Sunday, March 6, 2011

I made Caerphilly!

Caerphilly is a cheese that was a fixture in the lunchboxes of Welsh miners, and since both of my great grandparents (on one side) were born in Wales, I decided to make one in their honor. It's an easy cheese to make, and has a short cure time of around 3 weeks to be ready to eat. It does not even need to be waxed! This cheese is considered a "rennet coagulated hard cheese" and the only culture needed is a mesophilic (low temp) culture you can make at home from cultured buttermilk. (The instructions are in this post.)

Caerphilly (sounds like 'carefully') is said to be a slightly salty, somewhat crumbly cheese, and the miner's ate it to replace salt lost sweating in the mines long ago. 

I made mine on Feb. 28, and to my surprise because it is NOT a well-known cheese, it was the featured cheese March 4th on the blog from The New England Cheesemakers Supply, so I expect a lot of folks will be trying it soon!

The recipe calls for 2 gallons of milk but one gallon was all I had on hand, so I just cut everything in the recipe in half. The recipe I used is from, and I believe it was adapted from the recipe in Tim Smith's book, Making Artisan Cheese, and also partially adapted from Gavin's recipe that is featured on the blog mentioned above.

I'm quite pleased with mine, and if it tastes like I think it will, I expect to be making a lot of it to eat over the summer gardening time.

Process highlights:

Follow the recipe for details: cook the milk, add rennet, let mix coagulate, cut into curds.

Drain Curds

Slice into slabs, stack, and turn 2-3 times in 10 minutes to drain more whey.

With clean hands, crumble curds to thumbnail size pieces and mix in the salt.

Place salted curds in cheesecloth-lined mold and press for 10 minutes. Remove from press, mold, and cheesecloth. Invert, re-dress in cheesecloth, remold, and press another 10 minutes. Repeat procedure again and press for 16 hours.

After the last long press, remove from the mold, rub salt on the top and bottom, and air-dry 3-4 days until it develops a hard rind and doesn't weep anymore. Invert several times a day to assure even drying and fat distribution.

After 4 days of drying at room temp, mine is ready to put in the "cave" for about 2 weeks at temps around 55-60ºF and a relative humidity of 85%. Right now I only have my root cellar to use as a cave, and the RH is closer to 70% so I will place a pan of water under the rack. During the 4 days of room temp drying, my wheel lost 21% in weight, but it still weighs more than one pound, made from just 1 gallon of milk.

BTW, I am getting a used dorm refrigerator this weekend, and have a PID controller, etc. on order... all will be used to make a temp and humidity controlled cheese cave. I'll post about making it when I get all the parts. I plan to make a second one for a sausage fermenting chamber, and possibly a third one from a full-size refrigerator as a meat curing chamber. (I'm thinking the summer temps in my root cellar will be too high to cure meat, although it's been perfect all winter.)


  1. Where was the actual recipe for this? I did not see it on the link for "recipe". It looks like it came out great.

  2. Becky, Thanks for catching that... I had the wrong thread linked, but have corrected it in the post above now.,6225.msg44530.html#msg44530

    I'm making another at this very moment, with a few changes I incorporated from several different recipes I have since found...

  3. Thanks. It looks like such a nice cheese that I would really like to try it sometime.

  4. Thanks. There are many slight differences in all the recipes I've found for it so I'm working towards some consistency.

    I've decided to use this cheese as my Cheese 101, and keep making it until I get it just the way I want a quick hard cheese. Something to eat while I wait for other cheeses to age anywhere from 3 months to a year. Patience is not my long suite!


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