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Deluxe Basic Cheese Making Set (K1, RW1 & BR12)

Item #:G3 

Delux Basic Cheese Making Kit

Retail: $43.40    Our Price: $39.95
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Availability: In Stock
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If you are a beginner cheese maker this is the set for you!!! With a little effort and a lot of fun, you can make eight varieties of your very own preservative free cheeses: Farmhouse Cheddar, Gouda, Monterey Jack, Feta, Cottage Cheese, Colby, Parmesan and Ricotta. Start now and make this a family tradition. Our set comes with Ricki's Basic Cheese Making Kit, 1pound of Red Cheese Wax and a Natural Bristle Brush for waxing.

CONTENTS:
Basket Mold (M222), Vegetable Rennet Tablets (R4), Mesophilic DS Starter (C101), Thermophilic DS Starter (C201), Dairy Thermometer***, 1/2oz. Calcium Chloride (C14), 1 yd Re-usable Cheesecloth (U1), Recipe Booklet, Red Cheese Wax (RW1), Natural Bristle Brush (BR12)   

***Thermometer not as shown. Actual thermometer in kit is 5" stem, 1" dial head, no clip.

STORAGE: Rennet tablets, mesophilic culture and thermophilic culture should be stored in the freezer. Rennet tablets will last up to 5 years and cultures will keep up to two years if stored properly. Calcium chloride should be stored tightly sealed in a cool, dark place.

This Deluxe cheese making set contains Ricki's Basic Cheese Making Kit, 1pound of Red Wax and a Natural Bristle Brush, everything you need to make a variety of delicious cheeses. (Farmhouse Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Cottage Cheese, Gouda, Parmesan and Feta)

When you buy this all in 
a kit you are saving

$3.45!

 

  • Why Wax?
    Waxing is perhaps the most convenient way to protect the cheese during aging and keep the cheese moisture in the desired range.
  • Can I save time using wax?
    Yes, if done properly the cheese will be much easier to keep mold free after waxing and the moisture loss will be reduced. Very little needs to be done to a waxed cheese other than maintaining the proper temperature/moisture levels and turning it over on the shelf every week or so. Less time brushing, rubbing and turning cheese.
  • What about mold?
    If the mold is removed prior to waxing and the waxing is done properly, mold development under the wax will not be a problem.
  • The right wax temperature?
    As explained below, the wax temperature really needs to reach 224-236F (Please see wax temperature warning below) then held in the wax for at least 6 seconds to "flash" the mold spores. However, some folks do choose to take the safer route and use wax melted in a water bath (as described in Ricki's book) and have great results with that. See below for more details on the two methods.
  • Which Wax to use?
    This is a frequent question here. Our cheese wax is a special microcrystalline wax that will resist cracking and hold up to the daily bumps and bruises of aging cheese. The color of the wax makes no difference, but our "yellow" wax contains no colorant. Paraffin is much too soft and will readily crack during aging, allowing molds to enter and grow on the cheese surface. Bees wax is nice but does not have the strength to survive aging unless handled carefully.

Click on any image for a closer view
Clean the Cheese before waxing
Once the cheese is formed and pressed, it will need to dry off for a few days at a cool temp with good circulation.
A loose pice of cheesecloth laid over the cheese should keep dust and debris off the cheese but mold may develop as seen here after a week.
Before the cheese can be waxed, the mold needs to be removed. This can be done with a brine wash or vinegar wash. Both high acid and high salt will discourage mold from growing. I prefer the brine wash with ~ 1 tsp salt to a cup of cool water. As you can see in the photos, the mold wipes away easily. Photo at left shows the clean cheese ready for waxing.
The cheese will dry and be ready for waxing in an hour or two.

Waxing at lower (safer) temperature

We begin here by heating the wax in a pan of water on the stove. This will work if you work quickly and have a very clean cheese surface, but many of our customers do come to us with questions on mold developing under the wax, when it is done this way.
This is the safest method (especially with small children around).

Using this method, the wax will never reach much more than 198-204F since boiling water can only reach 212F and some heat is lost in transfer. This may not be enough to kill the mold spores if they find their way to the cheese surface.

