Pressing cheese is a process that expels remaining moisture from the curd and improves the final texture, creating a firm rind on the outside of the cheese and a smooth, uniform consistency within. Pressing gives the cheese the traditional wheel shape, and readies it for aging.
The amount of pressure applied to a particular cheese depends on the type of cheese, the moisture content desired, and the size of the cheese. A cheese recipe includes instructions on an amount of pressure for a specific time, for example: Press at 10 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes.
BASIC STEPS FOR PRESSING CHEESE
The fundamental steps of cheese pressing are the same, no matter what type of press you choose.
- Line the press or mold with cheesecloth or butter muslin.
- Fill your cheese mold with curds.
- Fold the tails of the lining over the top of the curds.
- Place the follower, a piece of wood or plastic that fits down inside the mold, atop the curds to distribute the force of the press evenly over the cheese curds.
- Apply pressure according to the recipe’s instructions, for the specified time period. Use a draining tray to collect expelled whey.
- Flip the cheese and re-wrap it as many times as directed, adjusting the pressure each time.
- Release the pressure of the press and pull out the follower.
- Using the tails of the cheesecloth or butter muslin that surrounds the cheese, carefully pull the cheese out of the press. Handle it with care so as not to break the cheese’s shape.
- Peel away the cloth, flip the cheese over, and re-wrap it.
- Slide it back into the mold and fold the tails of the cloth over it as before. Replace the follower and reapply pressure as directed.
Cheese Pressing Tips
- Carefully transfer the curds to the press, to ensure the cheese is as even and uniform as possible.
- Dampening the cloth that lines the press can make it easier to handle and remain in place as the mold is being filled.
- Pull on the cheesecloth as curds are added to get rid of unnecessary bunches and folds.
- Press the cheese a bit with clean hands, to get rid of empty spaces and uneven places.
- Fold the tails of the cloth down over the top of the curds, avoiding making folds that will indent the surface of the cheese. Cut some of the cloth, if necessary, to make it more manageable.
- When removing the cheese to flip, handle with care. The cheese may still be delicate and break easily.
AFTER PRESSING THE CHEESE
Once you have finished pressing the cheese, pull it out, peel away the cloth, and place it somewhere dark and away from drafts to air-dry according to the recipe, then proceed with the next step in the recipe, such as brining, aging, or waxing hard cheese.