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Friday, 26 July 2013

Upgrading my Cheesemaking Equipment!

I'm very excited at the moment, because I recently overhauled my cheesemaking equipment, and yesterday I made my first cheese with the new set!  It came out perfectly!  Scroll down for a photo of the size comparison between the new and old cheeses :)

In this post I'll tell you how I made my new equipment.

New equipment! PVC pipe, perspex and handkerchiefs.
If you've seen my last cheesemaking post, you'll know that what I was previously using for a cheese mould and press was basically a cut off milo tin and a plastic circle cut out of a container lid, with textbooks to weight everything.  I was also using fine cotton tea towels as my cheesecloths.

My old set up

Ok so I am still using the textbooks (it's a good system!), but I've recently upgraded the rest!   Here's what I used.

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Materials:
  • 6 inch PVC poly pipe - approx 8cm long
  • piece of 4mm perspex slightly bigger than the pipe

Trace the interior diameter of the pipe onto the perspex and use a jigsaw to trim the perspex so that it fits snugly but not tightly.  Make sure the edges of both the perspex and the pipe are well sanded.  Wash thoroughly before use!

***

While we were in town the other week, I bought some six inch PCV pipe and a piece of perspex, and we got a friend to trim down the pipe and perspex into a perfectly fitting cheese could for me!  He used a jigsaw to do the perspex, and sawed the pipe by hand.  Then he sanded them off for me as well.  (Sometimes its handy to have friends who work in the school manual arts department!)

Because I now have a perfectly fitting press, I've also switched to white men's handkerchiefs instead of tea towels - which means I can wrap the cheese completely and put the plunger on top instead of having it hang out the sides.

I picked the six inch pipe because it is only slightly bigger than the milo tin I was using, which was generating pretty well proportioned cheeses.  My new cheeses are slightly wider, and thus slightly flatter too since I'm not increasing the amount of milk.

New cheese on the left, old cheese on the right.

The handkerchiefs are a little more difficult to handle than the teatowels because being smaller, you don't have nearly as much room to play with (and they seem to flop over and spill a bit easier.  I've found that using some bulldog clips to clip it to the edges of the colander works really well during the initial part of the straining though, so that it doesn't flop into the whey and make a big mess. They do on the whole work quite a bit better, and I found an easy way to suspend them for straining of my ricotta, using a bent coathanger and the cupboard doors above my kitchen sink!

Straining ricotta
I'm really happy with my new cheese press set up, and hopefully this equipment will be sturdy enough to last many years!  Maybe some day I will also upgrade from textbooks to actual gym weights, but that will have to wait for another day :)