Monterey Jack Cheese Making Recipe

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Monterey Jack or Jack Cheese is believed to be created by David Jacks near Monterey, CA in the 1890s. It is a soft, white, slight tangy cheese. Authentic California Jack cheese has a tiny eye structure throughout while Jack cheese made elsewhere has no eyes. It is ready to eat after a month of aging unless you prefer more of an acidic tang in which case you may age longer.



Combine milk, optional cream and diluted calcium chloride in a cheese pot within a double boiler. Heat the milk to 88°F.

Turn off the heat and sprinkle DVI Mesophilic starter onto milk's surface. Allow the culture to rehydrate for 3 minutes before stirring it into the milk. Allow the milk to ripen for 45 minutes.

Note the time and add the prepared rennet and stir it gently into the milk, using an up and down motion. Let the milk set covered at 88°F for 30 - 40 minutes or until the curd shows a clean break. (See: How to Test Gel Development).

Once you see a clean break you can cut the gel into curds. Use a curd knife to cut the gel into 1/2 inch cubes. Let the curds heal for 5 minutes.

Increase the temperature of the water bath to 100°F. Indirectly heat the curds to 100°F by increasing the temperature no faster than 2°F every five minutes. It should take 30 minutes to reach 100°F. Stir the curds gently but frequently during this cooking period to keep the curd pieces from matting together.

Maintain the curds at 100°F for an additional 30 minutes stirring every several minutes to keep the curds from matting. Allow the curds to settle for five minutes.

Pour or ladle off the whey down to the level of the curd. Maintain a temperature of 100°F and allow the curds to set for 30 minutes stirring every five minutes to prevent matting.

Place a large colander in the sink. Pour the curds and whey into the colander and allow the curds to drain. To facilitate draining, gently sift through the curds with clean hands. Unblock the draining holes as necessary and keep the curds from matting. Once the whey has drained, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flaked salt over the curds and gently mix it in using your hands. Wait 1 minute and repeat with another 1 tablespoon of flaked salt. Wait 1 minute and repeat with the last tablespoon of flaked salt.

Note: You can make a pepper jack cheese by adding ¼ to ½ cups of dried red pepper flakes or fresh chopped peppers of your choice prior to pressing. (Fresh peppers should be blanched in boiling water then patted dry)

Press the cheese with 4 - 5 lbs. of weight for 15 minutes. Turn the cheese and press for 12 hours with 8 - 10 lbs. of weight.

Remove the cheese from the press as before and unwrap the cloth. Mix 1 tablespoon of salt with 1/2 cup of water. Using a corner of the cheesecloth, lightly apply a saltwater wash to the cheese.

Place the salted cheese on a bamboo mat to air dry for 1-3 days. Cover with a clean cheesecloth. Turn the cheese over twice each day. When it starts to form a yellowish rind and is dry to the touch, it is ready to wax for storage.

Wax the cheese and store for aging at 40° to 60°F (55°F is ideal) for 1-4 months. Turn the cheese over daily for the first month and several times a week thereafter.

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