It’s like the cheese press and cheese fridge were made for each other!

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Cat free pantry accommodations

Tomorrow’s project (since I didn’t get to it today) Preserved lemons!

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The pressing issue – does it work?

Finally time to put the press through its paces.

First thing I’ll fix, make the holes on the weight plate bigger, as they get moved a lot.

But all and all it seems to work well:

This is the first press, so it’s still really thick, it’s on its final press right now and it’s actually inside the mold now.

I created a drain plate using a meat cutting board (yay for drainage channels!) and a towel to sop up the whey as it comes out. There’s also a plastic drying sheet between the mold and the cutting board which is supposed to help with the draining. It’s what it will dry on once it’s out of the mold as well. I put one of the extra weights behind to raise it up a little to help the whey drain in the direction of the towel. Manchego doesn’t drain terribly much after the first pressing because the curds are so small and packed in, I’ll probably need a more robust drainage system for other cheeses.

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Top view, 15, well actually 15.79 lbs but close enough. Image

We need a cat proofing plan though… I think the press will go in the pantry for the night.

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The last press is 30 pounds for 6 hours, but considering it started at 7pm and I plan to be in bed by 10pm, It’s going to get about 10 hours at 30 pounds and then tomorrow when I wake up, I’ll toss it in the brine.

Cheese press

We’ve been using an improvised cheese press for the last year and Caitrin decided that she would be excited about cheese making if I made a real press. So I started contemplating what I wanted:

Requirements

1, Must be able to use the cheese mold we already have, and future ones we might get

2. Must be able to be sterilized

3. Must be able to handle weight increments as small as 5 pounds and as big as 50

4. Must not be able to be knocked over by my cat in the middle of the night

5. Must create even pressure so the cheese isn’t lopsided again

Our old one was so terrible I never took a picture of it, but picture in your mind a canning pot with a plate on the bottom and then the cheese mold on top of the plate, with some towels wrapped around so it didn’t slip (Which happened anyway) and then the crock pot balanced on top of the mold, filled with hand weights and held in place with large elastic bands. It functioned, but was kinda a disaster every time.

Which brings us to the new one.

I found some premium plywood in the garage that was left over from Tim’s cat tree project and cut out 2, 15″ x 15″ squares. Then I measured to the middle and made a circle showing where molds could fit – up to 1 foot in diameter (important for my cider press plans) and decided where the holes for the carriage bolts should go, two inches in on each corner:

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Then I drilled the holes for the 10 inch long (3/8″) carriage bolts and tried those out:

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That seemed to work well, so I drilled the holes on the other board, essentially creating a large flower press. On the top board I drilled three holes for the smaller 6 inch bolts that I am using to keep the Olympic style weights in place. (the Olympic style ones have three large holes, which makes them easier to use, but one could just drill one hole in the center and put one bar in for regular style weights)

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tightened everything down so the bolts would be flush with the wood as much as possible, and then tried it out:Image

You’ll notice in that picture I’ve noted the weight of the board on the top so I can take that into consideration when I am pressing cheese. I’ll need to buy another weight, this time only 2.5 pounds(the smallest size they make) to make it get closer to the low end of the 5 pounds of pressure.

Haven’t tried it with cheese yet, but it definitely puts pressure and holds things well under pressure. I am using a food safe plastic lid between the cheese mold and then top plate, and will use a cutting board under the press to catch the whey.

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