Monterey Jack is a popular semi-hard cheese that was first developed in the American west. It is mild and flavorful, and melts easily. It is traditionally made with cow milk, but goat milk will work equally well.
- 2 gallons cow or goat milk (do not use UHT/UP milk)
Mesophilic culture (choose one):
- 1 packet direct-set mesophilic culture
- 1/8 tsp. bulk mesophilic culture
- Rennet (choose one):
- 1 Tbsp. cheese salt
- Heat the milk to 90°F. Add culture, stir well until thoroughly incorporated, cover, and ferment 30-45 minutes.
- Slowly add the diluted rennet using an up-and-down motion.
- Allow the cheese to set for 45 minutes, or until the whey begins to separate from the curd. There should be a layer of mostly clear whey floating on top of the curd, and the curd should be pulling away from the sides of the pot.
- Using a curd knife, carefully cut the curds into 1/4-inch cubes and allow to set for 45 minutes. Do not stir.
- Over the next 30 minutes, slowly heat the curds to 100°F, stirring frequently. As you stir, the curds will shrink.
- Once the curds are at 100°F, maintain the temperature and continue stirring occasionally for the next 30 minutes. If the curds get too hot, remove from heat. After 30 minutes, let the curds rest for 5 minutes.
- Pour about half of the whey out, leaving enough to just cover the top of the curds. Maintain the curds at 100°F for the next 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent them sticking together.
- Pour the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Place the colander and curds into the sink, and add cheese salt. Stir carefully and drain.
- Line a cheese mold with cheesecloth. Press at 5 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes.
- Using a fresh piece of cheesecloth, flip the cheese and press at 10 pounds of pressure for 12 hours.
- Remove the cheese from the press and air-dry for 2-3 days, until smooth and dry to the touch.
- Wax the cheese and age at 55-60°F for at least 30 days. If using raw milk, age for at least 60 days. The flavor of this cheese will become stronger and sharper with longer aging.