|Title||The Manufacture of Cheese, Advice|
|Type||Primary Sources: Advice|
New England’s poor soil often made grazing dairy cattle the most profitable way for a farmer to use his land. In an age before refrigeration and cheap transportation, most milk was preserved by turning it into butter and cheese. Much of this was then sold. Farmers in the 1800s increasingly turned to informational periodicals like The New England Farmer, and Horticultural Journal for advice to increase their efficiency.
From The New England Farmer, and Horticultural Journal, July 13, 1831
MANUFACTURE OF CHEESE.
Mr. Editor—If you think the following answers to the questions in the New England Farmer, vol. ix p. 313, are worth publishing, they are at your disposal; they are compiled from various publications and the unwritten opinions of those experienced in the manufacture of Cheese. There are, no doubt, some errors, and the compiler would be highly pleased to have them pointed out for the good of the public.
Windham, Con[n]. July 1831
1. What effect has it on milk, in hot weather, if it is much agitated and heated in the udder, by the cow’s being driven a long distance, or running about?
It greatly injures the milk; it is very difficult to make it into cheese, and instead of one hour (the time very commonly given by dairy-women in bringing the cheese) it will frequently not come in 3, 4, or 5 hours, and then in the imperfect state; and when the cheese is released from the press it will heave or puff up.
2. Which is the best method to keep milk sweet* over night in warm weather?
Set the milk in small brass, or tin vessels, and put one table spoonful of fine salt to each gallon, and pour in some cold water according to the heat of the weather; let the milk stand where there is a free circulation of air. In the morning take off the cream and mix it thoroughly with the warm morning’s milk.
3. Which is the best method to preserve rennet skins*?
Let the calf suck about 11 hours before it is killed. Take out the maw-skin*, and let it lie three hours in a cool place, then empty the maw, (let no water touch it,) and rub it well with salt on each side, and afterwards cover it with salt, and put it in a bowl; turn and rub it every day for about three days, then open it to dry, being stretched out on a stick, that it may dry regularly.
It is of great importance that the maw skin be well prepared; good cheese cannot be made with bad rennet. It is reckoned best to be one year old before used; it will fetch more cheese, and it is said the cheese will be milder. To prepare the rennet, make 2 quarts of brine that will swim an egg; when the heat is gone off to about blood warm, put in one maw-skin cut in pieces, let it steep two days (48 hours) then strain and bottle it.
4. What quantity of new cheese will one rennet skin produce?
The average about 250 lbs. (some produce 600 lbs.)
5. How many quarts of milk (milk measure) will produce curd* for a cheese which will weigh 15 lbs. from the press?
Fortyfive to 60 quarts, according to the richness of the milk.
6. What will a cheese which weighs 15 lbs. from the press shrink the first five months after it is made?
Near three pounds. (A cheese which weighs 24 lbs. green*, will shrink 4 lbs. in 5 months.)
7. What degree of the thermometer should be the heat of the milk when the rennet is put in?
From 80 to 90, according to the heat of the weather, and the quantity of milk. (The smaller the quantity of milk, and the cooler the weather, the hotter should be the milk.)
8. What is the effect if the milk is too hot when the rennet is put to it?
The cheese will partake of the elastic or springing quality of a sponge. It leaves it in a very tough state. It inclines the cheese to heave and be strong. The whey* will look green and then white; it spoils the cheese.
9. What is the effect if the milk is too cold, when the rennet is put to it?
It will hardly come at all, and it is not easy to separate the whey, and is in danger in warm weather of souring. The cheese is apt to cut chisselly and break and fly before the knife.
10. How long time should be allowed after the rennet is put to the milk to cause it to turn to curd fit for the cheese knife*?
One hour in warm sultry southwesterly weather, and not less than one and a half hour in clear northwest weather.
[Cheese will come in warm weather quicker than in cool, with the same quantity of rennet, as it does not cool so quick. When the whey looks blue, the curd is fully formed and the whey may be carefully separated.]
