In making good cheese, skim milk is never used. The milk should either be warm from the cow or heated to that temperature over the fire. When the rennet is put in, the heat of the milk should be from 90 to 96 degrees. Three quarts of milk will yield, on an average, about a pound of cheese. In infusing the rennet, allow a quart of lukewarm water, and a table-spoonful of salt to a piece about half the size of your hand. The rennet must soak all night in the water before it can be fit for use. In the morning (after taking as much of it as you want) put the rennet water into a bottle and cork it tightly. It will keep the better for adding to it a wine glass of brandy. If too large a proportion of rennet is mixed with the milk, the cheese will be tough and leathery.
To make a very good cheese, take three buckets of milk warm from the cow, and strain it immediately into a large tub or kettle. Stir into it half a tea-cupful of infusion of rennet or rennet-water; and having covered it, set it in a warm place for about half an hour, or till it becomes a firm curd. Cut the curd into squares with a large knife, or rather with a wooden slitting-dish, and let it stand about fifteen minutes. Then break it up fine with your hands, and let it stand a quarter of an hour longer. Then pour off from the top as much of the whey as you can; tie up the curd in a linen cloth or bag, and hang it up to drain out the remainder of the whey; setting a pan under it to catch the droppings. After all the whey is drained out, put the curd into the cheese-tray, and cut it again into slices; chop it coarse; put a cloth about it; place it in the cheese-hoop or mould, and set it in the screw press for half an hour, pressing it hard. [Footnote: If you are making cheese on a small scale, and have not a regular press, put the curd (after you have wrapped it in a cloth) into a small circular wooden box or tub with numerous holes bored in the bottom; and with a lid that fits the inside exactly. Lay heavy weights on the lid in such a manner as to press evenly all over.] Then take it out; chop the curd very fine; add salt to your taste; and put it again into the cheese-hoop with a cloth about it, and press it again. You must always wet the cloth all over to prevent its sticking to the cheese, and tearing the surface. Let it remain in the press till next morning, when you must take it out and turn it; then wrap it in a clean wet cloth, and replace it in the press, where it must remain all day. On the following morning again take out the cheese; turn it, renew the cloth, and put it again into the press. Three days pressing will be sufficient.
When you finally take it out of the press, grease the cheese all over with lard, and put it on a clean shelf in a dry dark room, or in a wire safe. Wipe, grease, and turn it carefully every day. If you omit this a single day the cheese will spoil. Keep the shelf perfectly clean, and see that the cheese does not stick to it. When the cheese becomes firm, you may omit the greasing; but continue to rub it all over every day with a clean dry cloth. Continue this for five or sis weeks; the cheese will then be fit to eat.
The best time for making cheese is when the pasture is in perfection.
You may enrich the colour of the cheese by a little anatto or arnotta; of which procure a small quantity from the druggist, powder it, tie it in a muslin rag, and hold it in the warm milk, (after it is strained,) pressing out the colouring matter with your fingers, as laundresses press their indigo or blue rag in the tub of water. Anatto is perfectly harmless.
After they begin to dry, (or ripen, as it is called,) it is the custom in some dairy-farms, to place the cheeses in the haystack, and keep them there among the hay for five or six weeks. This is said greatly to improve their consistence and flavour. Cheeses are sometimes ripened by putting them every day in fresh grass.