Once the wax is hot, you may begin applying wax with a brush. It is a good idea to put a piece of aluminum foil down to catch the drips between wax pot and cheese. The key here is to work quickly and use plenty of wax on the brush to get a good cover coat. Do not over brush. Do the top surface and as much of one side as you can get, then allow this to harden before doing the remaining cheese surface. Give it at least a second coat to make sure a good protective layer is created.

This method will allow a smaller quantity of wax to be used since only a container large enough to dip the brush in is needed. It is, however, a bit messier since the brush is difficult to clean.

Cleaning the Brush:
Immediately after waxing scrape brush accumulation of wax on the edge of the melting pot and while still very hot wipe as much wax from brush as possible with rags or paper towels. Discard these papers/rags when done. The brush will still be stiff but can be easily softened in hot wax for next waxing.

Store the wax covered and the brush in a bag to keep dust out between waxings.

Pros: This method usually requires less wax to be heated (just enough to dip the brush and coat the cheese) and it is safer since the wax is never heated to a dangerous temperature.

Cons: The temperature is not hot enough to kill the mold spores and mold may develop under the wax. If the cheese is dried in a clean environment covered with a sanitized dry cloth this may not be a problem.


Waxing at a higher temp
While the cheese dries you can begin heating the wax.
Please look at our CAUTION STATEMENT below on direct heating of wax on the stove.

In the pictures above I have heated my wax to 224-236F. At this temperature the wax is extremely hot and remember, it is not like boiling water since it is much hotter and the wax will stick and retain that heat. Work cautiously and make sure you have a good grip on the cheese before dipping.

The first thing to do after heating the wax is to turn the burner off and place a piece of foil on the stove or work surface to catch the drips (MUCH easier to clean up). Dip the top of the cheese, let that cool, then dip the bottom. Once these surfaces are cool rotate one half of the cheese edge in the wax, let that cool, and then wax the other half.

I always do a double dip when waxing - dip - cool - dip again.

When finished, simply allow the wax to cool and then store it covered on the shelf to keep dust out.

 

Pros: This method will kill the mold spores on the cheese surface so that you should have little trouble with mold growing under the wax. Also, there is no messy brush to clean.

Cons: You MUST use CAUTION when heating wax directly on the burner. This also uses more wax then the first method since the entire cheese surface needs to be dipped into the wax.


In the Cave

Once waxed, the cheese can be stored in your aging area, but the proper temperature and moisture levels (usually 52-56F and 85% moisture) need to be maintained.

You should continue to turn the cheese weekly and check for any mold growing under the wax.


What to do if mold develops under the wax

If you find mold has started to grow on a waxed cheese, either the surface was not heated hot enough during the waxing

 

Aging Information

1. Where can I age my cheese?

The following is taken from an excellent article in the Winter 2006 newsletter:

1. You can use your existing refrigerator, but unfortunately it is 10 - 15 degrees cooler then a cave and it has a tendency to suck the moisture out of anything that is unprotected.

To protect the cheese, place it in the warmest part of the refrigerator. To keep it from drying out, you will need an airtight container. The size of the container should be much larger than the cheese - 40% cheese and 60% empty space (air). You can control the humidity of the air inside the container by using a wet paper towel, crumpled up in a ball and placed in a corner of the container.

2. You can modify an old refrigerator. The temperature can be easily controlled with a regulator like our refrigerator thermostat. Plug it in and set it to 52-55F. The humidity can be controlled by simply using a pan of water with a partial cover. By simply adjusting the cover opening, you should be able to control the amount of humidity.

At times you may need to seriously increase the amount of moisture in the box, especially when starting out. In this case, you may need to spray the inside with sterile water or provide a damp towel. You will also notice that as the seasons change, you will have abrupt changes in the moisture level. The amount of cheese inside the cave will also affect the amount of moisture needed because there is less of a problem when it is filled with moist cheeses.

3. You can also find a cool space in the cellar where the cheese can be protected in a cabinet or in covered plastic boxes. This cool cellar will do a pretty good job, with stable temperatures during most of the year. However, controlling the humidity will still be a bit of a challenge.

