By Howard Dewsbury in Barrie Ontario, Canada
I am a 68 year old father of 4 lovely children and have been happily married to my wife Jane since 1969, and those children have given us 6 adorable grandchildren.
In 2011, I retired after many years in the engineering and construction industry. I realized that I still needed challenges to keep my mind occupied and myself busy. Cooking had always been a passion so I began experimenting with different recipes, with a special interest in preserves and fermented foods. (I have been making beer and wine since the early 1970’s.) Eventually, this led to making cured meats and cheese – a strange turn of events for someone who barely passed his chemistry courses in college.
Turns out cheese making was interesting and fun. It soon became a hit with friends and family. Never being one to just follow others’ recipes, I started experimenting; took a couple of tries to get the cheeses the way I wanted them to. The results are well worth the effort!
Howard’s Small Cheese
I wanted a small cheese that would make an interesting Christmas gift, had a pleasant, mild taste and was firm but not hard. After searching many books on cheeses and online recipes and not finding what I was looking for, I developed the following simple recipe then proceeded to make the first batch. The cheese has a mild flavour along the lines of an Alpine cheese that gets better with age and has a medium firmness – good with fruit, white wine or on crackers.
Howard told us that his unique recipe tastes somewhat like Oka cheese from Quebec. (Oka cheese is made by the Oka monks at the Abbey of Notre-Dame du Lac (known as Oka Abbey) in Deux-Montagnes, Quebec.) We haven’t tried this ourselves yet. So, if you make it, be sure to tell us about it in the comments.
Heat milk to 37C (98F), add Thermophilic C, annatto and calcium chloride. Stir and let sit for 1 hour.
Add rennet and let sit until a clean break is achieved. Cut into 1/2″ x 1/2″ strips.
Let sit for 5 minutes, stir with whisk to cut into small curds. Let sit for 20 minutes.
Place in grain bag or colander to drain until dripping slows.
Weigh drained curd and divide into 4 equal portions.
Press at 10 lbs for 1 hour then turn over and press at 50 lbs overnight.
Remove from mold(s), salt and vacuum seal. Place in storage for 2 months. Note: The cheeses are pretty dry when I take them from the press. The vacuum sealing means only an anaerobic process takes place and along with the salt inhibits unwanted molds from getting started on the cheese. Also, these cheeses are small and sealing them keeps them from drying out. During the first 2 months, the cheeses release gas and some moisture and the vacuum is slowly reduced. If you dry and wax them after taking them out of the press, the wax will loosen, leaving a gap where unwanted mold can start to grow. This situation would require you the remove the wax, clean off any mold and then wax them again.
Remove vacuum seal and let dry at room temperature.
Soft wax* (optional) then tie a string around cheese and dip in hard wax.
Age another 2-6 months or longer.
* Soft wax is the same as cheese paste and it’s use is optional