It all started when I was given a copy of Ricki Carroll's Home Cheese Making book last year. Shortly thereafter I made my first cheese, a queso blanco that required nothing more than a gallon of milk, some vinegar, and a piece of cheesecloth. To my delight it turned out pretty good. About a week later I tried to recreate the cheese, but this time using goat's milk. It was decent, but was not as good as the one made from cow's milk, and there was a lot less of it. I later found out that this was because the size of the butterfat globules in the milks are different, and I was using a cheap cheesecloth instead of butter muslin (a finer, higher quality fabric). After these first two attempts I shelved the book for many months, until I recently became interested in giving it another shot.
This time around I knew I wanted to make a hard cheese, mainly because I wanted something with some real flavor. To make hard cheese I would need a starter culture, rennet, a mold to shape the cheese, a press, "real" cheesecloth, cheese wax, and cheese salt. Also, I would need a stainless steel pot bigger than the one I currently had, as well as a few additional pieces of equipment. So, I got to work locating the ingredients and equipment I needed, and last Saturday I made what I hope turns out to be my first successful hard cheese, a derby. It is currently drying out on a wooden board, and either tomorrow or the next day I will wax it and then age it for about three months. As of this morning, it smells INCREDIBLE. Makes me wonder why it even needs to be aged!
My plan is to make the derby cheese again, since I am now somewhat familiar with the lengthy technique. I will be posting pictures with step-by-step explanations of the entire process this next time around, which I plan to begin on Saturday, the 25th of this month.