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.
- In a 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 a 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 the cheese spoon and stirring it in very well, to ensure it is incorporated evenly.
- With the milk still at 85°F, add diluted rennet, pouring it into the milk through the holes of the cheese spoon, and stirring 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 ¼-inch cubes with a curd knife. Let them rest, stirring gently every couple of minutes, 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 into 2-inch long strips. Lay them on a draining board or mat and drain, covered with a clean towel wrung in warm water, for 1 hour, turning curds 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 curds into a damp cheesecloth-lined press and press at 15 pounds for 30 minutes.
- Remove cheese from mold, peel away cheesecloth, flip cheese 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 cheese out of the press and peel away cheesecloth. Rub 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.
- If desired, wax the cheese once it is done air drying, then age it at 55°F for 12-16 weeks for a young Leicester. Age it for up to 9 months for a more pronounced flavor.
Makes a 2-pound wheel.
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