This past year I delved deeper into the fascinating world of cheesemaking. You could say it all started with the Instant Pot and the Yogurt Setting.
I was a convert once I discovered that a delicious, tangy yogurt could be had by merely filling the Instant Pot liner with milk plus a little leftover yogurt and pressing the Yogurt Setting. Even better, I could split the yield and have yogurt plus a batch of thick rich labneh.
Cheesemaking is an addictive, ancient process. I wondered how the first person living in a cave felt when they figured out that sour milk could result in delicious cheese.
Once I mastered yogurt I wanted to know more, too. I tinkered with fresh cheeses like paneer, ricotta, feta, mozzarella, cheese curds, queso blanco and queso fresco. Each was its own rewarding surprise.
Along the way I gathered up essential tools and supplies—many of which I already had, like sieves, strainers and cheesecloth. For cultures, molds and other products, New England Cheese Making Supply Co became a helpful and reliable site. They focus on education with plenty of helpful resources, recipes, and tutorials for those who are just getting started.
My latest big step was obtaining a cheese press. It opened the door to more complex cheeses requiring a variety of processes and aging stages. My next candidate along the cheesemaking spectrum would be Caerphilly, a starter cheese from Wales known for its forgiving character and shorter aging period.
Caerphilly is a simplified cheddar style cheese that presses at 20 pounds for 16 hours and needs only 4 to 5 weeks of aging (some cheeses age for years!). I halved a larger recipe from a Gavin Webber video, who maintains a popular You Tube channel.
The recipe came together without incident and the new cheese press made it look like I knew what I was doing! After 3 days of drying time, it went into its ripening box to age. The Caerphilly was ready to sample in 25 days. As I cut into its pale gold rind, I was surprised to see the interior became paler and creamier toward the center and displayed its characteristic holes. The rind had a slight nuttiness; the interior was not too salty with a firm texture and mild cheddar flavor.
Caerphilly is such an agreeable cheese, it goes with just about anything. On a cheeseboard, it is the star along with a Cambozola Triple Cream blue cheese and aged Gouda. To round out the display I tucked in sliced salami, imported olives, almonds and crackers—and rounded it out with holiday favorites, Moroccan fruitcake and cranberry sauce.