The cheese originates from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, South West England. Cheddar Gorge on the edge of the village contains a number of caves, which provided the ideal humidity and constant temperature for maturing the cheese. Cheddar cheese traditionally had to be made within 30 miles (48 km) of Wells Cathedral.
According to my friends at Wiki “Cheddar has been produced since at least the 12th century. A pipe roll of King Henry II from 1170 records the purchase of 10,240 lb (4,640 kg) at a farthing per pound (totaling £10.13s.4d., about £10.67 in decimal currency). Charles I (1600–1649) also bought cheese from the village. Romans may have brought the recipe to Britain from the Cantal region of France.
Joseph Harding has been described as the father of cheddar cheese. Harding introduced new equipment into the process of cheese making, including his “revolving breaker” for curd cutting, saving much manual effort. The “Joseph Harding method” was the first modern system for cheddar production based upon scientific principles. He and his wife were behind the introduction of the cheese into Scotland and North America. Joseph Harding’s sons, Henry and William Harding, were responsible for introducing cheddar cheese production to Australia and facilitating the establishment of the cheese industry in New Zealand respectively.
During World War II, and for nearly a decade after the war, most milk in Britain was used for the making of one single kind of cheese nicknamed “Government cheddar” as part of war economies and rationing. This nearly resulted in wiping out all other cheese production in the country. Before World War I there were more than 3,500 cheese producers in Britain, while fewer than 100 remained after the Second World War.”
The quest for me began here. I was looking to reproduce on a small scale Cheddar Cheese for my own personal use.
The Recipe began like this.
1/4 tsp Mesophilic Cheese Culture
1 1/2 tspCalcium Chloride Liquid (30%)prepared
1/2 tabletRennet Tablets (microbial)dissolved in 1/4 cup distilled water
3 TbspFlaked Salt
3 gallonswhole milk
1 pint heavy cream
Combine the milk, cream and diluted calcium chloride in a cheese pot or double boiler. Gently heat the mixture to 90°F. Stir with easy push-pull action to prevent the milk from scorching. For me I choose to allow my combined ingredients to sit outside covered on my porch as the temperature was 90 degrees. Thus it required no cooking and came up to temperature rather slowly.
Turn off the heat and sprinkle DVI Mesophilic starter onto milk’s surface. Allow the culture to rehydrate for 3 minutes before stirring it into the milk. Cover the pot and allow the milk to rest at 90°F for 45 minutes.
Next note the time and add the prepared rennet by mixing it into the milk with an up and down motion for about 1 minute. Set time should be between 30 and 40 minutes. After the ‘set’ time has elapsed, check the curd for a clean break. Use a long bread knife to cut the curds into 1/2 inch cubes. Allow the curds to rest (heal) for 5 minutes.
Now Indirectly heat (using the water bath method) the curds to 100°F by increasing the temperature no faster than 2°F every five minutes. It should take 30 minutes to reach 100°F. This is best done in a double boiler on the stove top or in a sink full of 100° to 110°F water. Stir frequently but gently to prevent matting.
Hold the curds and whey at 100°F for 1 hour, stirring every 5 minutes to keep the curds from matting together. Adjust the temperature of your double boiler or sink water as needed to maintain this temperature.
Place a large colander in a sink. Note that no cheesecloth is used here. Carefully pour the curds and whey into the colander and allow them to drain. Gently sift through the curds with clean hands to facilitate draining. This will unblock the draining holes and keep the curds from matting. Once the whey has drained, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cheese salt over the curds and gently mix it in using your hands. Wait 1 minute and repeat with another tablespoon of cheese salt. Wait 1 minute and repeat with the remaining tablespoon of cheese salt.
Place the curds into a coarse cheesecloth-lined press. Press with 4 to 5 pounds of weight for 15 minutes.
Remove the cheese from the press and take it out of the cheesecloth. Place the cheesecloth back in the mold and return the cheese to the mold upside down. This time press the cheese with 8 to 10 pounds of pressure (one gallon of water) for 12 hours.
Remove the cheese from the press as before and unwrap the cloth.
Place the cheese on a bamboo mat to air dry for 1 to 3 days. The cheese must be turned over twice each day. The cheese is ready to eat when yellowish rind (similar to the color of butter) starts to develop and the cheese is dry to the touch. Left un-waxed, the cheese should be refrigerated and be consumed within 2 weeks.
You can age Farmhouse Cheddar for a period of up to 3 months by sealing it in cheese wax or by vacuum packing. The cheese will benefit from storage in a constant temperature between 45°F and 60°F. The cheese will mature more quickly at the warmer end of the range.