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In this Article: What is a Cheese Press Used For? | Supplies You Will Need for a Simple Cheese Press | How to Put a Simple Cheese Press Together | How to Figure Out Weights for a Homemade Cheese Press | What Kind of Cheese Press Do You Need?
Venturing into the world of pressed cheeses is an exciting and new adventure! Once you’ve mastered the simpler cheeses, pressed cheeses, like cheddar, can be next on your list of cheeses to make.
If you’re going to be making a lot of cheese in the future, then purchasing a cheese press might be a good investment. It will allow you to easily press cheeses for years to come. But cheese presses can be very expensive. If you’re only making one cheese, and not sure whether you want to make the investment, you can try pressing cheeses without having to shell out a lot of money. Making your own cheese press with materials you already have on hand is a good way to become acquainted with cheese pressing.
What is a Cheese Press Used For?
The basic concept of the cheese press is a piece of equipment made to apply pressure and weight to cheese curds in order to force the cheese to exude liquid whey. As the whey is forced from the cheese, the curds come together to form a solid cheese that can then be aged and stored for some time.
There are many ways of doing this, starting with the elaborate and moving onto the very simple. The more elaborate varieties of homemade cheese presses involve springs and sheets of metal, specific lumber, and nails and screws. These types of cheese presses mimic many of the cheese presses available commercially.
The type of cheese press presented here is the very simple cheese press that you can make at home, with materials you might already have in your kitchen. You can use it for lightly pressed cheeses that do not require extreme weights.
Supplies You Will Need for a Simple Cheese Press
How to Put a Simple Cheese Press Together
How to Figure Out Weights for a Homemade Cheese Press
Cheese pressing weights are figured in pounds of pressure, not direct weight. So if you have a block of cheese that is 5 by 5 inches (25 square inches), and you put a 10-pound weight on it, each square inch will be getting 1/25 of the 10 pounds. However, if your cheese block is 3 by 3 inches (9 square inches), you’d get 1/9 of the 10-pound weight pressing on each square inch of cheese, so there would be more pressure.
To figure out how much weight to put on your cheese, first measure the block of cheese you’ll be pressing. If it is a square or rectangular block, just multiply the length times the width. That gives you the number of square inches. Then multiply the pressing weight (as indicated by the recipe) by the number of square inches of the cheese to get the amount of weight you will need to put on the press.
For instance: Say you are using a mold that is 3 inches by 4 inches. That is 12 square inches. If your recipe calls for 5 pounds of pressure, you multiply 12 by 5 to determine that 60 pounds of weight needs to be piled onto the press.
For circular molds, you can get an approximate number of square inches by using the formula for the area of a circle: ∏r² (that is, pi times the radius squared). Too complicated? Just take 1/2 the diameter of the circle, multiply it times itself, then multiply that by 3. So a 4-inch round would give you 2x2x3, or 12 square inches. For 5 pounds of pressure, you would need 60 pounds of weight.
Obviously a makeshift press is really only adequate for low-pressure situations. If you get much over 10 pounds of pressure, you will need some substantially heavy weights, which will be hard to accumulate, and hard to pile onto the press without risking damage to the press or your countertop.
What Kind of Cheese Press Do You Need?
This cheese press isn’t nearly as fancy as the ones you can spend the big bucks on, but it will get you started and introduce you to the world of pressed cheeses. You might find that it works perfectly well for your needs, and prevents you from spending money on something you don’t really need.
If you want to move on to harder cheeses (and thus greater weights), you might like to try your hand at building a spring-loaded press. You can find many tutorials for making them on the internet or at your public library.
And of course, for a reliable and professional type press, you can purchase one ready-made. While they are somewhat pricey, if you are going to making a lot of cheese and different varieties, you may find that the investment is worth it.
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