Plastic boxes with lids will work well to conserve moisture. Simply use a wet sponge or paper towel to maintain the moisture needed. The paper towel or sponge should not be dripping wet. The object is to introduce moisture to the air and not to leave the bottom of your container with standing water. The paper towel should not be touching the cheese. (The air should be damp, not the cheese.)

If you are also using plastic boxes for draining your soft ripened cheese, make sure you keep clearing the draining whey so the cheese is not in contact with it. If you then use the box for drying, remove the top and use a fan to provide gentle air movement.

When using the plastic boxes, several considerations are important;

The first is not to let too much moisture build up inside on the cover and drip onto the cheese. If you see moisture condensing on the lid or collecting in the bottom, make sure you wipe it off when turning the cheese. You do not want a wet surface to develop or mold may become a serious problem. Also, when using these for soft ripened and high moisture cheeses that continue to drain for several days, pay close attention to the moisture build up.

Mats should also be used in these boxes to keep the cheese off of the bottom surface to allow them to breathe and keep away from excessive moisture.

Since the volume of air in these boxes is somewhat limited, they should be opened frequently to exchange the gases produced by ripening for fresh air. This is especially important with higher moisture young cheeses.

2. If I don't have exactly the right temperature and humidity, will I make anyone sick from eating my cheese?

Cheese is usually safe to eat if you pay close attention to healthy milk supplies and the process. If your milk comes with bad bacteria, it may very well survive the process and cause health issues. For this reason, it is important to have a healthy starter culture to prevent other bacteria from getting a hold in your cheese  Of course, sanitation is always essential.

3. After only a few days of drying, my cheese has mold on it.

This is natural. Wipe it down with a cloth soaked in heavy salt water.

4. My cheese is developing cracks during the drying stage. Should I be pressing it more?

Your problem is not the cheese inside being too moist but the air outside being too dry. During the winter the air humidity is nil. We pump about 5 gallons of water a week into our cave when the temperatures here drop too low. This is a common problem during the winter and you will need to find a more humid area for these cheeses (65-75% will work).

Thinking about pressing more for a drier cheese is not an option. The final moisture control needs to be done in the pot with the heating and stirring. Your final cheese will have two types of moisture; water bound in the curd that is not going to be released by press and water that is free and can be removed by pressing. Pressing is for consolidation of the curd and the release of final moisture.

5. Why is my cheese dry and crumbly?

Too much acidity developed in the cheese... As the acid increased, it caused the calcium balance to change (less calcium in the cheese). This caused a weaker bond for the curd and hence a less elastic, more brittle cheese. The excess acidity also caused the curds to shrink and to force out more moisture over time. This is commonly known as 'acid cut.' The cause of this can be one or a combination of two problems:

1... too much culture or too long a ripening time which creates more acid

2 ... not a long enough stir after heating to drive off excess lactose. This lactose will carry over into the later stages and provide the fuel to continue to produce acid.

Next time add less culture (20-50%) and/or stir a bit longer in the pot until the curd seems a bit drier. A combination of these two should get you back on track. If you are using our small packs of culture, cut back to 1/2-3/4 pack for two gallons or go to making 3-4 gallons with one pack.

http://www.cheesemaking.com/images/contentimages/naturalrinds/MF-2.jpg6. When it was done aging, my cheese had mold all through it.

This is an indication that the cheese was not prepared well. The interior should be a single consolidation of the cheese curds which should not allow the mold to develop internally. This growth could be due to many things; the curds being too dry before pressing which allows them to cool too much, not using enough weight when pressing or nor pressing long enough.

7. Why is my cheese coming out white instead of yellow?

The color of cheese comes from the milk. If the herd is grass fed you will get a rich cream to yellow color. If it is a silage fed herd it will be white. If you want your cheese to be yellow, you will need to add cheese coloring (Annatto).

