This cheese is very like cheddar, with many of the same procedures included in the recipe. It can be eaten young or left to age for a more pronounced flavor.
(Leicester is usually colored, but this is an optional step. If you choose to color, you will need 4 drops cheese coloring diluted in 1/4 cup cool unchlorinated water.)
- In your cheese pot, heat the milk to 85°F. (A water bath method is best for this recipe.)
- Once the milk has reached temperature, add the starter by sprinkling it over the surface of the milk and allowing it to rehydrate for 1 minute before stirring it in with your cheese spoon using long, steady up-and-down strokes. Cover the milk and allow it to ripen for 45 minutes, undisturbed.
- Add the coloring by pouring it into the milk through the holes of your cheese spoon and stirring it in very well to ensure it is incorporated evenly.
- Make sure the milk is still at 85°F before adding the diluted rennet in the same manner as you added the coloring, except stir the rennet in for 1 full minute using long up-and-down strokes. Cover the milk and allow it to set for 45 minutes, undisturbed and maintained at 85°F throughout.
- Cut the curd into 1/4-inch cubes with your curd knife. Let them rest, stirring gently every now and again, for 15 minutes.
- Gradually increase the temperature of the curds and whey to 95°F over 20 minutes. Keep stirring intermittently and gently to prevent matting during the heating time. Maintain the curds and whey at 95°F for 30 minutes.
- Suspend a colander over a clean bowl or sink and pour in the hot curds. Let them drain for 20 minutes.
- Place the cooled, matted mass of curds on a cutting board and slice it into 2-inch long strips. Lay them on a draining board or mat and let them drain, covered with a clean towel wrung in warm water, for 1 hour, turning them every 20 minutes and keeping the towel warm.
- Crumble the slices into dime-size pieces. Place them in a large bowl and stir for a few minutes. Add the salt and continue to stir for one more minute. Put them into a damp cheesecloth-lined press and press at 15 pounds for 30 minutes.
- Remove the cheese from the mold, peel away the cheesecloth, flip it over, re-dress it in the cheesecloth, place it back into the mold, and press at 30 pounds for 2 hours.
- Remove, undress, flip, re-dress, and press the cheese at 50 pounds of pressure for 24 hours.
- Take the cheese out of the press and peel away the cheesecloth. Rub the cheese with a little salt and set it on the counter on a draining mat to air-dry for a few days, or until it is dry to the touch.
- You can wax the cheese once it is done air drying and age it at 55°F for 12 to 16 weeks for a young Leicester. You can age it for up to 9 months for a more pronounced flavor.
Makes a 2-pound wheel.