Gruyère is a sweet, slightly salty cheese from Switzerland. The flavor can vary as the cheese ages, becoming earthier and more complex.
Heat the milk in a cheese pot over low heat to 70°F.
- Turn off heat. Sprinkle the starter over the surface of the milk and allow it to rehydrate for 5 minutes. Stir in with whisk, using up-and-down motions, for 1 minute. Cover and maintain the temperature at 70°F for 45 minutes to allow the milk to ripen.
- Turn the heat back on and raise the temperature slowly to 86°F. After the milk has reached this temperature, add the diluted rennet by pouring it through the cheese spoon into the milk. Then stir it in for about 1 minute, using up-and-down motions. Cover the pot and let it sit, undisturbed, for 35-40 minutes, or until you have achieved a clean break.
- Maintain the temperature of the milk at 86°F. Cut the curds into pea-size pieces, stir them for 10 minutes, then let them rest for 5 minutes, covered.
- Ladle out about 1/3 of the whey in the pot, and then add 3 cups of hot (130°F) water. When the temperature in the pot reaches 92°-94°F, add 3 more cups of hot water. Stir for 5 minutes, then add 2 more cups of hot water.
- Add the salt and stir it into the curds and whey. Keep adding water that is 130°F as needed to maintain the curds and whey at a temperature of around 97°F. Constantly stir the curds until they begin to feel a bit springy in your hands when you gently squeeze them. This should take about 20 minutes.
- Ladle off enough of the whey to expose the curds.
- Using damp butter muslin, line a clean, 8-inch tomme mold and place it on a draining rack. Gently scoop the warm curds out of the pot with your hands or a cheese spoon into the lined mold. Press them into the mold gently with the back of your hand. Pull out any wrinkles in the butter muslin, and fold the tails of the cloth over the top of the curds. Place the follower on top of the covered curds, and press the cheese at 8 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes.
- Take the cheese out of the mold, peel away the butter muslin, flip the cheese over, and re-dress with the butter muslin. Place it back into the mold and press again at 8 pounds for 30 more minutes. Repeat this process for about 3 to 4 hours or until all the excess whey has been expelled. When pressing has been completed, leave your cheese in the mold without any pressure, out on your kitchen counter for about 3 more hours.
- Place the cheese in the refrigerator and leave it there over night. It is ready to eat now, as a fresh, young cheese, or you can continue to age it by brining and storing if you choose.
- To brine the cheese, make a half gallon of fully saturated brine (32 ounces of salt in 1 gallon of water) and seal it with a lid. Leave this in the refrigerator overnight as well.
- Take the cheese and the brine out of the refrigerator and place them together into a non-corrosive container with a lid. Place the covered container of brine and cheese back into the refrigerator for about 8 more hours.
- Take the cheese out of the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Place it on a rack to air-dry on the counter away from drafts and direct sunlight for about 12 hours.
- Age the cheese at about 50°-55°F and 85% humidity for 1 month or as long you wish to age it. Flip the cheese about three times a week during the aging period and remove any unwanted mold with cheesecloth soaked in brine.
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