Cheese update – making cloth banded cheddar

I’ve completely forgotten to write a post about making cloth banded cheddar. Well I’ve done it, and it’s been ripening in my fridge for the better part of three months. The cloth banding has a tendency to grow mold (which is ok, even desirable to some extent) but I decided to unpack it, wash it and vacuum pack it as Gavin instructs.

Making cloth banded cheddar

Every cheese has a rind of some sort, it can be wax (think the red wax on an edam, or the usually black on a gouda), a natural – i.e. dried rind (think parmigiano reggiano) or even plastic (think almost any market cheese). The cheddar however is traditionally covered in a cheese cloth and sealed with a hard fat, such as tallow, lard or vegetable shortening. The story is, that a cloth banded cheddar can “breathe” and thus develop a stronger flavour than a totally sealed cheese.

The cloth will begin to develop natural molds, that will eventually dry out and leave a rather rustic appearance.

Making cloth banded cheddar
Dried moldy cloth banded cheddar. Image courtesy of Please visit, it’s a great site!

However, as I’m a total rookie in cheese making, I decided to play it on the safe side, and change the cloth to a vacuum pack. Apparently if the cheese itself gets soft underneath the cloth, it is infected and doesn’t taste very good. I don’t know how soft a “soft” should be, so I’m vacuum packing it.

Cheese cave environment

I’ve raised the temperature of my fridge, now that it is currently not hosting any meat. I still haven’t gotten around to creating the second zone for cheeses and another for meats. The meats require a temp close to 0°C and the cheeses around 10°C. So now my fridge is set to 11°C and the humidity is also raised all the way up to 85 %-rh and boy the molds started celebrating.

I was following the growth in a both curious and worried fashion. I was trying out the consistency of the cheese every few days, and in the end I decided to play it on the safe side.

But the new environment hopefully allows the cheeses to properly mature and develop a good taste.

making cloth banded cheddar

This is what my cheddar looked like before I started the cleaning process. Notice the gouda in the background

Cleaning the cloth banded cheddar

Making cloth banded cheddar
The cheddar on the left and my goudas on the right

So I started by removing the cloths. I had used tallow to seal the cloth and the majority of the mold was actually between the two layers of cloth. The cheese itself didn’t look nearly as gnarly as I feared. The cloths however had develop quite a spotty colouring.

making cloth banded cheddar
The moldy cloths taken from the cheddar. The lower layer is noticeably more spotty, while the top layer more homogenously moldy

I naturally kept smelling both the cheese and the cloths. I was surprised on how pleasant the smell was – it was nothing like a stale, moldy foodstuffs you usually smell, that have this earthy, dirty smell that is totally unpleasant. The cheese especially had this nice blue cheese kind of, creamy, yet distinct smell that I found quite pleasing. I can’t give you a reference as my wife declined to smell it based on the looks alone.

The cheese itself was quite interesting looking. The pieces of curds were still somewhat visible, or at least the edges. I can believe that those are the “fault lines” that will make the cheese crumbly when it is ready.

The cheese had developed these red and black moldy spots. They were very superficial, as I was able to wash them with a nylon brush and a brine solution. I then wiped it with cold brine and dried it before placing it into a vacuum sealed bag.

Moldy cheddar
The cheese after removing the cloths. The smell was pleasant even though it had some beautiful reddish hues in the molds.

Next months of maturing

making cloth banded cheddar
The cleaned cheddar in its new cover

So now the cheese is back in the fridge for another three months or so. This cheddar is being made for the ultimate burger, where I’ll have my own dry-aged beef, my own sourdough brioche buns, self pickled (and hopefully grown) cucumbers and of course self made cheddar!

While I’m writing this, I’m making another batch of this same cheese. I’m going to grab some photos of the later stages and write a post about it as well. Including the recipe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.