Salt Brining Cheese

The primary reason for salting cheese is to slow down or stop the bacteria process of converting lactose to lactic acid. During the brine process, most of the lactose is removed. If the cheese were not salted, the residual moisture contains enough lactose to produce more acid than is ideal for a proper curd ripening. The secondary purpose is for the cheese flavor.
Salting of the cheese will also pull moisture from the surface and begin forming the rind of the cheese. This will also tend to inhibit the growth of many molds.

How do I brine my Cheese ?

  • When do we salt ?
    When the final pressing has been completed the cheese is moved to a cool cave to stabilize it's temperature to that of the brine. Brining a warm cheese will increase the rate of salt absorption and cause over salting.
     Prepare your brine or, if you have been storing a good brine, simply pour this into a non reactive pan.
    A simple brine formula is:
  • - 1 Gallon of water to which is added 2.25 Lbs of Salt, 1tbs. Calcium Chloride (30% solution), and 1 tsp. white vinegar.
  • This will result in saturated brine at 5.2 pH, suitable for most cheeses.

      Place the cheese into the brine. The density of the brine will cause the cheese to float, which will result in the surface of the cheese rising out of the brine. This means the surface of your cheese will not get salted during the brine process like the bulk of your cheese. To remedy this, simply toss a small amount of salt on the surface of your cheese. This will cause your cheese surface to form its own brine due to surface moisture.
  • How long should cheese be brined for ?
    Cheeses of different densities and shapes will require varying times in the brine. A general rule is 1 hour per lb. per each 1 inch thickness of cheese. A very dense low moisture cheese such as Parma will need more time than a moist open texture cheese.
  • How should the cheese be handled after brining ?
    Once a cheese has been brined, it should be drained and allowed to air dry, while turning, for a day or so. Once a dry firm surface is observed, the cheese is then ready for waxing or the development of natural rinds.

What details are involved in salting with a brine ?

  • What is enough salt ?
    The brine is usually made up to a saturated strength. This means adding salt until the salt no longer dissolves when added.
  • How do we replenish the salt ?
    When adding fresh cheese to a brine, always make sure to sprinkle a good amount of salt on the surface of the floating cheese.
  • What else does the brine need to be ideal?
    ...Brine should be kept to as cool a temperature as possible. Most folks keep it at 52-54F and store it in the cave area to keep cool.
    ...It should also be stabilized at an acid level similar to the cheese being salted. This is usually in the pH 5.4-4.9 range.
    ...Fresh brine needs to have Calcium added because low Ca in the brine will cause the Ca inside the cheese (responsible for binding the proteins) to be pulled into the brine. This will in time cause a weakening of the curd structure and a softening of the rind.

    When making fresh brine, I usually add about a cup of clear whey to each gallon of brine (for the calcium it contains) and as much salt as will dissolve, then just a bit more to see that it is saturated. This will be about 23% at the cave temps. I then add a bit of citric acid to reach my target pH (that of the cheese being brined).
  • How long will the brine keep?
    I keep my brine here for a year or two. If it gets moldy or starts looking somewhat bad, I simply bring it to a boil and refilter it.
    Dumping this heavy load of salt down the drain is hard on the water treatment system. I feel that a good brine gets better with time. In Italy and France, I see the recirculation and filtering of brine almost everywhere. When asked, some cheese makers say they can not remember changing the brine.
  • How should you manage the brine?
    Most people keep the brine tanks covered and filter it when it looks dirty or cloudy. Others use a system of constant recirculation through filters. I filter mine with cotton balls back into gallon jugs between my small cheese making batches. I do check the brine pH and saturation regularly. The calcium level is not an issue after the first batch or so since some calcium will always be coming out of fresh cheese until an equilibrium is reached between curd and brine. Remember to keep the brine cool because at warmer temperatures some molds will grow (halophillic .. salt tolerant). Also, if the brine saturation drops below 16%, there are many molds that can grow in this. Remember, if you see this happen, just boil and filter the brine and correct the situation.
    I tend to use funnels.

