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How To Make A Faux Cheddar In One Hour

moon cheese

Recipe: Smoky Cheater Cheese Makes 1 1/2 pounds

The immediate results are those of a farmer-style crumbling cheese. This cheese's recommended serving suggestion requires the additional step of panfrying the cheese.

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked salt

1 teaspoon flake salt

1/2 tablet vegetarian rennet

1/2 cup dechlorinated water

1 gallon whole cow's milk (not ultra-pasteurized)

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Combine the turmeric and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Combine the smoked salt and flake salt in a separate small bowl. Dissolve the 1/2 tablet of rennet in the 1/2 cup of water and set it aside.

Line the colander with cheesecloth. Place a bowl under the colander if you want to collect the whey; otherwise, place the lined colander in your clean sink.

Pour the gallon of milk into the pot and whisk in the apple cider vinegar. Add the spices, whisk them to combine, and heat on medium to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the rennet solution and mix it in with 20 quick strokes to incorporate it evenly. Heat to 105 degrees.

Look for coagulation to occur between adding the rennet and the milk reaching 105 degrees. The curd will pull away from the edge when you gently press the top and you will see a clear separation between the curd and whey.

Use the whisk or spoon to chop the pieces of curd into, (roughly) 1-inch pieces (do not use a whisking action). Reach down to cut the curd at the bottom of the pot, too. Allow the cut pieces to cook in the whey for about 2 more minutes. Heat to 115 degrees.

Watch the curds change from a softer yogurt-like texture until they come to resemble a sturdy, scrambled egg texture. Continue to heat, this time to 120 degrees, moving the curds around slowly but continuously with the spoon as you heat.

When the temperature of the curds and whey reaches 120 degrees, reduce the heat. While maintaining the temperature, use the back of the spoon to begin squeezing the curds against the side of the pot.

Pull some of the curd up with your spoon and press it with your fingers to track the changes in texture.

After you've squeezed all the curds against the side of the pot, turn off the heat and let the pot sit for 5 minutes, or until the curds hold together when you squeeze them.

If they don't quite hold, let the curds sit for another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes to encourage the release of more whey.

Pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth-lined colander and allow the whey to drain for 3 minutes or until the curds are almost dry, then firmly press out the last of the whey with clean hands.

Now break apart the pressed curd with your fingers until it all looks like popcorn. Mix in the salts and stir very thoroughly — dig deep to get that bottom layer!

Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and twist them together, squeezing out the remaining whey. Press the bundle into the mold. Depending on the size of the mold, you may have some curd overflow, which requires the removal of some curd to make it fit. In that case, split your curds and make two smaller wheels.

If there's just a small overflow, press to condense the cheese into the mold and to create an even texture.

Place the mold in the freezer for 5 minutes. The curd should compress into a wheel in that time. If it still looks crumbly, it may have dried out and cooled off a little too much when you were milling and salting.

More pressing will help: Rewrap the cheese, fill the gallon jug halfway with water and use it as a weight (place a small plate or container on the cheese for a nice flat top). After 10 minutes, let the cheese cool in the freezer for another five minutes.

Unwrap the cheese and remove it from the mold. Take a cheese knife and dig in! It's very tasty when eaten fresh, but really shines when fried in butter.

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