Sunday, November 27, 2011

Simple Home-made Cheese Press

I am NOT a carpenter.  I made this while my very first cheddar was culturing and renneting, so I slapped it together very quickly and never bothered to re-make it.  You can see that it is off-center and I didn't use the best wood.....but everything was something I had here already.  I eyeball the press from every angle when I load it, to make sure the arm is straight up and down from every angle so as not to get a crooked cheese.  Cleanliness of the press is not important, as the cheese does not come into contact with it.  Cleanliness of the mold and follower is the critical part, and what the mold is set onto and into.

The two different size wood followers are for the two sizes of molds that I have.  The shorter one for the bigger molds, the longer one for the smaller molds.

 Here is a Gouda in the mold getting ready to be pressed.  Use a pan big enough to collect the whey and spread it out so your cheese isn't sitting in whey, which could happen with a smaller container.  Those are canning jar rings that it is sitting on.  In the background is a plastic "ice cube tray" cover for a standard commercial florescent light fixture that is easy to cut to size to drain/dry cheeses on a plate or in a box, with the addition of a mat.  The pieces go into the dishwasher if not too big, top rack.  This can be used under the mold, too, but I recommend two layers.
When I first made the press, I used this ten pound weight with a dog collar.  I put my bathroom scale on the base of the press and marked the lever increase the pressure, simply slide the weight further away from the hinge, to reduce the pressure, slide it towards the hinge.  I marked it at 20, 30, and 50 lbs.  For 10 lbs, I put the weight right in the follower and not on the arm.
I made the molds from containers I got at a restaurant supply place....they are PERFECT as molds and followers.  I have some shorter ones for a 1-2 lb cheese, used a lot in my first year with one goat but I haven't made small cheeses in a couple of years now.  It is the same amount of work and time for a four pound cheese as it is for a one pound cheese, and the larger wheels age better.....they are not all rind, there is actually some cheese in there.

The press in action (notice the notch in the lever arm that the point of the follower board fits into...without a notch, the follower will not remain level and the cheese may press unevenly):

I want to emphasize that I made this all from scraps that I had on hand....nothing was purchased to make this press.  The containers for the molds were purchased at a fraction of the cost of a "real" cheese mold and follower.  My point is this:  You do NOT have to spend a small fortune to do some dairying in your backyard and to make dairy products in your kitchen.  At the time of this writing, I have about 60 lbs of gouda and caerphilly in my cheese fridge in the cellar, 20-30 lbs of feta in the freezer, and maybe 12 lbs of chevre in the freezer.  We will be all set until next summer, when the cheese making starts up again in earnest.

For another great and free cheese press idea, check out my friend OhioFarmGirl's blog as she tells how she cuts the cheese......*snort*giggle*snicker*.......'scuse me, just a little cheese making humor!

No comments:

Post a Comment