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!


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