House Jack

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estricklin

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I love this cheese because even after only aging for a couple of weeks, it has quite a bit of flavor. The process for making it, is basic cheesemaking techniques. You can adjust the pressing times to get a softer or harder cheese. I think next time I make it, I'll smoke some jalapenos, dice and add them to the curds before pressing.

I tried rennet tablets for the first time, so far so good.
rennet.jpg

After testing the curds, I cut and stir. During the stirring, I usually listen to an audio book, as 40 minutes of it can be kind of boring. I have an ancient candy thermometer, it's prefect for monitoring the temps vs. probing it from time to time.
testing.jpg cutting.jpg stir.jpg

Next I drain the curds, and mix in some salt. The curds go into a press with 8lbs of weight, for 6-8 hours.
curds.jpg pressing.jpg

After the pressing, the cheese needs to be rubbed with salt, and dried at room temp for 18-36 hours. I cover it with a bowl starting out to keep any pests away, and later
I will cover it with cheesecloth.

drying.jpg bowl.jpg


After drying I will place it into a ripening box for 2 weeks. Next I'll cut the wheel in half, and eat one half, while the other half ages for another 4 weeks or so.

Edit:

Here is the full recipe for anyone interested. It's very close to the Jack recipe in "Artisan Cheesemaking at Home".

1. I heated the milk up to 86F over the course of about 15-20 minutes.

2. Sprinkled enough starter culture, in this case MA4001, to inoculate 2 gallons of milk per the instructions. For the brand I have, that was about 1/8th tsp. I then let the starter rehydrate for a few minutes before stirring it in.

3. I let the milk ripen for 1 hour.

4. I added about 60 drops of annatto. Jack cheese is not usually yellow, but I wanted to mix it up. I added 1/2 tsp of calcium chloride, mixed into 1/4 cup of water. I added 1/2 crushed rennet tablet, to 1/4 cup of water. I added the rennet mixture to the milk, and stirred for 30-60 seconds.

5. I came back 45 mins later, and the curd was set pretty well, and I made sure it gave a nice clean break.

6. I cut the curds into 3/4 pieces, then let them heal for 5-10 minutes.

7. Over the course of 40 minutes, I stirred gently, and constantly, while raising the heat slowly from 86F to 102F. Next I left the curds to settle for 30 minutes. I then ladled off the excess whey.

8. I then stirred the curds for an additional 20 minutes.

9. Next I poured the curds and whey mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth. I left them to drain for about 5-7 minutes. I added 1 tbsp of salt, and tossed the curds to mix. I then rolled the cheesecloth up and rolled the ball of curds around in the colander for a minute.

10. I put the cheesecloth with the curds in it, into a cheese mold, and pressed at 8 lbs for about 7 hours. After removing the cheese, I rubbed the cheese with 1 tbsp of salt. I left the cheese to air dry, flipping once every 12 hours.
 
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Miraculix

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So no added cultures? I have no idea but I always thought cheese includes special microorganisms?
 

Miraculix

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Sorry I left out a lot of the details, but yes I did use a commercial culture. I used MA4001.
Are there a lot of gaps to fill in? looks like a perfekt first cheese recipe as it is quick and simple. If it does not take too much time, would you mind filling in the missing parts?
 
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@estricklin , looks like your curds were very dry and didn't knit together in the mold. I'd be concerned that those crevices will grow mold that you won't be able to control.

You might consider sealing the outside by smearing the surface with a salt brine, then use a butter knife or similar to smooth the outside of the cheese. Might be too late for that if you've dried/salted the outside.
 
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estricklin

estricklin

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Also, note that smoked jalapenos are called chipotles. I bet you knew that, just wanted to show off my pepper smarts :)
Yeah I did, I was just trying to denote I was going to smoke the peppers myself vs. that store bought canned crap. I still catch myself saying smoked jalapenos though haha.

I'm wondering more about the way the outside of the cheese looks. I'm sure a little damage could have occurred when I removed the cheesecloth but I think you may be right about the curds being too dry. Maybe I stirred too much, or let them drain too long?
 
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Yeah I did, I was just trying to denote I was going to smoke the peppers myself vs. that store bought canned crap. I still catch myself saying smoked jalapenos though haha.

I'm wondering more about the way the outside of the cheese looks. I'm sure a little damage could have occurred when I removed the cheesecloth but I think you may be right about the curds being too dry. Maybe I stirred too much, or let them drain too long?

