Cheesepalooza: Gouda

This is the 7th month of the worldwind Cheesepalooza challenge. February is getting down with washed curds.  This month we were asked to make a Havarti, Edam, Fontina or Gouda. I opted for the Dutch creamy and buttery Gouda cheese.

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If you want to see the whole process of making cheese, from flocculation to cutting the curd and releasing the whey, check out my earlier post. What sets this recipe apart is the washed curds technique. Once the curd has been cut there are a few techniques that allow you to get as much whey out of the curds. One way is to drain part of the whey, then add hot water to raise the temperature of the curds to a specified degree. Here we do this twice in a row, elevating the temperature again on the second wash.

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The brine recipe I got here. Once you are done brinning just put the brine in a thick freezer zip-lock bag and keep it in the freezer till you need it again. Keep in mind the liquid will not become soild so make use it is place somewhere it will stay upright.

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This Gouda was inspired by this recipe but I modified the last bit. There are lots of conflicting opinions when it comes to the drying and aging part. I opted for a shorter drying time of 7 days instead of 21. I think the later is too much and would make the cheese to dry. I waxed it at 7 days and it has now been aging in the fridge for 1 month.

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Recipe Type: Cheese and Dairy
Author: Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
Serves: 1 pound
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 2 ounces mesophilic starter culture
  • 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
  • ½ gallon water
  • 1 pounds cheese salt
  • ½ tablespoon calcium chloride
  • ½ teaspoon vinegar
  1. Heat the milk to 90 degrees. Add the culture and mix well. Cover and allow the milk to ripen for 10 minutes.
  2. Add diluted calcium chloride and mix for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the diluted rennet and stir gently with an up-and-down motion for 1 minute.
  4. Cover and let the milk set at 90 degrees for 1 hour, or until the curds give a clean break.
  5. Toward the end of the hour, start heating your pot of water.
  6. Cut the curd into 1/2-inch cubes. Let them set for 10 minutes.
  7. Drain off one-third of the whey.
  8. Stirring continuously, slowly add just enough 175 degree water to raise the temperature of the curd to 92 degrees.
  9. Let the curd settle again for 10 minutes. Drain off the whey to the level of the curd.
  10. Once again, while stirring constantly, slowly add just enough 175 degree water to bring the temperature of the curd to 100 degrees. Keep the curd at 100 degrees for 15 minutes, stirring often to keep the curds from matting.
  11. Allow the curds to set for 30 minutes. Pour off remaining whey.
  12. Quickly place the warm curds in a 1-pound cheese mold lined with cheesecloth, breaking them as little as possible. Press at 20 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes.
  13. Remove the cheese from the mold and gently peel away the cheesecloth. Turn over the cheese, re-dress it, and press at 40 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes.
  14. Repeat the process (turn over the cheese, re-dress it) but press at 50 pounds of pressure for 8 hours. Remove from the press delicately.
  15. Make a brine using 1 pound of cheese salt stired until disolved. Mix in calcium chloride and vinegar.
  16. Soak the cheese in the brine in the refrigerator, 3 hours per pound of cheese. Flip it every 45 minutes. Remove the cheese from the brine and pat dry.
  17. Air dry in the fridge on a matt for 7 days.
  18. Wax the cheese. Age it at 50 degrees for 3-4 months, turning it 3 or 4 times a week.


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What do you do when a cheese recipe says to age your cheese in a cheese cave at say 50 F with an 80% humidity index….but without the cheese cave? Get an air tight container, put a couple of chopsticks on the bottom, place your cheese on top so air can pass underneath it. The cheese should take about 40% of the space. Ball up a wet paper towel in the opposite corner of the container. Keep an eye on the humidity level with a hygrometer. If you are air drying a cheese and it starts to crack you can place it in this type of container for a few days: by equalizing the humidity inside and out the cracks will heal.

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I’ll be out for next month’s challenge but will be back in 2 months for Brie or Camembert!

If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on

Cheesepalooza: Romano

Time flies, I was late with my last cheese post so you are getting another one already. We are at the 6th month of Cheesepalooza. This January we were asked to make a Parmesan, Asiago, Romano , or Brick. When I grew up and it was spaghetti night, my mom always set Parmesan and Romano grated cheese at the table. Granted it was the fake Kraft stuff. Well I always went heavier on the Romano as I found it had a sharper flavor. So decided to make a Romano of course.


