Cheesemaking Tools from Gianaclis Caldwell's "Mastering Basic Cheesemaking"

| 4/26/2019 4:04:00 PM

If you are thinking of starting to make your own cheese, then you will need to be familiar with the tools of the trade. This excerpt from Gianaclis Caldwell’s latest book, Mastering Basic Cheesemaking, explains the functions of the tools a beginner cheesemaker needs in order to make their fromage foray.

A stainless steel screw press with pressure gauge.
Photo by Gianaclis Caldwell


Very few cheese types need the extreme pressure that a mechanical press provides. Most cheeses can be made by using other weights, such as water jugs or barbells. A cheese only needs as much weight as it takes to press the rind closed and tighten the paste (as the interior of the cheese is called) to the desired texture. If the curd is salted before it goes into the press, as with cheddar  and some other cheese types, then the tremendous force of a mechanical press is required in order to get the curd to knit back together. Similarly, curd that is very dry by the end of the process, such as with Parmesan-type cheeses, will likely need a mechanical press. Small screw-type presses that will make about a five-pound wheel of cheese can be purchased from a cheesemaking supply company. They are relatively expensive.

A ratcheting strap press can be made for under $10.00 and will work with any straight-sided cheese form and follower. Pictured here with a large tomme form capable of making an 8 lb (4 kg) cheese.
Photo by Gianaclis Caldwell

Mats and Racks

Mats and racks are needed to set draining and drying cheeses on. They allow for air circulation around the cheese and let any dripping moisture fall away from the cheese. Cheese mats are made of food-grade plastic and look almost identical to plastic cross-stitch mats (available in craft stores). In fact, I know several commercial cheesemakers that use these craft store mats with no problem. Plastic sushi mats are another nice option. Stainless steel or coated cooling racks (also known as baker’s racks) are great to place underneath the plastic cheese mats to help increase drainage and airflow.

A cheese air drying (top right) and others aging vacuum sealed in Canadian cheesemaker Ian Treuer’s home aging unit. For more visit Much To Do About Cheese.
Photo by Ian Treuer

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