Category Archives: Beginning Cheesemaking

Pepper and Bacon Grease Cheddar

Another experiment here!  This is a variation on my last cheddar – basically the same recipe and process but with peppers and bacon grease.

I used the same method as the past few types of cheddar and got a clean break.  The only difference being I used a gallon of milk this time as opposed to a half gallon.


  • Gallon Straus Family whole milk, non-homogenized
  • 1-2 teaspoon mesophilic(DS) starter
  • 1 tablet rennet

After the break, I followed the typical cheddaring process:


After a couple of hours in the press, I lightly rubbed a bacon grease/spicy pepper rub on the cheese.  I re-wrapped it in a fresh cheese cloth for another day in the press.  The peppers consisted of habanera, jalapeño and serrano chiles.  Yikes, this will be a spicy one!

Looks like Christmas...

After a couple of days I waxed it and put into my brand new ‘cheese cave’.  Or, wine fridge I should say.  I will age this a few months if I can stand the wait.


Secret Project – #4 (MAX Cheddar)

For this variation on cheddar, I went in all the way!  This is the one I hope to eventually perfect.  My flag-ship cheddar if you will.

I used a similar method/recipe as my last two cheddars with a more intensive cheddaring process this time around – In other words, I allowed more time for this:  (  The goal in this process is to develop the proper amount of acidity and remove enough moisture in order for the cheese to age well.


  • Half gallon Straus Family whole milk, non-homogenized
  • 1-2 teaspoon mesophilic(DS) starter (
  • 1/4 tablet rennet (and another ¾ tablet)

Troubleshooting:  I added another ¾ of a tablet to achieve the break.  I am not sure what is happening here but next time I will go straight to a full tablet.  This could be due to the milk (non-homog) or possibly not achieving the right acidity.  I will eventually purchase a handy-dandy pH meter, but until then…guessing is the game.

In addition to a longer cheddaring process, I began pressing this on Saturday night to allow for a full 24 hours in Mr. Press.

Here’s the kicker.  I bought a tub of Trader Joe’s Dark Coffee beans and ground them up as finely as possible in our coffee grinder.  Sunday morning, we had a good-ol American style breakfast of bacon and eggs.  The bacon happened to be Niman Ranch.  I ground two, cooked pieces of bacon in our food processor, added back some bacon grease and let it settle.  As soon as the newly minted slab of cheese had pressed, I mixed the coffee and bacon bits into a sort of sludge mixture.  I lightly rubbed this super intense mixture onto the surface of the cheese and re-wrapped it for one last quick press.  After a few hours, this is what ensued:

BOOM - Max Cheddar 1.0

The very first Bacon-Infused Cheddar (that I know of!).

Taste Explosion

#3 Waxed and aging

Two weekends ago, I attempted my first cheddar,  although I’m not sure it qualifies as a true cheddar.  I started the ripening process around 1 or 2pm and didn’t end up going to bed until around 11pm, and I skipped a few steps.  The first issue arose when I couldn’t get a clean break with 1/4 tablet of rennet.  I had given up hope but thought I should try more rennet just in case.  I put the rest of tablet in and within 30 minutes I had the break.  I was using a different milk (Straus Family Creamery –  so that may have something to do with it although it is kind of odd since I only used a half gallon.  I decided early to practice in smaller quantities, less I go and screw up a huge 5 gallon batch of milk!

So back to the cheddar.  I used a combo method/recipe for this:


  • Half gallon Straus Family whole milk, non-homogenized
  • 1-2 teaspoons buttermilk starter
  • 1/4 tablet rennet (and then another 3/4)

In terms of the process, I followed Cheese Forum’s advice although I have to say I didn’t have time to follow through with all of the flipping and pressing.  We shall see how this turns out.

I waxed the cheese a couple of days ago.  It had formed a nice rind after about 5 days, however my wax didn’t arrive until around 8 days.  Looks good to me though!

#3, non-descript cheddar (3/22/10)

I cut the cheese

Since my cheese wax did not arrive in time, I decided not to wait any longer to eat my first cheese!  I had put a coat of olive oil on the rind and left it in the refrigerator in a baggy.  I’m not sure if this was the best idea, but it didn’t seem to matter.  Check it out:

While it wasn’t amazing, it did taste really good.  It had a very mild cheddar taste and decent texture.  Critiques – it didn’t age so the flavor was not all that developed.  A bit dry from being left out too long (or is this because of temperature during preparation?).  I think the milk impacted the texture and made it somewhat waxy.  I have since switched to non-homogenized milk and I’m curious to see how this impacts the cheese.  I’m confident this will make a huge difference.


Wow…just wow

Goat’s Milk Ricotta

I took this recipe from here, which he took from Ricki:

This was an extremely simple recipe.  This is what I used:

  • 1/4 gallon of goat’s milk from TJ’s
  • 1/16 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • Less than 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1/8 tsp of baking soda
  • Light salting

I heated the milk to about 195° (just before boiling) and stirred constantly to make sure it didn’t scald.  Once it hit 195° I added (slowly) the vinegar and then turned off the heat.  I stirred for a few more minutes and then let cool for a bit.  I drained the curds into a colander, and although it said to use muslin cloth – I didn’t have one so I just drained it in the colander.  This seemed to work just fine.  After it drained, I added the butter (melted) and then the baking soda and salted to taste.

We added this to a salad and ravioli and spaghetti/alfredo sauce mix.  Was amazing!

TJ's Goat's Milk

The humble sterilization process

Naked result

The payoff