THE CHEESE-MAKING PROCESS: HARD CHEESES

1. BEFORE YOU BEGIN: STERILISE EQUIPMENT
Sterilise all of your cheese-making equipment before you begin: you can sterilise using a hot wash in your dishwasher, or rinse equipment in a sterilising agent (i.e. iodophor or brewing sterilising agent) before use. 
   
2. ADD CALCIUM CHLORIDE TO MILK (IF REQUIRED)
Dilute the calcium chloride in ¼ cup of filtered water (or a few tablespoons of the milk) then add the calcium chloride solution into your milk. Adding calcium chloride usually means extra rennet is also required (check recipe for details). Calcium chloride is often added when using pasteurised and homogenised milk.
   
3. WARM MILK
Heat the milk to the required temperature.
   
4. ADD CHEESE CULTURE
Cheese varieties are made using different starter cultures. Lactic acid bacteria convert the milk’s sugar (lactose) into lactic acid during the ripening stage. Different starter cultures require different temperatures, so follow your recipe carefully and ensure you measure the cheese culture correctly – too much is not a good thing in cheese-making!
   
5. ADD RENNET
Rennet is mixed into filtered water and then added at a certain temperature (follow your recipe for directions). Rennet causes the milk to curdle – joining the fat, protein and other milk solids together to form a solid curd – as the mixture is kept at the recipe’s temperature for a period of time.
   
6. CHECK FOR A CLEAN BREAK
The curd should have a thick consistency and hold together, similar to tofu, and not soft like yoghurt. With various fat contents of milk, and some milk being fresher than others, batches may vary in time – so it is a good idea to practice watching and learning when the curd is ready. Cut into the curd with a knife and lift slightly. If the edge of the curd splits easily (not too soft) and remains separated in the pot, then it is ready to proceed – if not, wait another five minutes and then try again. 
   
7a. CUT THE CURD
Cut the curd into even pieces to dispel whey. 
7b. COOK THE CURD
Cook the curd over a low temperature to remove extra whey and create a firmer consistency.
7c. WASH CURDS
Remove the remaining way and reduce acidity development to create a sweeter, firm cheese.
   
8. DRAIN THE CURDS
Line a colander with cheese cloth and carefully collect the curds. Drain curds and collect whey for another use.
   
9. MILL THE CURDS
Place the drained curds into a bowl and stir to break into very small pieces. 
   
10. SALT THE CURDS
Add flavour by sprinkling curds with cheese salt and mix well.
   
11. PRESS THE CHEESE
Line a cheese mould with cheesecloth. Add salted curds. Cover with cheesecloth and press for time and weight according to the recipe. 
   
12a. DEVELOP A NATURAL RIND
Hard cheeses are placed onto a cheese mat at room temperature to develop a natural rind.
12b. WAX THE CHEESE
Ensure cheese surface is free of dust and mould (rub with salt water to remove and then dry the surface) before dipping the cheese into hot cheese wax (or brushing the wax on).
12c. AGE THE CHEESE
Label and date the waxed cheese before placing into the cheese cave to age for the time, temperature and humidity stated in the recipe. 

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