Wensleydale Video Tutorial

As promised, here is another of the cheese making tutorials.  This time it is a Wensleydale video tutorial.  I made it about a year ago, but the method is still the same as the last post. I hope you enjoy it and if you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will endeavour to answer it.

No wonder Wallace and Gromit like it so much!

Now for a little joke;

I was having lunch with my son Adam a year ago, and he asked, “Dad, what are you doing tonight?”

I replied, “I am waxing the Wensleydale”.

He retorted, “So that’s what the kids call it these days!”

I just could not stop laughing. He is a funny lad, and a chip of the old block. Cheese block that is!

wensleydale video tutorial - waxing the wensleydale

Wensleydale Cheese

Of all the cheese that I have made so far, I believe that Wensleydale is my sentimental favourite.  Why you ask?  Well if you like Wallace and Gromit as much as our family does, then you would have figured it out already

You see, both Wallace and Gromit have a fancy for Wensleydale, as do I.

Here is a bit about the cheese itself. Wensleydale cheese is a firm and slightly flaky cheese but not dry and crumbly, in fact quite the reverse, it’s moist and quite succulent with a melt in the mouth forte to it. Slightly sweet but not that it is immediately noticeable and with no after-taste, Wensleydale is perfect to accompany all fresh fruits including apples, pears, grapes, grapefruit and strawberries to name but a few.

Also nice with a glass of light wine, or a cold beer with a Wensleydale ploughman’s lunch, Wensleydale is also great on rye or crackers.  It was made popular again by the Wallace and Gromit movies, and sales took off in the UK.

Anyway, enough about those two.  Have a look at this one that I prepared earlier

Here is the cheese recipe I use for Wensleydale. Just make sure you have at least 9 hours up your sleeve and don’t start making it at 7pm and end up finishing at 3am like I did a few weeks ago!

Wensleydale Cheese

Makes about 850 gm (2 pounds)

  • 8 litres (2 gallons) whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon Direct set Mesophilic culture
  • 2.5 ml Rennet mixed with 25 ml non-chlorinated water
  • 3 ml Calcium Chloride if using homogenised milk
  • 3 teaspoons non-ionised salt

Sterilise all equipment. I put a litre of water into the pot, put all utensils in it, cover and boil for 15 minutes. Anything that may melt, I wipe down with vinegar and a boiled cloth. If I handle the milk/curds or finished cheese, I spray vinegar on my hands from a spray bottle and rub together until dry. That way the milk will not get infected by any wild yeasts or molds that maybe on my hands.

Using a double boiler, heat the milk to 30°C (86°F). If using homogenised milk, add calcium chloride to 2 tablespoons water and mix to the milk gently. Add Mesophilic starter, mix well for a minute, cover and allow milk to ripen for 45 minutes.

Add rennet whilst stirring and stir bottom to top for 2 minutes. Cover and allow to stand for 45 minutes until the curd sets, maintaining the temperature. Test with your finger for a clean break in the curds, then cut the curd into 13 mm cubes and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Stir the curds and whey for 10 minutes, then let rest for 15 minutes. Stir the curd again as you raise the temperature to 32°C (90°F). Maintain this temperature, and stir the curd as often as necessary to stop the curd knitting together. Do this for 2 hours.

Drain the whey off and ladle the curd into a colander lined with cheesecloth. Tie in a bundle and for 2 hours, open every 15 minutes to break the curd into small pieces.

After the two hours break up the curd for one final time and apply the salt. Mix the curds and salt well.

Place half the curd into a cheesecloth lined 1 kg cheese basket and apply a layer of sterilised sage leaves (sterilise on clean oven tray at 120C (250F) for 10 minutes), pressing down well.

Fill with remainder of curd and press at 5kg (10 pounds) for 15 minutes. Carefully remove cheese from cloth, turn over and press at 25kg (50 pounds) for 12 hours.

Remove from press and cheesecloth. Place on a board and allow to dry for 2 days. Apply wax and store at 13-15°C (55-59F) at 80-85% humidity. Can be eaten in 3 weeks or aged for up to 3 months.

This is a wonderful cheese, and I have never been able to find Wensleydale in the local grocery store. There is no equal as far as I am concerned and beats the store bought tasty cheddar any day.

Cheesy dreams everyone!

Making Brine for Cheese

Salt is an essential ingredient in cheese.  It expels whey, slows the conversion of lactose to lactic acid and preserves the cheese.  It also adds flavour and helps form a rind.  The oft quoted “Cheese is milk’s leap towards immortality” would not be so, if it was not for salt.

There are two ways to add salt to the curds before maturing a cheese.  One method is to add salt directly to the curds during milling, and the other method is to soak the pressed cheese in a brine solution.  Cheese like Parmesan, Romano, Feta and Edam are soaked in brine so that the salt is absorbed and it preserves the cheese.  Others like to brine Caerphilly or Camembert.

So how do you go about making brine for cheese?  Well it is pretty simple.  I boil up 2 litres (approx 2 quarts) and add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of non-ionised salt and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and teaspoon of calcium chloride.

Then I let it cool and submerge the cheese, which usually floats to the top.I find that this is just enough salt, and the vinegar and calcium chloride stops the cheese from leaching calcium back into the brine.  I then reuse the brine as a washing solution on other hard cheeses to help inhibit mould growth.

Parmesan waiting for the brine to cool.

Just make sure that you cool to room temperature before adding finished cheese.  In fact it is best if both brine and cheese are at the same temperature.

How long do you leave it in the brine?  Well it depends on the density of the cheese.  A nice hard cheese like Parmesan needs at least 24 hours.  Ricki Carol’s cheesemaking.com site recommends the following:

“Cheeses of different densities and shapes will require varying times in the brine. A general rule is 1 hour per lb (450gm). per each 1 inch (2.5cm) thickness of cheese. A very dense low moisture cheese such as Parma will need more time than a moist open texture cheese.”

If you like you can store the brine for future use in the fridge.

I hope this answers any brine questions anyone has.  If you have a cheese question, I am more than happy to see if I can answer it.  If not, I will refer you to the Internet experts.