Q & A

As I am always passing on your questions to Chris Ashby I thought a 'Questions and Answers' page would be a good idea. So please, if you have any technical questions, email them to info@cheesemaking.co.uk ; I will then pass them on to Chris who will probably reply direct to you with the advice and finally the information will appear on this page to help other budding cheese makers.

UPDATED: 30th November 2015

** As well as Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Ocado and Morrisons also sell whole and semi-skimmed, non homogenised milk.** Thank you Steve

** Top Tip. The best place to make cheese is in your kitchen sink. Run some hot water into the sink and place your large preserving pan, containing the milk, down into the sink. Keep a boiled kettle close by to top up the water in the sink as and when required. This is a gentle way of heating your milk and perfect for periods during the cheese making procedure when the curds are forming **

Q. My Camembert cheese broke in half during dry salting, can it be rescued?  From Caroline

A. There is no way of holding together a Camembert which has broken, the mould coat needs total exposure to air to grow, and bandaging, or using a rubber band (both used in rescuing Stilton) will limit the growth of the mould coat. The cheese is edible as a fresh cheese, so eat it now.

Q. I have just finished making my first hard cheese from your combined kit and now need to get it ready for storage. I currently have it in a spare fridge which is running at 10deg C at a humidity of 70 ... is this ok? I would like to try bandaging the cheese for storage as i have been initialy put off the idea of waxing. How long should i leave it before carrying out the bandaging (it only came out of the mould today ... Saturday)  From Steve

A. Bandaging the cheese can be done as soon as the cheese is removed from the press, the bandage being applied with butter, lard, or flour/water paste. If the cheese is small, then bandaging may not be the best option, the cheese can dry out too far and become extremely hard and dry, during the maturation period, so keep an eye on that. 10C is fine, but 70% humidity is too low, 80-85% is better.

Q. I rerecently pressed my first cheddar and got a rough surface due to the cheesecloth sticking slightly. Is there a good way to prevent this and achieve a smooth surface? From Adam

A. Cheesecloth should not stick to the surface of the cheese during pressing. It will do so if the cheese dries out too much during the time in press, and there is no way of recovering from the damage. So make sure the cheese stays moist whilst it is in press, using 5% salted water, at the same temperature of the cheese, to keep the cheesecloth moist, if whey does not do it. The cheese will not absorb the moisture.

Q. Made a hard cheddar using your kit compressed perfectly fine coated it with the wax purchased off yourself and I have noticed white mould forming underneath the wax. I know it sounds like a daft question as cheese is mould itself is this normal?  From Philip

A. Wax needs to be applied to a completely dry cheese, if it isn't, then gaps between the wax and the cheese will allow mould to grow. This is not desirable, the cheese should be stripped of the wax, mould removed and the wax reapplied to the cheese once it is totally dry.

Q. Can you tell me if its possible to store cheddar cheese and camembert together whilst they are maturing? I have a fridge that has been adapted to store at any temperature required.  From Jo Adams

A. Yes, it is possible. The camembert needs a higher humidity than the cheddar, but if it is kept on a rack, in a box, it can be stored wit the cheddar.

Q. Help! A month ago I made my first cheddar using your fantastic cheese kit and everything went according to plan. I've turned my cheese correctly kept the humidity and the white mallow mould had been developing at a slow steady rate, I did have a few spots of kitten hair mould which I rubbed with brine which got rid of it. All was going great until today, checked the cheese and both the top and bottom are bright illuminous yellow. Is my cheese ruined? From Sara

A. This sounds like a bacteria called Pseudomonas Fluorescens, which is a water contaminant, and produces a fluorescent yellow colour action when it grows. It is a spoilage organism and will rot the cheese. If on the ends, then you can trim that off and retreat to get a good rind. The growth of P. Fluorescens indicates the humidity of the ends of the cheese has been too high, storage on a rack, rather than a solid shelf will help, as will turning more frequently.


Q. I would like to know how cheese was made in the olden days. I live in South Africa and my children need to do a project on cheese making in the 17th Century. I can't seem to find any recipes. Thank you. From Mirma

A. As far as we know, cheese making on farm in the Tudor - Victorian era, followed the same pattern. Evening milk was put into low pans and left to settle overnight. Because the milk was warm from the cow, the fat rose quickly to the surface, and the milk also started to go sour, as the bacteria in the milk grew. The next day, if required, the fat was skimmed from the surface of the pans and could be made into butter, or kept for cream or cream cheese. The remaining milk, now containing abour 2% fat, was mixed with the mornings milk and rennet added. When the milk had clotted, the curds were broken up, placed in a cloth and hung to drain for a while, before being further broken, salted and placed in a mould and pressed. The cheese surface was rubbed with butter or lard when the cheese came out of the press and the cheese stored, being regularly turned, until eaten. There are some handwritten recipes existing from the 17th century Britain, generally these are found in historical records offices.


