Holiday Cheese 2014: Christmas Curds

Following is a Cheddar Cheese recipe that will end at the curd stage. It is adapted from Kathy Biss’s book Practical Cheesemaking published by Crowood Press in 2002 by way of Cannington College in cheddar’s heartland: Somerset County, England.

Please be prepared to bring at least TWO batches of cheese curds to the Holiday Party: one flavored, and one plain. If you would like to bring additional flavors, please go right ahead.

Cheese curds are quite perishable in nature — they lose their “squeak” in just a few days time. Ideally this will be a Friday or Saturday batch before the Sunday party, but you will have to fit it into your schedule, obviously.

A portion of the curds will be used to prepare POUTINE for the party as well — after a tasting has been held and winners in the CLASSIC CURDS (plain) and the CRAZY CURDS (flavored) have been announced, so be prepared for things to get messy.

Curds that will be meant to be sold should be made from heat-treated or pasteurized milk. We will welcome, however, raw milk curds. Please label the milks (and treatment) so that we can compare the flavors of each!


Inoculate your raw or heat-treated milk at a temperature of 85degF with an MA culture (a mix of ssp. lactis and ssp. cremoris) at a rate of 5 DCU per 100 lbs. of milk.

Ripen for 1 hour (freeze dried culture) or 45 minutes (bulk wet culture).

Rennet with 9ml SINGLE STRENGTH per 100 gallons milk mixed in 5 to 6 times the water.

When the curd “splits cleanly” cut immediately into “wheat grain to small pea size” pieces.

Scald the curd by gently increasing the temp 2degF every 6 minutes reaching 102 – 104degF after 60 minutes.

Stir with the heat OFF after scalding another 45 to 60 minutes, allowing the temp to slowly drop. When the curds feel “shotty” — they bounce of the hand in the vat, and spring back when squeezed — let them settle for 10 minutes then carefully draw off the whey.

Cheddar by forming the curds into cakes, allow them to drain for 15 minutes, then cut the cakes and pile them to “press themselves” to release more whey while keeping warm. Repeat this cut and pile every 15 minutes in the vat (removing the drained whey if it doesn’t naturally leave the vat) until the HOT IRON TEST results in a 1.5 inch stretch.

To perform the Hot Iron Test, take a steel bar (steel skewer? clean fireplace poker?), heat it close to red in a flame, allow it to cool to black, then apply it to the back of a sample curd. When the curd has “cooked on” to the bar, pull it back to see how far the cheese strands will stretch. If they reach 1.5 inches or more, the curd is sufficiently acid to mill and salt.

(If you don’t have the Hot Iron technology, you may instead measure whey acidity to .75TA or pH 5.3 before milling.)

Mill curd cakes into rectangles *roughly* 1cm X 2cm X 4cm.

Salt at a rate of 2% (by weight of curds).

Allow the salt to be absorbed before flavoring your curds.

Good Luck!

Meeting: MONDAY Dec 16th at Noon

We had our Holiday Party which was postponed to a new day — MONDAY — December 16th (due to the snowy Sunday) from Noon to 4pm at 3 Level Farm in South China. Please consider attending for a merry potluck, including (hopefully!) a vast spread of Christmas Curds to taste…including some of yours!

I look forward to heralding and toasting good tidings with you all as we begin a journey into a new year…

–Eric Rector
President, Maine Cheese Guild

Holiday Havarti Recipe

It’s finally here! Bring yours to the Holiday Party on December 10th to taste how different makers make different cheese.

That means we all have to make our cheese at the same time: the week of October 15th should give enough time for it to age. Ready, set….

If you’re licensed, and you’re willing to donate your left-overs to the Guild after the party, we’ll be selling them to Maine cheese retailers as a Guild fundraiser.

Good luck and have fun!


Here’s a link to a PDF file of the Havarti Recipe for better printing.


From Dave Potter (DCI) Workshop, ACS Conference 2012

Milk should be around 4.8% butterfat; add cream if necessary.

Heat treat milk, then bring to 90degF

Add culture @ 5 DCU per 100 pounds milk: Probat 222, OR CHN 22, OR Mesophilic Aromatic B, OR MM100 plus LM57, OR Flor Danica that’s been cultured overnight

Add Calcium Chloride at rate of 30ml/1000 pounds of milk

Add color (optional) at rate of 3ml/1000 pounds of milk

After 45 minute ripening cultures, add rennet (single strength at 75ml/1000 pounds milk) diluted 40x

Measure floculation and wait 2.5x to 3x (firmer to softer cheese) — around 45 minutes total from renneting — before cutting.

Cut into 3/8″ pieces, then let heal for 5 minutes.

Stir slowly for 20 minutes.

Remove whey = to 1/3 original milk volume.

Add hot water (145degF) in same amount as removed to raise the vat temp to 102degF final cook temp.

Stir 30 minutes

Remove 40% of whey (which is less than the first remove).

Stir until curd is “firm curd” and a handful starts to stick together well, another 30 minutes, typically ending 90 minutes after cutting.

Hoop every mold, then immediately turn every cheese and place with the follower DOWN so it presses itself by its own weight. Ideally it drains in the bottom of an empty vat to keep the curd temp up.

Turn every 15 minutes for an hour.

Turn every hour until the pH is 5.8 – 6.0.

(If you’re making 20 pound wheels, you may want to chill your cheese overnight in a 50degF acidified (pH 5.2) water bath with 2oz/1000 pounds water of CaCl added.)

Otherwise place in saturated brine for 2.5-3.0 hours per lb. of cheese depending on desired salt content. Alternatively, rub cheese wheels with coarse flake dry salt once per day for each 3-4 lb. of cheese.

Air dry the cheese until it can be waxed, or vacuum sealed.

Wheels are aged at 50-55degF and 85-90% RH

If you wish to have a natural rind you will need to wash it with a coarse cloth or semi-firm brush dipped in 2-3 % brine solution. The solution is applied every other day and the cheeses are turned over. After approx. 30 days it is possible wash and turn the cheeses every 3-4 days. At this time the rind should be turning the characteristic orange color, which indicates the growth of Brevibacterium linens. After 60 days it is possible to use a dry brush for cleaning.