Today in the Make Room


Once the weather changes, we muck out the hoop house weekly so that the milking ladies are lounging on the cleanest bedding possible.  Dan runs the tractor and Cara and Aidan hand rake.

That leaves me alone for the morning (or sometimes the whole day) in the make room moving the various cheeses through their stages of “make”.

This morning I came into the make room to a vat full of Canterbury cheese curd that had coagulated overnight — Dan and Aidan had pasteurized and cooled and added culture and rennet yesterday.

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Since I had 30 gallons of fresh goat milk waiting to go into the pasteurizer, emptying the curd in to bags to drain the whey was my first task.

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Once the curd was emptied, I washed the vat with a dairy cleanser and then sanitized it before loading the thirty gallons into it.  Usually it is a two person job, pouring each ten gallon can but I was alone so I hand ladled a half gallon at a time until it was half full and I could pour it on my own.  To pasteurize, we heat it to 145 degrees and hold it for 30 minutes and then follow whatever cheese recipe we are making.

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It takes about an hour to heat it to 145 degrees so I set to work on some other cheeses.

First I turned a batch of cheddar that is drying so that it would dry evenly.

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Then I rolled a batch of feta that is brining so they would brine evenly.

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I put away dishes, did some cleaning and set up the presses and molds for a batch of cheddar.

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Finally, the pasteurizing temps were reached.

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While the vat was pasteurizing, I washed two Funny Child batches with Newburgh Brewing Company Brown Ale.

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To make cheddar, I needed to cool the milk in the vat to 88 degrees (from 145 degrees) before I could add culture.  That took about a half an hour.  I did more dishes and clean-up while it was cooling.

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Once cooled, I added culture and let it ripen an hour.  I escaped the make room during this time, took some cute videos of all our babies and did some administrative and social media work in the house.  I ran up and added rennet to the vat and escaped again to have lunch with Dan and Aidan.

Then the serious cheddar work began.  First I cut the curd into one inch pieces and then let it rest for 10  minutes.

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I forgot to take pictures after this until the end.  Cheddar draws me in this way.  After resting, I turned on the vat and slowly heated the curd while stirring to 98 degrees, about 30 minutes.  I stirred another 30 minutes until the curd changed texture and lost its custardy soft inside.  I drained the whey and then ladled the curd into a draining box to form a solid brick.  That had to rest for 10 minutes.  I dumped the brick upside down into the hot vat and let it rest there 10 minutes.  Then I cheddared or cut the big brick into smaller slices and piled those into smaller bricks inside the vat. All of this “brick work” presses whey from the curds and meshes them together.  I flipped the smaller bricks every ten minutes about four times.  I watched for how it is draining and meshing to determine when to start handmilling the bricks.  Handmilling involves cutting the bricks into half inch pieces and salting and stirring them brick by brick all while they remain in the hot vat.  When all the brick are handmilled, I stirred the curd for 10, 15 or 30 minutes until the curds are nice and squeaky.  Then I loaded the curd into the presses, about a gallon of curds to each of the presses.  Once loaded I started a gentle press of 15 pounds of pressure for a half hour.  This gave me some time to clean the vat (again) and do some dishes.  The wheels were then flipped, redressed and pressed at 25 pounds of pressure for a half hour.  After that, the six wheels were flipped, redressed and pressed at 40 pounds for an hour.  I ran to CCHS to pick up Gabe from track practice.  Another flip, redress and press at 60 pounds of pressure.  Ran to Morehead to pick up minivan that had been in for a recall repair and oil change.  Drove through the brush fires off 9W…scary!  Alrighty, last flip, redress and 80 pounds of pressure until tomorrow.  Remembered to take a picture as I was leaving….

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One Response to “Today in the Make Room”

  1. jan Says:

    No wonder you’re tired!

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