A Bit of History
This would have been the cheese made by folks having one or two cows, enough milk for the family and cooking and at times enough to make a few cheeses to preserve the milk through the cold season until the cows freshened again. These would have been small farms and even in-town families. In fact the old house (1852) with attached barn in the village where I live here in the northeast had several stalls, including 1 or 2 for the cow(s).
One of the first cheese making books that I ever read was by John Ehle titled "The Cheeses and Wines of England and France with Notes on Irish Whiskey." Now what is not to like about a book with a title like that?
This was, and still is, one of my favorite books to read on cheese making and the way it was done. I find myself going back to it quite often, it is just done so well. It was written back in the 1980's, and was soon out of print, but I managed to find a copy. I knew that Ricki had talked with the author about reprinting the book and had received permission to republish it. About a year ago, she reprinted it making it affordable for all! (I get no commission for saying all of this, I just love this book)!
The first chapter in John Ehle's book is about a visit with a traditional 'back of the stove' cheese maker in the mountains of North Carolina (already he has digressed from the title!).
Mrs. Kirby is her name, and it seems that she has been making cheese this way for some time. Mr. Ehle spends the day with Mrs. Kirby and gets a table/stove side view of how it has been and is still done. The storytelling is every bit as good as the information on cheese making itself.
The other source of info was a US Dept. of Agriculture Bulletin (no. 1734) printed in 1934, "Making American Cheese on the Farm."
This was a small brochure to help the women in the kitchen make a good quality cheese. The process was very similar to what Mrs. Kirby was doing above. The brochure was focused on aiding the farm/house wife in making a successful cheese that could be aged for family use during the cold months when the cow was dried off. The brochure was simple, yet quite detailed, and took the reader from milk source to the final bandaging and aging of the cheese.