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How to make cheese

March 22, 2013

Now it is finally time to talk about truly important things in life … How the heck does milk turn into cheese?

Well best to explain using the example of Tymsboro, a pyramid-shaped, dense and creamy aged goat’s milk cheese of Mary.

For a start the milk has to be very fresh, the oldest being from the previous evening and is unpasteurised. Morning milk is good because you don’t need to heat it much. Every morning I transfer the milk from the bulk tank in the milking parlour to the milk vat in the cheese room. Bring it up to 20-22°C and add a starter (helps the sour the milk) – plus a tiny amount of rennet (helps milk to coagulate, meaning seperate the whey from the curd).the bulk tank

the milk vat

Left in tubs for 24 hours to incubate, this forms a very soft, delicate curd and can be ladled into its moulds.

3 tubs with milk, each 40L

When curd is ready, means it is firm and has reached the right acidity, it is ladled into moulds. It is important to break up the curd as little as possible, quite a time consuming but relaxing process. You have to top up the moulds every so often as the curd drains slowly (since it has not been pressed down until now) and shrinks respectivly. After a couple of hours draining you have to top it up a little more. Repeat the process until curd is used up.

curd ready to ladle

                               freshly ladled curd  freshly ladled curd

After about 1-2 days the cheeses are being pressed lightly to even out the surface. I turn the moulds on to plastic mats and salt it, then turn and salt again.

Curd in moulds lightly pressed down  right - freshly ladled curd, left - curd after 1 day, pressed down

Then the cheese hang out in the humid fridge until they are firm enough to be charcoaled. Charcoal powder and salt are mixed together and then I lightly pat a coating on. It is French practice that gives the fresh cheeses a light grey colour, it enhances flavour to grow on the cheese rind.

From left to right – cheese after 3-4 days, cheese after charcoaling 1 week, cheese after 2 weeks (white mould starts to grow), cheese after 4 weeks fully covered in mouldfrom left to right - cheese after 3-4 days, cheese after charcoaling, cheese after 2 weeks (white mould starts to grow), cheese after 4 weeks fully covered in mould

Voilà, the final result, a cut Tymsboro after about 4 weeks. Have a try! We just delivered the first batches to Neal’s Yard Dairy (Borough Market), Paxton and Whitfield and The Fine Cheese. Every single cheese went through my fingers and is made with lots of love!!!aged Tymsboro

It usually takes 7 to 10 days until the mould starts to grow and it matures for 3 to 4 weeks.Then it goes to the cheesemonger. For instance consumers at Baths’s Farmers Market like them even more aged when the cheese has established a stronger flavour – which is lemony, nutty and salty.

The process of making hard cheese is a bit different and requires more physical strength. Instead of ladling the curd into moulds with the help of a ladle you are bending over the 160L milk vat and cut the curd with both of your hands. Hence I cannot take pictures 🙂

When I am not too knackered (after cleaning all that stuff you’ve seen above every single day) I lose myself in Mary’s extensive cheese library and try to comprehend what we do in the cheese and riping room. So this is how my coffee breaks look like.

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