Thursday, October 16, 2014

Making a Cheese Press

One goal I have in 2014 that didn't make my brew years resolution post is to be more honest. That's like a life goal so I didn't put it on here sooner. It's hard to drink all of the beer I brew by myself. A good deal of it gets wasted. It's unfortunate because I've brewed some good things. I attempt to give much of it away to Kyle and Derek as well but I really need more friends so I can give it to more people.

In that spirit last year, even further back, I started posting other things on this blog about brew food, sodas, at home soft pretzels, and more. I eat food every day so it's easier to post about more often than making beer. Seeing as my blog is 100% add free, and reading it is totally voluntary I don't feel bad subjecting you to my amateur hour cooking. I'll try to keep the blog brewfood/fermentation centric.

Onto the thrust of post. (read more after the break.)

I love cheese. Somewhere behind God, Family, Friends, and Freedom is cheese. I still feel so strongly about it that I am willing to say that I love it. Cheese also pairs exceptionally well with beer. Where wine is flat and fruity beer has lively carbonation to lift the flavors of heavy cheeses off your palate and refresh you for another go around. The relative alcohol differences of wine and beer also keeps your senses sharper longer.

Making cheese at home isn't all that different from making beer from what I've read thus far. In Artisan Cheese Making at Home $12.79 on kindle the beginning talk is on the importance of sanitation. This sounds conspicuously like another hobby I have. The equipment is even similar food safe buckets, strainers, large spoons. If you were militant in cleaning you could probably even have some overlap. A metal mash spoon could work for both as it's non reactive, a sanitation bucket is a sanitation bucket, a kettle is a kettle. You use a variety of bacteria and other microbes to make cheese and this is a reason I wouldn't recommend any non metal cold side equipment for cross use. I dunno what cheese bacteria does to a beer but I have a feeling lactococcus and lactobacillus being related as lactic acid producing bacteria can give us a hint. (Side note: I'm not saying that it's guaranteed to be bad in a sour beer, but that it might be undesirable in a clean beer.)

One piece of cheese making equipment however is totally unique to cheese making and that's the Cheese Press. An investment of $279 is steep for a hobby I've not even started yet. Even if they toss in things "worth" $150+ it's still steep. It might be worth it but this contraption looks an awful lot like something I can build at home for a fraction of the price.

I am trying to replicate the press for pennies on the dollar.

Making the Press:
Step 1: Gathering materials.
This should always be step 1, having everything together is important, it prevents stalled and unfinished projects.

Shopping list for the press:
Springs (3 inch, 30lbs springs from Mcmaster Carr ~9 for a 6 pack.)
Rods (~3 each for 5/8 inch rods from ace hardware)
Hardware (~16 for a few washers, some wing nuts and some other odd/s ends)
Wood (sourced from other projects, real cheap)
Base (~10 cutting board)

Step 2: Building and Assembly

There isn't much to say about building it. I drilled 6 holes, cut some wood, and counter sunk some feet. You'll see in my picture exactly how simple this whole thing is. I used oak for the cross beams and a bamboo cutting board for the base. I am not worried about the 30 ish pounds of pressure involved breaking either of those two woods at the thicknesses involved. Total Price? ~40 dollars.

What Now?
Forthcoming will be my first posts on making cheeses. It's allegedly advised to start with soft formless cheese and move up to delicious. I'm going to probably start with an easier hard cheese because I want to use my new toy!

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