Q. I have purchased a variety of cultures, rennet etc from your company and have been making cheeses successfully for the last few weeks. However I am experiencing a problem when making Haloumi, the first batch I made was a bit too fragile, the second batch delicious. Since then I have attempted twice with the same problem - the rennet is not setting the milk at the initial stage. I have double checked that the milk is full cream and nonhomogenised. Could the rennet have lost its oomph??? From Mandy

A. It is most unlikely to be a problem with the rennet. I've had a number of similar enquires this year, and it appears to be a milk issue. Milk proteins are very variable, and this season appears to be more than usually fragile in some cases. I suggest you try buying skimmed milk and double cream, instead of whole milk. Combine them at the ratio of 12 parts skim to 1 part double cream. I'm using this myself at the moment, and with a supermarket supply; its going OK.


Q. What should I purchase to put a "rind" on the cheese to store it safely. In supermarkets some cheeses have a grey hard coating. I do have wax but would like to try a different method. From Bert

A. Most traditional cheeses in supermarkets have been bandaged throughout their lives. Moulds will grow on the bandage, and when the bandage is removed, the colour of the mould can be left behind. This is not always grey, so you may be referring to a specific cheese, in which case more info is required. To make a rind on a hard cheese requires good pressing, a smooth unbroken coat to the cheese, storage at the right temperature and humidity, with regular attention to turning, mite control etc, which is outside the scope for most home cheese makers. I would recomend waxing instead.


Q. Just before Christmas I made a 'Traditional Cheddar' following the Ricki Carroll book I got from you when ordering my first cheese makig kit. Rather than waxing the cheese I have vacuum packed them which has proved to work quite well. However on the cheddar I can now see small areas of green mould appearing. Is this normal or do I need to take action now before it sets in? From Patrick

A.Vacuum packing initially removes all oxygen from the pack, and mould is not able to grow without oxygen. Depending on the quality of the vacuum bag, and seal, oxygen may make its way back into the pack, when mould will grow. The best thing to do is open the pack, remove, by curtting away, mould, and revacuuming.


Q. I have recently made a cheese which developed a 'slimy defect' on its surface after brining. I have been able to find out about the need of CaCl in the brine to prevent this, but is my cheese spoiled or can it be salvaged It has since dry up, but remains somewhat tacky on the surface.According to the recipe it would have to waxed soon. From Thomas

A. Slimy cheese out of brine is usually caused by the pH of the cheese being different to the pH of the brine. When making up brine initially, the pH should be lowered to around pH5.0. The cheese will dry out if kept in a slightly lower humidity environment, otherwise it could remain slimy.


Q. Can I make every type of cheese with my kids kit? From Robert

A. No sorry Robert. The Kids Kit is a very good cheese kit for children to start with as other cheeses can be quite difficult. You will be able to make curd cheeses using any kind of milk. The nice thing about curd cheese is that you can add anything you like to the curds to make it tast really good. Put the 3 free starters that came with your kids kit in the freezer and when you feel ready, have a go at making a Creme frache/Mascarpone, Mozzarella or Yogurt.


Q. Could you tell me how I could add beer to cheese preferably cheddar. I own a small brewery in West Wales so we make bitters, lagers, stouts and cider and I want to try my hand at cheese but I want something I could sell in the future. Thanks. From Marcus

A. There are two ways in which beer can be combined with cheese. 1. Using mature cheese, like cheddar, break up the cheese into small pecies, and add beer (and often pickle, or pickled onions) reform and repress the cheese. This is how the majority of flavoured cheeses are made. This cheese can be made to order. 2. Rind wash the cheese in beer, generally small cheeses (2kg or thereabout), washed in a beer solution, with 3% salt added, twice a week, being kept in 100% humidity, on racks, to end up with a very smelly, but tasty, cheese. This can be done with a variety of cheese types, for example, Stinking Bishop is a semi soft cheese washed in a perry made from stinking bishop pears. Caerphilly is often rind washed.


Q. Thanks for your cheese making goodies. However, I think you need to be careful, as you might get a health and safety complaint. Soon the government will be making you write " WARNING: CHEESE MAKING CAN BE VERY ADDICTIVE " on all of your products! I would like to start making some hard cheeses, and want to buy one of your presses. However, I noticed the cheese presses on your site don't seem to have a guage on them. Is this true? If not, how do you figure out how much pressure you are applying? Also, they don't come with followers. Do you suggest people make their own? From Bill

A. Our presses do come with a pressure guage on the instruction sheet that we recommend copying to a piece of card or plastic. The M3 (0070) is a hard cheese mould suitable for the small press, turning out roughly 1kg cheese. The M5 (0071) follwers are sold separately because you maybe able to improvise maki