Romano at just under 2 months

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My weird final curds

If you want to see the whole process of making cheese, from flocculation to cutting the curd and releasing the whey, check out my earlier post. I  always seem to combine more than one recipe when I make a cheese. The reason is because I use calcium chloride in my recipes since I use store bought milk. Not all recipes list it. This Romano is a mix of this recipe and this recipe. If you use Lipase for flavor like I did, make sure to get half whole milk and half skim milk to lower the fat content.

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My new cheese press woohoo!

I made a couple of new discoveries too this month. The first major improvement is my new cheese press. Everyone stand up and say: YAY! A press becomes essential when you get into these types of cheeses. Unfortunately a new press at cheese supply stores start at $150. Ouch! Well I took a look on Ebay and I found one for $50 shipping included. I jumped on the Buy Now button. It’s homemade and not absolutely perfect but it is a cheese press and it works great. So happy.

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After first press – butter muslin under cheese

Turns out a friend’s dad tried for 2 months to make cheese and moved on to another hobby. When he found out about my experiments he gave me all his cheese stuff. That was so nice, thank you Raquel’s dad! I got a book, ingredients, a cheese ladle, cheese wax and also butter muslin. OMG I will never use cheesecloth again! Butter muslin is a much tight weave so 1 layer is usually enough and, the best part, you can was it and reuse it. Not a bad idea to disinfect it too after each use in boiling water.

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After second press

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After third press

The brine recipe I got here. Once you are done brinning just put the brine in a thick freezer zip-lock bag and keep it in the freezer till you need it again. Keep in mind the liquid will not become soild so make use it is place somewhere it will stay upright.

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Bathing in brine

So this recipe was a challenge for me. I am starting to believe that cheeses made with mesophilic culture and buttermilk guarantee success for me. Anything using citric acid or thermophilic culture failure is lurking. This claim is entirely based on my gut instinct. The last two cultures always make my milk turn to curd or ricotta. I added the rennet and went straight to the supposed end curd result. Technically it may not be Romano in the end but it is a cheese.

My cheese is almost 2 months old now and I will soon rub it with olive oil. Mold has not been an issue so far. I love smelling the flavor developing from the cheese. All cheese starts of with pretty flavorless curd. In aging the magic of cheese chemistry takes place and flavors come to life. I have to wait at least another 3 months before tasting. Torture!


Romano Cheese

Recipe Type: Cheese and Dairy
Serves: 1 pound
  • 2 quarts skim milk
  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 5 oz. thermophilic starter culture
  • 1/4 teaspoon lipase powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water 30 minutes*
  • 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
  • 1/4 teaspoon rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1 pounds cheese salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon calcium chloride
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  1. Begin by heating the milk to 90F.
  2. Once the milk is at 90F, the culture can be added. Allow the milk to ripen at 90F for 60 min.
  3. At 40 minutes add the re-hydrated lipase Stir this in well.
  4. When the time is up add diluted calcium chloride and mix for 30 seconds.
  5. Then add diluted rennet and stir gently with an up-and-down motion for 1 minute.
  6. The milk now needs to sit quiet for 30 minutes until you get a clean break.
  7. Cut the curd into 1/4-inch cubes. You need nice small curd cubes.
  8. Heat the curds to 116 degrees over the course of 45 minutes, raising the temperature by 2 degrees every 5 minutes. Watch the temperature constantly.
  9. Maintain the curds at 116 degrees for 30 minutes or until curd retains its shape when squeezed. Drain off the whey.
  10. Line a 1-pound cheese mold with butter muslin or cheesecloth. Place the curds in the mold.
  11. Press at 5 pounds for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove the cheese from the mold and gently peel away the cheesecloth. Turn over the cheese, re-dress it, and press at 10 pounds for 30 minutes.
  13. Repeat the process but press at 20 pounds for 2 hours.
  14. Repeat the process again but press at 40 pounds for 12 hours.
  15. Remove the cheese from the mold. Peel away the cheesecloth.
  16. Make a brine using 1 pound of cheese salt stired until disolved. Mix in calcium chloride and vinegar.
  17. Soak the cheese in the brine for 6 hours in the refrigerator, flipping it every 90 minutes. Remove the cheese from the brine and pat dry.
  18. Age the cheese at 55 degrees and 85 percent humidity. Turn it over frequently and check for mold. If there is any, you can remove it with a cloth dampened in vinegar or salt water.
  19. After 2 months, lightly rub the cheese with olive oil to keep the rind from drying out. Age for another 3 to 10 months.
If using lipase with cow’s milk, a lower fat milk should be used. I find a blend of 1/2 skim plus 1/2 whole milk should give a starting fat content of about 2.2%. If not using lipase, a full fat milk may be used.