I think there's a bunch of things that effect the moisture left in the curds. I'd also like to point out that I'm a hobbyist like you, with my own set of failures, so it's a bit of a crapshoot for me.
  • Temperature
  • Cut size
  • Various timings (more on that below)
  • Stirring
If you want softer cheese, wait much longer* before you cut the curds. Then, cut LARGE curds. After adding rennet, the curds will continue to get stronger and stronger. Strong curds will hold more water, can be cut in larger shapes, and will result in soft cheeses.
___________________________________

*The following method will help you determine the exact correct time to cut. This method works even if your rennet is weak, and also with different types of milk.
  1. Start a timer when you add the rennet.
  2. When the curds set (test with knife), that is your "clean break" time (CB).
  3. Get your Flocculation Factor (FF) from the table below. As you can see, hard cheeses have a small number, soft cheeses have a larger number.
  4. Total time between adding rennet and cutting curds = CB*FF.
So, for example, let's say you're making Jack, and let's say that after 15 minutes you get a clean break. Then the total curd time is CB*FF -> 15*3.5 -> 52 minutes. So, 52 minutes after rennet was added, you'd be cutting the curds.

1660048233348.png
 
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estricklin

estricklin

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I think there's a bunch of things that effect the moisture left in the curds. I'd also like to point out that I'm a hobbyist like you, with my own set of failures, so it's a bit of a crapshoot for me.
  • Temperature
  • Cut size
  • Various timings (more on that below)
  • Stirring
If you want softer cheese, wait much longer* before you cut the curds. Then, cut LARGE curds. After adding rennet, the curds will continue to get stronger and stronger. Strong curds will hold more water, can be cut in larger shapes, and will result in soft cheeses.
___________________________________

*The following method will help you determine the exact correct time to cut. This method works even if your rennet is weak, and also with different types of milk.
  1. Start a timer when you add the rennet.
  2. When the curds set (test with knife), that is your "clean break" time (CB).
  3. Get your Flocculation Factor (FF) from the table below. As you can see, hard cheeses have a small number, soft cheeses have a larger number.
  4. Total time between adding rennet and cutting curds = CB*FF.
So, for example, let's say you're making Jack, and let's say that after 15 minutes you get a clean break. Then the total curd time is CB*FF -> 15*3.5 -> 52 minutes. So, 52 minutes after rennet was added, you'd be cutting the curds.

View attachment 777270

Thanks for the info, I will take this into account on my next batch. I will check my thermometer for accuracy, but I definitely followed the heating instructions very carefully, I've suffered the mistakes of rubbery cheese early on in my cheesemaking career. Curd size could be an issue, but I'm leaning toward set time and/or stirring. I think next time, I will cut the curds slightly larger, and let the rennet work an extra 10 minutes. Also my bacteria culture is a few years old at this point, I used a little extra, but I'm wondering if I shouldn't have doubled it even.

I'm pretty sure, Jack is supposed to be fairly dry and crumbly, though I never see it sold in the artisan cheese sections here so I have no clue what a good commercial example is like.
 
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estricklin

estricklin

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Today I made the Chipotle Jack. I used 2 medium sized peppers that I smoked with apple and hickory. It's in the press right now. Basically the only thing I changed was I stirred the curds less, and more gently. They seem to be coming together better, but I'll know more when I take the cheese out of the press.
 

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estricklin

estricklin

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Here is the cheese. I feel pretty good about the curds coming together this time, but unfortunately I had the cheesecloth wadded up in one spot, even after I took care for that not to happen. There’s a hollow spot, about the size of a marble. I trimmed the lip off that was left by the press plate, to prevent mold. It’s salted and air drying now.
 

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Here is the cheese. I feel pretty good about the curds coming together this time, but unfortunately I had the cheesecloth wadded up in one spot, even after I took care for that not to happen. There’s a hollow spot, about the size of a marble. I trimmed the lip off that was left by the press plate, to prevent mold. It’s salted and air drying now.

Looks like the curds knit together much better than last cheese.
 
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estricklin

estricklin

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Not surprised, but a few days ago the first wheel started to mold. I had been checking it every day, so I caught it pretty early. I scraped it off, and decided to go ahead and divide it up and start consuming it.

The flavor is very good, it's a little crumbly but nothing like feta.
 

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