Two rounds of successful cheesemaking put me into Very Bad Idea mode, and I started thinking of more ambitious things I could try besides just mozzarella. So last night I ended up staying up way too late watching videos on how to make cheddar. After seeing those, I think I’ll give it a miss. I love cheddar, of course; it’s one of my favorite cheeses. Extra sharp cheddar paired with tart apple cider is one of the great pleasures in life. But I’ll leave making it to the experts.
Cheddar requires a lot of extra effort to make. Adding cultures to the process isn’t really a big deal, but the cheese needs a lot more time to drain, a lot more careful temperature control, and then it needs a lot of pressing and aging. The aging, for me, is the ultimate problem. Not only am I not in a place where I feel I could be thrilled to set something aside for six months and see how it turns out then, but I don’t really have any suitable environment for aging cheese. So many, many things can go wrong in the process that you won’t know about for months.
Fresh cheddar cheese curd, on the other hand, takes the aging out of the equation. That I might actually consider sometime. Most of the other steps apply, but without the need to worry about aging the cheese, I could create fresh curd any time I felt like it, provided I had plenty of time on my hands. And then I could make garlic cheese curd, which I’ve developed a taste for but can’t find in sufficient quality outside of the Great New York State Fair.
Mozzarella, though, is easy. It’s a joy. The whole process takes less than an hour (cleaning the pot excluded, but that’s not so bad) and I’ve been thrilled with the results each time. I’ll obviously never be an artisanal cheesemaker, but the ambitious six-year-old devil on my shoulder (you know the one) keeps suggesting I should tinker just for the heck of it. And I’d certainly not be averse to making one of my favorite things: a roll of fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and basil. I came dangerously close to trying it recently.