How to Make Sharp Cheddar Cheese

How to Make Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Image: bhofack2/iStock/GettyImages)

If you love cheese, you might have wondered how easy it would be to make your own fresh, delicious cheddar. Fortunately, the steps for preparing cheeses in your own kitchen are fairly simple and feasible with basic equipment you might already have. Follow this great cheddar cheese recipe and enjoy everything from delicious sharp cheddar cheese sauce to a wonderful topping for your favorite crackers.

Cheddar Cheese Recipe

To make homemade cheddar cheese, you will need the following: a food thermometer, a large pot, cheesecloth, a long knife, cheese wax and a cheese press. First, heat 2 gallons of cow or goat milk to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the large pot. Be sure to stir regularly. Once it reaches the temperature, you may add 1/8 teaspoon of salt diluted in 1/4 cup of water if you'd like.

Next, add one packet of direct-set mesophilic cheese culture and stir with an up-and-down motion. Then, cover it and let the mixture ferment for an hour. When that time has passed, stir the mixture and slowly fold in 1/2 teaspoon of liquid animal rennet dissolved in 1/2 cup of cool water. Again, stir using an up-and-down motion for best mixing.

Remove it from the heat and set it aside for one hour. After that time, you should be able to see the curds separating from the whey. Use the long knife to cut the curds into cubes of 1/4 inch. Set these aside for five minutes and then heat them to 100F for 30 minutes.

Straining the Cheese

After the curds have settled into the bottom of the pot, pour them into a colander. Let the liquid drain into a pot for 15 minutes. Then, place the curds on a cutting board and remove the whey from the pot. Cut the remaining mass into five slices and place them back inside the pot.

Fill your sink with water at 102F and place the pot and curds into it. Turn the curds every 15 minutes for a period of two hours. After this period, they should be shiny and firm. Remove them and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes.

Place 102F water in the sink once again and return the curds to their pot. Wait 10 minutes and then stir the curds. Repeat this process two times. Remove the pot from the sink and add salt.

Using a Cheese Press

The last step in the cheese-making process is using a press. Place the curds in a cheese press that has been lined with cheesecloth. Follow the directions on your press or apply 10 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes.

Remove the cheese from the press. Flip it over, and using a new piece of cheesecloth, press it at 40 pounds of pressure for 12 hours. Repeat this process with another new piece of cheesecloth at 50 pounds of pressure for 24 hours.

Take the cheese from the press and let it air dry for two to three days. Then, apply wax to the cheese and let it age for at least 60 days.

Basics About Cheddar Cheese

Did you know that cheddar cheese is named for the town in England where it was invented? Believe it or not, there is actually a place called Cheddar. Now, of course, the term is synonymous with the cheese rather than the town.

Cheddar cheese is known for its firm texture, sharp flavor and a slight nuttiness. Depending on how long the product is aged, it may be very sharp or more mild. The longer you age your cheese, the sharper it will be. It's also possible to infuse your cheddar cheese with other flavors during the aging process for a truly unique taste.

References & Resources