If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on

Cheesepalooza: Farmhouse Cheddar

Here we are already at the 5th month of Cheesepalooza. Well I am actually a little late, this was the December installment where we had to make a Farmhouse Cheddar or a Caerphilly. This was our first pressed cheese. Oh boy a new challenge. You learn a lot making cheese and sometimes you need to be very creative…like when you do not own a cheese press, a cheese mold, or when you attempt to make you own milk. Yes you read that correctly. Read on for a palpitating story in cheese making.

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Farmhouse cheddar is ready after 1 month but event better to wait 3 months. Christmas was my 1 month mark so we tried hafl of it and I resealed the second half to wait a full 3 months. I was suprised at how drier it was than regular cheddar but this is apparently normal. The taste was very mild and lovely.

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I became very fearful of using store bought milk after requiring 4 attepmts before making a successful mozzarella. I still cannot say if the milk was the reason but I came across a possbile solution here. This recipe lets you make your on cheese freindly milk: mixing bottle water with cream and a good quality Non Fat Dry Powder milk. It has to be the good stuff, like ‘Carnation’, as cheeper brands may not work because the milk was dehydrated at too high a heat.

For 1 gallon of milk mix up 1 gallon of bottle water (non chlorinanted) and Non Fat Dry Powder milk according to manufacturers instructions. Remove 1/2 or 1 pint milk to make room for cream. Add 1 pint light cream or if only heavy cream can be found use 1/2 pint. Mix well and let it re-hydrate in the fridge overnight.

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Testing for a clean break

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The cutting of the curd

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The curd just drained from the whey

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Draining the curd for 1 hour

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OK so I have drained my curd and I am not suppose to put it in a cheese mold and start pressins it. Well I had neither. I made up a mold by cutting the bottom of a 2l milk container and cutting it high enough to hold my curd. It was not practical and the curd kept trying to escape but it did the job. I have a proper mold now.

I did not have a cheese press either so we got creative by adding various weights at the different pressing stages. Here is the last one with a guess of about 25 pounds of pressure. I have found a bargain press on Ebay since then too.
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So what does Farmhouse Cheddar taset like? This rustic version of cheddar is actually drier and more crumbly than the cheddar we know. But with aging the flavor can become as full and sharp. I mixed up my recipe from two different sources: on just a couple acres and chickens in the road.


Farmhouse Cheddar

Recipe Type: Cheese and Dairy
  • 1 gallon milk
  • 1/4 t. calcium chloride, dissolved in 1/4 c. water
  • 2 oz. mesophilic culture cubes
  • 1/4 t. liquid rennet, dissolved in 1/4 c. water
  • 1 T. canning salt
  1. Add milk to a large pot. Thoroughly stir in the dissolved calcium chloride. Heat the milk to 90 degrees, stirring.
  2. Add the mesophilic culture and stir until melted. Cover the pot and allow to sit and ripen for 45 minutes.
  3. Add the dissolved rennet, stirring for one minute in a gentle up & down motion. Cover the pot and allow to sit forming curds for 45 minutes.
  4. Test for a clean break by using a knife to just lift a bit of the curd. It should lift clean and smooth and the void should fill with a bit of whey.
  5. Cut the curds to 1/2″ cubes. Allow to sit and heal for 5 minutes.
  6. Indirectly heat the curds to 100 degrees, aiming for a rate of 2 degrees every 5 minutes. This is achieved by placing the pot in a sink of hot water (100-110 degrees) and stirring frequently. It will take about 45 minutes. Curds will shrink up a bit and the yellow whey will increase. I have also found it necessary to drain a bit of the water in the sink and refill it with boiling water. Stir the pot occasionally (and gently) to keep the curds from matting.
  7. Once the pot reaches 100-degrees, cover it and let sit for 5 minutes.
  8. Scoop the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander. Tie up the cheesecloth and hang for 1 hour.
  9. Take down the cheesecloth and break the curds apart with your fingers.
  10. Mix in 1 T. of salt, 1/2 T. at a time, waiting 1 minute between each addition.
  11. Place in cheesecloth lined press and press for 30 minutes at 4-5 pounds of pressure.
  12. Take the curds from the press, removing the cheesecloth. Put the cheesecloth back into the mold and return the curds to the mold upside down. Press at 10-12 pounds for 1 hour.
  13. Remove and turn cheese again and press at 20-25 pounds for 12 hours.
  14. Remove cheese from press and unwrap. Air dry for 2 to 4 days, turning twice a day. Cheese is ready when a butter colored rind develops and is dry to the touch.
  15. To age the cheddar, seal in wax for up to three months and store at a temperature of 45-60 degrees.