Product Reviews
Overall Customer Rating:
Customer Reviews: 4
What a great way to start
Rating:
Author:
Melanie
Location:
Canada

Pros:
Cons:
I found this kit at my local specialty grocery store and purchased it on a whim. I made a couple mistakes with my first batch, but it was smooth sailing from there. It's like kitchen alchemy. I'm hooked!
Thermometer And Bristle Brush Recieved Not As Pictured
Rating:
Author:
SeattleIT
Location:
Seattle

Pros:
Cons:
Ok, again I am new to cheesemeking. I ordered this kit because I wanted to make sure I had some of the items that may be necessary in the process without purchasing them separately. Not to be too picky, however, when I look at a picture and base my purchasing decision on it; I expect it to be exactly the same. The brush I received has blue around the base (Not as pictured). Although this is not crucial I have been trying to eradicate the blue stuff in my life and coordinate to the colors I prefer. Ok, I'll get over it. However, the mini-budget thermometer I received was not the same in the picture either. This was kind of a big deal to me. Although I did not expect a 'top-of-the-line' thermometer, I did expect one like the one shown in the picture. My eyesight is not what it used to be. I received one that is so small of a dial and thin clip that I'm going to have a lot of difficulty seeing it. I just wanted to express my disappointment over this, and warn others about this issue. Otherwise, hopefully the rest will go well when I finally get a chance to attempt the process.
Fair kit, instructions are missing many details, not worth the money in my opinion
Rating:
Author:
abw
Location:

Pros:
  • learn to make cheese
  • most ingredients are included
Cons:
  • poor instructions
  • expensive for what is included
I bought it thinking that being a deluxe kit, it would be pretty dang good. I had moderate expectations, and once I received the kit, I was let down.



It includes what you see in the picture, that is correct, but I was expecting more quantity. To be perfectly frank, what I see in this kit only seems to be worth $25 at the very most. I realize she has to make a profit, but I expected double the rennet and starter cultures. It feels like a sample pack to me.



My biggest complaint is the recipe booklet. Honestly I feel like she wrote it in a rush and expects people to know more than a novice. She mentions butter muslin for equipment, but doesn't explain what it is or even give a drawing. There are almost no troubleshooting steps involved. As a perfect example, she mentions to test for a clean break after 45 minutes, if none, use more rennet next time. WAIT! Does that mean my cheese is ruined or keep using it? Can I wait longer? She doesn't answer these questions. I ended up finding a MUCH more detailed procedure, with troubleshooting, on a university web site. It turns out that clean break can happen between 45 minutes to 3 hours, again, she doesn't mention this. Mine took 2 hours. She mentions to use cheese salt, which I have never heard of, and my roommate who is a cook hasn't either. No sample is included. Another BIG complaint is she doesn't mention when and when not to use heat. Only at the beginning she says to warm the milk to 90F, wait 45 minutes, add cultures and rennet, and wait another 45. So... am I supposed to keep the heat on, or turn it off and let it naturally below below 90F?



There are a handful of other items that are either hidden in the booklet, or missing. I realize if she included everything, it would be huge, but far too many little details are missing. This truly looks like it was just thrown together.



Are these any positives? Well, I made my first batch yesterday, partially thanks to her kit, but mostly thanks to pictures and detailed instructions on that university web site I mentioned. Buying her kit saved me from having to separately find all of the ingredients, and the cheese mold is nice, if not a little small.



Bottom line: if you need detailed instructions with good troubleshooting, don't rely on the included booklet. I strongly feel the kit is too small for the price. Get a cheese making book or look for better instructions somewhere else. Would I buy this again? No. Would I recommend it? No.
Making Farmhouse Cheddar
Rating:
Author:
Nomadic Chef
Location:
Providence, RI

Pros:
Cons:
Let the Cheese Making Commence:

Although I have dabbled in making soft cheeses (such as mozzarella) in the various hotels and restaurants that I have worked in I have never really had the opportunity to make different types of cheeses, more specifically hard cheese. That's about to change.



Want to see pictures? http://dstuchel.blogspot.com/2011/08/making-farmhouse-cheddar.html

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Thanks for joining our cheese making family, keep those stories & photos coming. We love to hear from you!

In Peace,
Ricki, the cheese queen

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