Cheese presses are an essential item in the cheese makers tool box. A cheese press is used to expel excess whey and assist in forming the curds into the familiar shapes during the semi-hard and hard cheese making processes.
For the home cheese maker, commercial cheese presses are way too big, so we have to opt for a smaller version.
There are many types that can be bought in kit form, or if you are handy enough, made at home DIY style. In this post we will be looking at various types of home cheese presses so that you can progress on your cheese making journey by pressing cheese at home.
Firstly, here is the small press that I use. I purchased it in kit form from Little Green Workshops quite a while ago. This is what it looks like flat packed.
The instructions are quite simple, and once assembled it looks like this.
I now have three of these presses, and they take cheese baskets from 145mm to 165mm in diameter.
I highly recommend that you buy the spring, which helps you to determine the amount of pressure that is applied to the curds. You have to use a bit of common sense when you use the spring. As it requires 22 kilograms or 50 lbs to close the spring, you have to estimate how far you have closed the spring. For instance, if you need 11 kg of pressure, tighten the handle until the spring is about half way closed. It is a rough guide, but I have never had any trouble pressing any of my cheeses to date.
So that is what I use. How about other cheese makers?
Fellow home cheese maker Aase from Denmark, uses a home-made press build by her husband that uses water filled bottles as weights.
I believe that this type of press is called a dutch press. It uses the weight applied via a lever to deliver the right amount of pressure to the curds. It is also tall enough so that you can stack cheese baskets upon each other and press many cheeses at the same time. Aase blogs about her cheese making at http://ostepressen.blogspot.com.au. It is written in Danish, however Google Translator does a good job for those who don’t speak the language.
Another cheese maker, Myron from Colorado USA, made his own press.
Here is what he had to say about it;
“My press has worked well for the (about) 10 cheeses I have pressed in it.
It is only built to accommodate the one ‘hoop’ I had available – a leftover piece of PVC water pipe. I sized it to fill to the top (before pressing) with curd from a 2 gallon recipe. I may build another one for a larger diameter lower profile hoop.
Instead of dressing in cheesecloth, I use a nylon mesh paint strainer. The one gallon size fits well in my press, the 5 gallon size is what I use while draining the curd. Easily washable & reusable. Cheap from a home building center or hardware store.”
Here are a few more pictures of his press with a Colby cheese that he was making.
You can see the nylon net that he uses instead of cheese cloth. The round of cheese looks well-formed.
In this closer picture, you can see the drainage holes in the mould that he made. From all accounts, Myron says that this press works very well.
Here is another home-made cheese press. This one is built by David Dawson from Manitoba, Canada. You may remember David from episode 5 of the podcast.
He has this to say about his press;
I made my own press (actually I made four – two for me and two for friends), and I made my own moulds. For these I used a slightly tapered jug, cutting off the top and bottom, and then drilling numerous holes in it.
You will notice that his press has wing nuts that is used to apply the pressure to the curds. I believe that the wood is maple hardwood and the base is a kitchen chopping board.
Here are some wheels of cheese that are fresh out of David’s cheese press. They look well-formed, and from what he tells me, they are very tasty.
Another reader, Judy from Ontario sent in this picture of a cheese press that her hubby made her after seeing that she was struggling with her old press. It look very practical.
Lastly, here is another method of pressing without the need for a press.
In this instance I used two square cheese baskets, which are normally used for pressing feta, and used a 2 litre (2 qt) milk carton filled with water as the weight. This equates to about 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of pressure.
After four hours of pressing it looked like this, ready for soaking in brine. This method works well with a smaller amount of curd.
Well there you have it. Many thanks to all the home cheese makers for sending me photos via email for this post.
Hopefully you now have a little more knowledge about home cheese presses. You may even be inspired enough to make your own!
Happy cheese pressing, and remember Keep Calm & Make Cheese!