Monterey jack from scratch #2

Yield: 4 Servings

Measure Ingredient

Notes on the above:

(a) For those of you who'll be adding chiles: they should be added after salting the curd. If using fresh chiles, you should probably parboil them (5 minutes or so) to make some kind of attempt at sterilizing them. Pickled ones seem not to produce any problems, and neither do dried or powdered chiles. Additionally, the chile flavors seem to intensify the longer the cheese is kept. The problem is *keeping* the stuff: the flavor of fresh homemade Jack cheese is far superior to that of the store-bought kind, and you'll find it won't last long. NB: cheese which has been aged 8-10 days in the fridge seems to melt better.

(b) The trickiest part of all of this is keeping the temperature of the milk from jumping too quickly, and keeping it steady for prolonged periods.

You may want to experiment a little with your double-boiler apparatus, with water in the inner pan instead of milk, to see how quickly the temperature goes up when you change burner settings on your stove.

Some of the trickiness involves the way temperatures will continue to "float" upward even after you've turned the burner down or off. It is important not to let it get out of control: otherwise the extra heat will kill the organisms in the starter. Residual heat "float" can be slowed up by slipping ice cubes into the milk one at a time until the heat stabilizes. Don't overdo this, obviously.

(c) Equally obviously, vegetarians can substitute vegetarian rennet for the non-vegetarian kind. I usually make mine with vegetarian rennet, just for convenience's sake.

(d) Cleanliness in the utensils is very important in this process: everything should be freshly scalded out with near-boiling water before you start, to keep alien "bugs" from making lie difficult for the friendly ones in the starter.

(e) For those of you with livestock: chickens and pigs like the leftover whey mixed with meal or feed.

(f) The quantities given in the recipe make a wheel of cheese weighing between 1½ and 1 ¾ pounds. Posted to CHILE-HEADS DIGEST V4 #151 by Peter Morwood & Diane Duane <owlsprng@...> on Oct 07, 1997

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