This post is about my first try at making a pressed cheese, a farmhouse cheddar. I learned a lot from the process, and the result was a much more accomplished second effort in this posting: Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese. It will probably be a couple of months before I try this second effort, but I opened my first try yesterday, so I can now report on how it turned out.
This first try taught me that I needed a real cheese press, and that a jury-rigged press did not work well. As shown here, I did not get an even cylinder because I did not have even pressure on the cheese. The indentations which formed provided opportunities for gaps in the cheese wax, and therefore small incursions of mold.
I waxed the cheese on April 22, and for the first month I had imperfect ripening conditions, first in the refrigerator (too cold) and then in a relatively cool spot in the basement (borderline OK, but really too warm). After about a month, I bought a small refrigerator and temperature adjuster, to create a real cheese cave at ~55 degrees, and so this cheese spent about a month in proper ripening conditions. This is really the minimum and I am sure the next cheese with a longer ripening will be better.
Here is what the cheese looked like when cut open.
It has a mild cheddar aroma with a flavor that was a bit like feta. It was a bit soft and crumbly, the result of the imperfect pressing. Saltiness was fine. Flavor was pleasant, just mild. All in all success since I made an edible cheese on my first try. I hope that the next cheese, with a proper cheese press, better wax coating, longer aging at the right temperature, etc., will be markedly better.