The next logical step – make cheese

Using the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll I decided to make a cheese we’ve had some success with in the past: Manchego.

Manchego is a nice forgiving cheese, that allows for instant gratification or patience, in my experience mostly dependent on how the aging process is going. It can be eaten as early as days 2-5 for Manchego fresco, or cured another 3-12 weeks for manchego curado, and i things are going really well, 3-12 months and you get manchego viejo. It’s also of the washed rind variety, which takes out the annoying waxing step. But it does need to be brined over night, which is a little nerve wracking (particularly after our last feta dissolved in the brine).

I started with Garelick Farm’s Pure milk, which claims to be:

  • Our farmers pledge not to use artificial growth hormones
  • We test all milk for antibiotics
  • Continuously quality tested to ensure purity
  • Only from cows fed a nutritious diet
  • Cold shipped fresh from your trusted dairy within hours

Which who knows if that’s better than Hood or any other non-ultrapasterized milk, but I didn’t feel like driving to Framingham to get raw milk, and I doubt the organic variety is terribly different.

I used 1/2 a packet of both mesophillic and thermophillic starter, both sold to us by the makers of the cheese book.

I recommend the book with some hesitations, it’s very hard to follow and often skips steps or doesn’t go over the steps each time, so if you are starting with recipe 35, you pretty much don’t get the correct directions. It is a great book if you read it from page 1 to 277, and remember all of it, but I constantly find myself having to note down in the margins parts that she neglected to reprint in each recipe (Like, add calcium chloride to your milk before you start, I forget that every time) And often the sidebars and recipes conflict with each other, so it’s a bit of guess work and trial and error each time to figure out what you are supposed to do. There is a 1-800 number for help, but I’m not one to call and ask questions.

First step, warm up the milk. I tend to leave mine in the jugs in some warm water while I get everything ready


Sterilize all things


set up water bath in the sink, we use the top of a  tupperware cake carrier


Manchego has a very fine curd, so there’s a lot of stirring and cutting of the curd


And new to this process this time, an instant read thermometer. We had been using an oven probe (actually three) but they’ve all proven broken or unreliable, so I actually drove out to wegman’s while the cheese was inoculating.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. FromageHomage
    Aug 20, 2013 @ 02:25:34

    Looks good – and what a great cheese press, I’ve been using tins of beans and bags of spare change! I made a cheddar a couple of months ago (still in my cellar) but like the idea of an aged manchego. Look forward to seeing how it turns out.



    • Stephanie (Curiositykt)
      Aug 20, 2013 @ 05:46:55

      Our first aged cheese was a cheddar, and it went pretty funky under its wax.. So our second aged cheese was a cheddar where we sterilized every possible surface, and it came out a little better, but still pretty funky under the wax.. So the third attempt was a manchego, which I forgot to turn and oil every day for a few weeks (I got really busy) and it got covered in mold, but I was able to wash it off with vinegar, and the underlying cheese tasted like manchego, even the cleaned rind was good! So that’s why I went with manchego this time, as if I am really good about flipping and oiling, it should be pretty amazing.. So far cheddar has become my nemesis! (Well actually the feta that dissolved in the brine was the worst experiment as I never even got to taste it… but that was a lot less effort for no cheese)



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