Cheese Makers Forum FAQ Equipment part 1 Equipment part 2 History

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thoughts about pressing

So I've been monitoring the latest loaf in the press tonight, and I thought I would share some observations that were not obvious to me when I started this process. Many will be old hat to many readers, but in my newb-ness I was naive. Here is a quick brain dump of what I've learned in the past month regarding pressing.

  1. Pressing will not improve a bad cheese. The biggest problem I've had when starting out was corky or (as my wife has called it) smegy cheese. I've learned this can usually be detected by simply tasting the curd before you press it. Just mill it, salt it, wait a half an hour, then taste it. If it is squeaky, rubbery, yet creamy tasting then you are good. If it tastes or feels like cork, it will likely be a dud.
  2. Pressing without cheesecloth is sorta okay. I usually press without cheesecloth, but there is one big risk you take--the curd squeezing out of the mold. This usually happens at the bottom of the mold, so if you choose to go clothless, keep an eye on the bottom of the mold. Or for safety just use a small bit of cloth on the bottom, that usually prevents curd leakage.
  3. If your cheese is squeezing through the molds sides, then your recipe or milk is effed. I have had this happen *a lot of time*, and all of them are my fault. With that being said, I now know that using homogenized whole milk is 'my fault'. Don't use whole unless you know specifically what you are doing, there are reasons to use it, but there are more reasons not to.
  4. Press with weights that are wide, not tall. You *will* futz with your weights. You will probably futz with your weights several times for every loaf. Wide weights, like free weights you buy for exercising are easier to deal with than old jugs filled with water. Water filled jugs are a false economy, they really, really suck.
  5. Even now I don't know how to make a smooth interior. While I've only made maybe thirty loaves in my life, I don't know how to prevent eyes or whey chambers. While they are usually small, similar to the size of the holes in havarti, I don't know how to control them one way or another. This frustrates me.


  1. You have a wonderful site! I love that your sharing your experiences good and bad. I'm a huge cheese fan but got stuck with a son allergic to dairy but some day I'd love to give cheesemaking a try.

  2. Thanks Maggie for the kind word, I really appreciate them :)

    When I was younger I was also allergic to dairy, it gave me eczema like no-ones business. I managed to grow out of it though, and now it's just the calorie count that is the real killer.

    BTW, if it is lactose intolerance then there are cheeses that are less harmful than others. Goat cheeses are usually bad, generally because they are eaten sooner than other cheese and contain more lactose. Some very long aged cheese, like Parmesan, in some cases contain no lactose what so ever. With that being said, I'm not a doctor and I'm not advocating anything, just pointing out observations.



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