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Air drying my cheddar for 3 days.

P.S. if you have cats air dry in a cracked open cupboard!

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An now it is time to wax! You will need cheese wax, a metal bowl and a pastry brush. Place some wax in the metal bol and place the bowl in a slightly larger pan filled with a bit of water. Place on medium heat and the wax will melt. Coat the cheese by painting the cheese with the brush and wax. Make sure to cover every area, otherwise mold could get in. Do a second coat of wax and let it set for a few minutes. Store your cheese until ready to eat.

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If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on

Cheesepalooza: Mozzarella

Here we are already at the 4th month of Cheesepalooza. This month we had to make mozzarella. Well the experience almost broke me. I’ll tell you more about it later but I required 4 attempts before I had success. I almost lost my desire to make cheese. Let me reassure you though I believe this was an isolated incident because I already made next month’s cheese and it is drying nicely on the counter. Come back in a month to find out what it is.

In the beginning I used the classic 30 minute mozzarella that one will find all over the Internet. Some find it easy but many people claim their mozzarella attempts failures. It is not the easiest cheese to make at all. 1st try I got tough ricotta like cheese. 2nd try I got nice ricotta so that was not a waste. 3rd try there was not solidification at all. No protein and no fat solid materialized…puff…gone???

I was at my wit’s end. I was freaking out, discouraged, upset, mad, and I used a lot of 4 letter words. I was almost too angry to give up. I had given up the night before. Then I came across this blog post where the author had an identical mozzarella crisis as mine and she found a recipe that worked! From a Korean website! I had to try and I also like the fact that it was half a batch. It worked! OK the milk almost curdled and I did not get a nice white gelatinous surface, but with the microwave heating it did melt and turn into mozzarella texture. I was so freaking excited. I was so happy I forgot to add the salt. So it was hardly the best mozzarella but I did it.



Recipe Type: Cheese and Dairy
Cuisine: Italian
  • 1/8 teaspoon or tablet of rennet
  • 1/2 teaspoon milk A at room temperature
  • 900ml milk B
  • 1/8 teaspoon citric Acid
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Dissolve the rennet in milk A. Wait 30 minutes.
  2. Pour milk B into a pot, and heat to 90°F.
  3. Dissolve the acid in 1/4 cup water. When the milk is at 90°F pour in the citric acid. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the rennet and milk A solution into milk B. Stir for two minutes.
  5. Put the lid on and let it set for 30 minutes. You’re trying to achieve a “clean break” which is when the milk sets. Wait longer if need be (some people wait 3 hours).
  6. Line a colander with a cheesecloth. Pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth and let it drain.
  7. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and massage the bag to drain the whey until it resembles a solid mass of curds.
  8. Microwave for 1 minute. Drain the whey
  9. Microwave in 20-30 second increments 2-3 times until the cheese is no longer releasing whey. You want to get a reading of 135°F.
  10. It’s time to knead the cheese a bit until you get the stretch texture of mozzarella. I recommend using gloves as it gets really hot. Add salt and knead a bit.
  11. Shape and drop it into some cold water to “set” it.


So what did I learn and where may I have gone wrong?

Was it the milk? As far as I know we do not have ultra-pasteurized milk in Quebec. It is not indicated on the containers. I searched the websites of the local milks and the best information I got was that milk was pasteurized the standard way but still at a higher temperature. And I am in the city without a farmer connection. I tried 3 different milk companies. I don’t know if that was one of the issues. I did however come across this article that explains how to prepare milk ideal for cheese making from cream and milk powder. I did not use it for this cheese however but for next month’ s cheese. Here is the link but I will discuss it more in detail next month.

Was it the water? OK I admit the 2 first tries I forgot to use bottle water. City tap water with chlorine is a no no.

Was it the Citric acid? I think this was my main problem for 2 reasons. First I think the milk was over acidified with the quantity required in the recipe. That is why it curdled so fast but I have no acid measuring device. Second I read after 2 tries that I probably did not mix in the citric acid the right way. You have to pour the dissolved citric acid slowly while stirring vigorously. I really noticed the difference.

