Legend tells of a merchant traveling across the desert sometime after the first civilization took root. At his side was a skin full of liquid–a canteen more or less. The more appropriate word would have been stomach because…well it was basically a calf’s stomach–yum! And it was full to the brim with that trusty desert thirst quencher–MILK. Anyone queasy yet?
I only mention all these details because they turned out to be kind of important. So our dusty traveler stops to take a drink only to find his milk went chunky. His first instinct was probably to stick his head in the first water hole around but since it was the desert I guess he just toughed it out. But it turned out that the chunks weren’t bad–not like when milk goes bad normally.
The calf’s stomach was full of an enzyme called rennet which helps calves digest mother’s milk. The “breaking” of milk divides it into two things–one of them being the basis of cheese.
That’s kind of where the legend jumps to more modern times. I wonder how long mankind had to eat chunky milk/cheese before the first deliciously smooth smoky cheddar goodness.
Well thankfully we no longer have to worry about that…or do we?
My first forays into cheesemaking went great until the time came to make curds into cheese. My missing tool was a cheese press. I searched online and found a sleek stainless steel model-the Rolls Royce of cheese presses–with a Rolls Royce price. There was no way I was going to pay hundreds of dollars for a cheese press.
Lucky I found a few articles online and in print regarding building homemade cheese presses. Here’s my version of that design.
Materials you will need:
1. (2) stainless or galv 6″ shoulder bolts
2. (2) matching nuts (not the aircraft type with the locking plastic!)
3. A handful of matching washers
4. A small chunk of PVC (4″ diameter is a good place to start)
5. One 4″ knockout cap for the PVC
6. A wooden cutting board (about a foot long)–normally this will make the pusher board and the base surface.
7. A few smaller pieces of PVC, or wooden dowels of about 1″ in diameter
You should be able to pick up all of that for less than 10 bucks. You may find ways to substitute things so read the directions first and then modify (like I did).