Remember the post on making my first hard cheese back in February? I made it on Feb. 5-6, and waxed it on Feb. 16. It has been aging in the cool and damp root cellar ever since, and I finally decided to cut it open and taste it.
Now, 6 weeks is a short aging time for a hard-rind cheese but according to the Dr. Fankhouser recipe I used, it could have been cut 2 weeks ago.
I must say that for my first cheese and doing a lot of things wrong (but right by the recipe), it tastes pretty good!
I just dipped it in melted paraffin as a coating, but now I know that the coating (pref. wax which isn't brittle like paraffin) should be around 190ºF or a little higher to kill any surface bacteria. Sure enough, my cheese developed 2-3 spots of mold under the paraffin. They were small, about the size of the tip of a pencil eraser and just on the surface, and they didn't appear until 4-5 days before I cut it open.
The cheese has a nice dry, crumbly texture and a sort of mild cheddar-ish flavor. (NOT like American Kraft cheddar!) It has a great aftertaste that develops and lingers in my mouth. I may make this recipe again, only in a 2 gallon batch, and let it age 6 months to see what it's like then.
Meanwhile, I have another farmhouse cheddar from a different recipe I made a month ago and posted March 15 that can be cut later this week. It was a 2 gallon batch; I cut the cylinder in half after it came out of the mold and dried, then vac-sealed each half to age. This way I can taste one aged a month and leave the other one to age longer.