I eat all kinds of cheese in abundance but Cheddar cheese holds a special place in my diet. In fact, it’s not only one of my favourite foods but one of my favourite ingredients as well. So, when I got an opportunity to hang out with an artisan cheese maker for an afternoon, I was pretty excited!
My old friend Ruth Klahsen (she was one of my instructors at the Stratford Chefs school) is the owner and chief cheesemaker behind the much-acclaimed Monforte cheese company. She hooked me up with Rachel Bauman, one of her cheese makers, so that I could learn a little more about how my favourite food is transformed from liquid to solid.
While I learned enough to write a full-length article, one of the most fascinating tidbits I gleaned from Rachel is how cheese makers control mold growth when making the cloth bound Cheddar pictured above. Once the cheese curds are pressed into a form to make a wheel of cheese and it has drained for a while, the cheese maker coats each piece all over in lard and then wraps it up in cheesecloth. The mold you see on the outside of the cheese above is essential to develop delicious, sharp flavour; however, it must be kept in check. That’s where the lard comes in. It’s the food that the mold eats so that it doesn’t affect the cheese undesirably. Neat, huh?
What’s your favourite cheese? If you had to choose just one cheese to commit to for the rest of your life, could you?
In related news, check out this warning posted earlier this week on The Kitchn. Hearing about crappy tactics like this one make me love honest cheesemakers like Ruth and Rachel even more!