Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Waxing Cheese

by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin

As I make many different cheeses, and post video tutorials about how to make them, I thought that in this post that I would show everyone how to wax a cheese.

The cheese wax is a special formulation and is not the same as paraffin or candle wax.  That type of wax is too brittle to be used to coat cheese, as the cheese needs a solid yet flexible covering to keep the air and bacteria out of it and to keep the remaining moisture locked in to help with the maturation process.  I received a kilogram of red cheese wax with my kit and it is about AUD$15 per kilo.  It lasts for quite a while, because you can reuse the wax again after you have eaten your cheese.  I have even used some wax that Ben 10 collected off of his baby bell cheeses!  He was very happy to contribute.

So firstly, I set up a double boiler a small pan with about 5 cm of water.

Cheese Wax 001

On top of the pan use a stainless steel or glass container that you can reuse specifically for cheese making.  Once you melt the wax in the container, it is very difficult to get it back out again.  Once the water has boiled, keep it at a simmer.  This temperature will be sufficient to melt all of the wax.

Cheese Wax 002

Don’t try and put the entire block of wax in like this because you will be there for a month of Sundays!

Cheese Wax 004
Cut the block up into smaller pieces and it will melt much quicker.

Cheese Wax 005

After about 15 minutes, this is what you end up with.  A nice smooth consistency, just ready to dip the wheel into.

Cheese Wax 007

So here is the cheese before, nice a dry with no visible liquid.  I turned it about three times a day so that the remaining whey would drain out evenly.

Cheese Wax 003

Now the tricky part, and unfortunately no photos, because I had my own safety to consider and the wax was very hot!

Firstly, place the wheel in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool it down.  This way the cheese wax cools very quickly on contact and it is an easier way to finish the job without too much fuss.

Grab the wheel firmly and dip it into the wax so that it is half coated.  Without dropping it, let it dry for about 1 minute, rotate 180 degrees, then holding by the waxed side, dip it again.  Hold for another minute and allow to dry.  You will find a very thin layer of wax over the entire wheel.  Repeat the process about 3 to 4 more times, ensuring that you don’t hold it in the wax too long, as you don’t want the cheese to melt.  Check for an even coating, and if you are satisfied that it is dry enough, rest the wheel on some baking paper and place in the normal fridge to harden and mature.  This is what it should look like.

Cheese Wax 006

It has no holes in the wax, and is about 3mm thick all over.  After about 20 minutes place it back in the cheese fridge for the designated maturation period.

Here is the finished cheese after the maturation time of 3 months.  This is a Wensleydale with sage. 

It was absolutely one of the best cheeses I have ever made and tasted.  There is nothing quite like home made cheese.  If you would like to learn how to make Wensleydale, have a look at this post on my blog titled "Wensleydale Cheese Making Tutorial"