Special ingredients this month: Citric Acid and Rennet

I am glad in the end I stuck with it. My friends and colleagues definitely called me persistent. I won’t be making it again any time soon though. With my mozzarella finally in hand I made these lovely little Mozzarella Tomato and Black Olive Tarts. What a hit these were! Have you almost given up on a recipe after several attempts? Did you finally succeed?

If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on

Cheesepalooza: Feta Cheese

Already another cheese. I am on a roll! When I joined Cheesepalooza I was cutting it close to the new monthly deadline plus I wanted to make the challenge on the prior month…so you are getting 2 cheeses in one week. Have you ever wanted to make cheese but are not sure where to begin? This group is for you.

My first cheese was a basic goat cheese. That was a relatively simple process. Now for Feta, in theory it is still simple but you have to follow the recipe to the letter. Feta involves heating, curdling, draining, drying and ripening in brine. This challenge pushed me a little bit farther and gave me confidence for the next cheese. Check out the goat cheese round-up here.

I have to say making my Feta was very rewarding. Now it will not be completely ready as I just put it in brine and it must stay there 1 to 4 weeks, but I had a piece already to top off a corn tortilla with a tomato and onions. It was soft, flavorful and just delicious.

To make your Feta you will have to get a few special cheese making supplies. Don’t worry it is a small investment only, but you will need to buy some lipase powder, calcium chloride and rennet. Lipase is a flavor agent for Italian and Greek cheeses. Calcium Chloride restores the calcium balance in the milk that was modified during pasteurization. Finally Rennet is a coagulant that firms up your milk protein. The 3 supplies were about 20$ and I have enough to make pounds and pounds more cheese.

I found my recipe online. For some reason just one recipe was not clear enough so I read many and settled on 2 that I combined: I used this recipe and this recipe. On my first try I failed: my cheese curd separated and it turned out rubbery. That is when I realized having a proper thermometer is essential. On my first try I raised the temperature to a level that killed my good cultures. I will repeat myself from my goat post: if you really want to start making cheese it is imperative that you buy a digital thermometer. I found one at my grocery store for 15$ and it goes from -40 to 450 degrees F (-40 to 230 degrees C). Now let’s cut the curd…

Ξ Feta Cheese Ξ

1 gallon whole milk, preferably goat or a mix
3/4 cup cultured buttermilk
1/4 tsp lipase powder
1/2 tsp calcium chloride
1/4 tsp liquid rennet
1/4 cup + 1/2 oz of non-iodized salt

Begin by warming the milk in a saucepan to 86° F. Add the buttermilk and stir well with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Cover the pan, and let the mixture rest for about an hour. Maintain the temperature at 86° F (keep burner on low to med-low and check often).

At 40 min, add lipase to 1/4 cup of cold water and mix. After the hour, add lipase while stirring for 30 seconds and then add the calcium chloride stirring for 30 seconds. Add the liquid rennet and stir gently, but thoroughly, for 1 minute. Cover again, and let the mixture sit, undisturbed for an hour, while always maintaining the temperature at 86° F.

At the end of this time, the rennet will have caused the milk to congeal into a gelatin-like texture. Using a knife that will reach to the bottom of the pan, slice the curds into 1/2″ cubes in a crosshatch pattern. While you still maintain the temperature at 86° F, let the curds rest for 5-10 minutes. You should notice the almost-clear, liquid whey seeping out from the cuts. Then stir gently for about 15 minutes to break up the curd.

Pour the curds into a colander lined with 2 layers of cheesecloth and drain for 30 minutes. Reserve 1 quart of the whey in a container and refrigerate. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth, and hang over a bowl or the sink to drain at room temperature for about 24 hours.

Cut the feta into 2- to 3-inch pieces. Arrange the squares in a single layer in a shallow container with a tight-fitting lid. Sprinkle about 1/2 oz. salt over all sides of the cheese. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 4 days. Each day, pour off the whey as it collects in the bottom of the container.

Transfer the cheese pieces to the 3 quart glass container—it’s fine to stack them at this point. Heat slowly 1 cup of your whey to almost boiling. Stir in 1/4cup salt, 1 tsp vinegar  and 1/4 tsp of Calcium Chloride. Once the salt is dissolved mix in remaining brine. Pour this brine over the cheese, covering it completely. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 weeks. The longer the feta is aged, the stronger the flavor and crumblier the texture will be.

If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on