Any cheese maker must have the right tool used to press and shape cheese, an important step in the aging process.
Not only does pressing make sure that your cheese is properly dried after salting but is also vital in forming the perfect texture before it can be aged.
This article will help you get familiar with the different tools out there and how to use them to prepare your cheese the right way for the cheese cave:
Tool used to press and shape cheese
As hinted above, pressing influences the hardness of the cheese, the texture, and determines the shape of the final block/wheel of cheese.
You’ll have an easier time pressing and shaping hard cheese with the following tools:
1. Cheese mold
This tool is one of the classics for the manufacture of cheese at home and is widely known for its efficiency.
This is simply used to create and consolidate curds and will give your finished cheese the desired shape.
In most cases, you’ll need to turn over your cheese a couple of times with intervals of 2 hours (or as indicated for your specific model) in order to press the cheese into the right shape.
Keep in mind that there are different versions of cheese molds with some being made for specific kinds of cheese including types that do not always require the yoke of heavy compression weight.
What Kind Of Cheese Mold Do You Need?
Overall, cheese molds work amazingly well as long as you’re using the appropriate type.
Here is a small outline to point you in the right direction:
· Cheese mold with follower
A commercial cheese mold with follower like this is a safe bet for hard cheeses such as Parmigiano, Cheddar, Edammer, Tilsiter, Gauda, Gruyere, Emmentaler, Maasdam, and others.
And you’ll find these pretty straight forward to use.
· Kadova cheese molds
If you’re fantasizing about perfectly uniformed cheese with curved sides, we recommend Kadova brand cheese molds.
You won’t even need to use cheesecloth with these cheese molds (though you can if you so wish) yet it presses many kinds of cheese nicely.
Unsurprisingly, many professional cheese makers have this as part of their cheese-making tool box.
· DIY Cheese mold
Here is a big one: Perhaps your budget doesn’t allow you to spend on yet another piece of cheese making equipment.
Well, there’s no reason to panic- you can make cheese molds inexpensively at home using food grade containers.
If you’re going this route, we recommend that you cut your follower from solid wood (or strong plastic chopping boards) since they withstand heavy pressing.
2. Cheese Press
A cheese press presses whey from curds and helps form the curds into familiar shapes during the cheese-making process and is the other tool used to press and shape semi-hard and hard cheeses with fantastic results.
Sometimes a recipe calls for more weight and one way of increasing the weight here is by merely pressing down the top bar.
Like with cheese molds, you won’t necessarily need to shell big bucks on an expensive official cheese press and a simple DIY cheese press can get the job done as beautifully.
In fact, a homemade cheese press is rather uncomplicated to make- they mimic commercial cheese presses in design and comprise of springs, specific lumber, and pieces of metal joined together with nails and screws.
And make no mistake about its abilities- you can quickly press loads of yummy cheeses including Monterey Jack, Edammer, Gouda, Cheddar, Parmesan, Maasdam, and more with DIY cheese presses.
That said, a professional type cheese press may be the way to go if you’re looking at making a ton of cheese (particularly when dealing with different varieties).
What kind of cheese press do you need?
A smaller cheese press makes more economic sense for home cheese makers (unless you’re into a commercial operation).
Additionally, it’s easier to handle and learn.
These cheese presses come in various sizes and it’s important that you choose a suitably sized model for your convenience.
For those who, like me, are into DIY stuff, there are plenty of very do-able DIY cheese press plans online and you can get inspiration from these free designs.
Tips for pressing and shaping cheese
- Be careful when transferring the curds: Try to be cautious when transferring the curds to your cheese mold/press. This ensures the cheese is even and uniform.
- Use moist cheesecloth with molds: Dampening the cheesecloth that you line the mold with simplifies its handling and helps it remain in place as you fill the cheese mold.
Pro tip: Cut some of the cheesecloth to make it even more manageable during the operation, if necessary.
- Remove the empty spaces and uneven spots before you start pressing and shaping: Press your cheese a little bit (with clean hands) to clear any empty spaces and uneven spots. You’ll have less work in your hands with this hack.
- Be careful when removing the shaped cheese: Handle the pressed cheese with care. The cheese could still be delicate and may break easily when being removed from the tool used to press and shape cheese.
- Press it as much as possible: The more you press the cheese, the denser will be its texture.
What to do with the pressed cheese
What you do next depends on the type of cheese you have just finished pressing.
And while some cheeses (think fresh cheeses, Ricotta, Chevre, Cottage cheese, Cream cheese, etc.) will be ready to consume after being pressed into various shapes, most will need further aging or ripening.
Check what your recipe says then proceed with the specified step such as aging or brining.
Nothing is exciting as having your homemade cheese come out looking as good as the product on display at the cheese shop.
Use either of the above tools to create cheese that you can proudly show off when preparing for aging.
Both the tools are a cinch to use and maintain and may turn out to be a shrewd investment for your cheese making hobby.