11. What is the effect if the curd is stirred, or broken too soon?
The rennet will not take full effect. It will cause slip curd*, which will never make good cheese. The cheese will be unsettled and ill flavored. The whey will be rich, and the cheese poor.
12. What is the effect if too much rennet is put to the milk?
The cheese will be rank, or very strong, and is liable to heave and spread.
13. What is the effect if too little rennet is put to the milk?
It works too slow, and is liable to become sour in warm weather.
14. What kind of salt is best for cheese?
The very best of Blown Liverpool salt.
Some prefer the best of Rock or Turks Island salt, washed and ground.
15. What quantity of salt should be put to the curd which will make a cheese weighing 15 lbs. from the press?
About six ounces. (If a cheese of 15 lbs. is salted when turned in the press, and afterward put in a brine 15 hours, 1 oz. of salt to the curd will be sufficient.)
16. What is the effect if too much salt is put to the curd?
The cheese will be hard, dry, poor, and warty.
17. What is the effect if too little salt is put to the curd, or it is not well cured in brine?
The cheese will taste strong, be liable to heave, spread and will not cure well.
18. What is the effect if cheese is not sufficiently pressed?
The cheese will crack, leak, mould and rot.
(Press the cheese gently at first, and advance gradually to the utmost power of the press. If cheese is not scalded* right, and well mixed, we cannot by pressing make it firm. If cheese is pressed too much it is apt to be hard and poor.)
19. Why does American cheese dry sooner than English when it is cut open?
Whether it is because they mix a little saltpetre* with the salt, or cure them in brine, without putting much salt to the curd, or it is caused by adding suet to the curd, I have no means of knowing.
20. Can as good cheese be made upon a farm on the seaboard as in the interior? ...
No doubt, if the manufacturer has as much experience and skill. (Those living near large towns where fresh butter bears a high price, are strongly tempted to skim the milk before it is made into cheese.)
GENERAL REMARKS ON CHEESE MAKING.
It is recommended to have the milk in the tub measured with a guaging [gauging] rod*, the salt weighed, the rennet measured, and the temperature of the milk when the rennet is added, determined by a thermometer; if there was less guessing about making cheese, there would be less poor cheese made.
Skimmed cheeses do not require so much scalding as new milk.
If curd for cheese is not well scalded the cheeses will look warty, spread and leak; scald the curd more than is generally practised, and then cool it in cold water, the whey will work out more readily. If cheese is put into the press warm, it is apt to puff up, and be strong.
Sour curd will not make good cheese, and sour milk should be given to the swine, cheese made of it would be hard, crack, leak, and be wrinkle coated.
Scalded milk makes rich cheese.
The practice of coloring cheese and butter, we think, should be discouraged; who would thank a milk man to color his milk?
As to cheese hoops for a middling size cheese, let the height be about two thirds of the diameter; for small cheese, let the height be about half the diameter.
Be careful that the room, where rich new cheese is kept in hot weather, be not too warm.
The whey may be let off when the curd is sufficiently formed by a plug at the bottom of the tub; placing something over the hole to keep the curd from stopping it.
Glossary*cheese knife - a flat-bladed wooden knife used to cut the curd
*curd - thickened part of milk which is formed into cheese
*green - not fully processed
*guaging [gauging] rod - rod with a gauge or scale used to measure the contents of vessels
*maw, maw-skins - The lining membrane of a calf’s stomach. Rennet is an enzyme that is found in the stomach of an unweaned calf and is necessary to curdle or thicken the milk into curd for cheese.
*rennet skins - The lining membrane of a calf’s stomach. Rennet is an enzyme that is found in the stomach of an unweaned calf and is necessary to curdle or thicken the milk into curd for cheese.
*saltpetre, saltpeter - potassium nitrate; a chemical used to preserve foods
*scalded - to heat to a temperature just below the boiling point
*slip curd - incompletely curdled milk
*sweet - not sour, fresh
*whey - the watery part of milk that is separated from the thickened part or curd in the process of making cheese
SourceThe New England Farmer, and Horticultural Journal, July 13, 1831, Vol. 9, No. 52, 409. [A weekly newspaper published in Boston.]