I have been hand milking cows for over three years now. I make a soft creamy feta that is as good as any I can buy. I've made brie that is better than any I have ever bought. I've also thrown away some soft cheese, but really, only the successes matter, right? But if you want be to be a real cheese head, not one of those people that just mess around with soft cheese and yoghurt, if you want to do some hard cheese, you need a cheese press
I have a very clever mate who works in steel who has helped me out with a few things round the farm over the years. Miiiitch ( you have to say his name like a hotted up hatch accelerating hard, then changing gears ) and I worked up a design ages ago, with two different size barrels, a 20kg spring and a draining board, it was to the deluxe of home cheese presses. Miiiitch had worked out all the little problems and with Dolores giving a good 7L+ every day I was keen to give it a try.
In some ways the making of hard cheese is easier than soft cheese. You can be a bit more vigorous with it as a smaller curd size is desirable. However there is all the turning, wiping and waiting. Oh yes the waiting. Even the smallest wait is two to three months.
The first cheese I tried is one I'm hoping will be our staple hard cheese. Similar to a supermarket cheese it will be only aged a few months and be good for toasted sandwiches, grated cheese and snacks for The Boy. We go through a bit of cheddar, or what the supermarkets call cheddar at Lantanaland so it will be a good thing to supply our own. The next cheese is one that I use bucket loads of. Parmesan. We eat a risotto once a week here and I'm always using it. So laying down a few kilos of that seems like a smart thing to do. Tomorrow I am going to try a firm blue that is aged for just a month. I love blue cheese and a month is an acceptable time to wait to see how badly I stuffed up or lucked out. That's the beautiful thing about cheese, even a rank amateur like me can sometimes pull out a magic cheese.
You can't have a good cheese without a cool fromage label and I thought to honor Miiitch I'd design a label around him. Miiiitch loves the summer dance festivals so he can get his shirt off, sunnies on and show off his wicked abs. So I decided to name all Lantanaland's hard cheeses the Shirts Off Cheese, with the label to match. Hope you like it mate.