Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Greening of Gavin's Wensleydale

Back to Basics in Australia

Many of you have probably read a wonderful blog called The Greening of Gavin, written by an Australian father of 4 who watched "An Inconvenient Truth," in 2006, and decided to lessen his carbon footprint.  This is his short profile at the top of his home page:

An Ordinary Australian Man Who Has A Green Epiphany Whilst Watching A Documentary, Gets a Hybrid Car, Plants A Large Organic Vegetable Garden, Goes Totally Solar, Lowers Consumption, Feeds Composts Bins and Worms, Harvests Rainwater. All In The Effort To Reduce Our Family's Carbon Footprint So We Can Start Making A Difference For Our Children and Future Generations To Come.

Gavin began making cheese toward the end of 2008, and in 2009, he made 12 different kinds of cheese.  He told me our book, Home Cheese Making was the first book he bought after taking a course in Australia.  In his blog, there are great articles about each of the cheeses he made and about his wine refrigerator which he converted to an aging "cave."

I picked one of his cheeses to publish here, with his permission, of course.  I added links to our products and I converted some of the measurements from metrics.  Otherwise, this is Gavin's simple recipe for a very popular cheese:

Gavin's Wensleydale
Recipe and Method
Over the last few weeks I have had four requests for the cheese recipe I use for Wensleydale. So here it is. Just make sure you have at least 9 hours up your sleeve and don't start making it at 7pm and end up finishing at 3am like I did a few weeks ago!

Makes about 2 pounds (850 gm)


2 gallons (8 litres) whole milk

1/4 teaspoon direct set Mesophilic culture (C101)

1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) rennet (R7 or others)
mixed with 5 tsp. (25 ml) non-chlorinated water

1/2 tsp. (3 ml) calcium chloride (C14)
if using homogenized milk

3 teaspoons non-iodized salt (S1)

Sterilize all equipment. I put a quart (litre) of water into the pot, put all utensils in it, cover and boil for 15 minutes. Anything that may melt, I wipe down with vinegar and a boiled cloth. If I handle the milk/curds or finished cheese, I spray vinegar on my hands from a spray bottle and rub together until dry. That way the milk will not get infected by any wild yeasts or molds that are maybe on my hands.

Using a double boiler, heat the milk to 86F (30C). If using homogenized milk, add calcium chloride to 2 tablespoons water and mix to the milk gently. Add Mesophilic starter, mix well for a minute, cover and allow milk to ripen for 45 minutes.

Add rennet whilst stirring and stir bottom to top for 2 minutes. Cover and allow to stand for 45 minutes until the curd sets, maintaining the temperature. Test with your finger for a clean break in the curds, then cut the curd into 1/2 in (13 mm) cubes and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Stir the curds and whey for 10 minutes, then let rest for 15 minutes. Stir the curd again as you raise the temperature to 90F (32C).  Maintain this temperature, and stir the curd as often as necessary to stop the curd knitting together.  Do this for 2 hours.

Drain the whey off and ladle the curd into a colander lined with cheesecloth. Tie in a bundle and for 2 hours, open every 15 minutes to break the curd into small pieces.

After the two hours break up the curd for one final time and apply the salt. Mix the curds and salt well.

Place half the curd into a cheesecloth lined 2 qt (1 kg) cheese basket and apply a layer of sterilized sage leaves (sterilize on clean oven tray at 250F (120C) for 10 minutes), pressing down well.

Fill with remainder of curd and press at 10 pounds (5kg)  for 15 minutes. Carefully remove cheese from cloth, turn over and press at 50 pounds (25kg) for 12 hours.

Remove from press and cheesecloth. Place on a board and allow to dry for 2 days. Apply wax and store at 55-59F (13-15C) at 80-85% humidity. Can be eaten in 3 weeks or aged for up to 3 months.

This is a wonderful cheese, and I have never been able to find Wensleydale in the local grocery store. There is no equal as far as I am concerned and beats the store bought tasty cheddar any day. However my opinion may change when I try my Pepperjack when it matures!

For more great recipes, check out Gavin's blog-


The Japanese Redneck said...

Looks good!

Susan said...

If you make this cheese without the sage is it still Wensleydale cheese?
(I have a sage allergy)

Gavin said...

@ Susan,

You can leave the sage out if you want. It is still very much Wensleydale. I just put it in for extra flavouring.


George said...

Dried cranberries work for me!

Res Naturae...Celebrating the Beauty of Nature said...

I made this last week, and it looks as though there will be mechanical holes because the curd was dry when put into the mold then pressed. Is this ok? I have since waxed the cheese and am turning it in it's box cave.

Res Naturae...Celebrating the Beauty of Nature said...

I made this last week and I have a question!
It looks as if there will be mechanical holes because of the dry stirring of the curds before molding. Is that correct? Mine is now pressed, dried, and waxed but it looked "bumpy" before pressing and had evidence of curd individuality after pressing too. Is that ok?

Jeri said...

I think your best bet is to contact Gavin at his blog- "The Greening of Gavin" or Jim Wallace at Happy cheese making!

Res Naturae...Celebrating the Beauty of Nature said...

thanks, I have done that

darren aldridge said...

Hi Gavin.Darren and Simone here from Box Hill.I made your Wensleydale from your recipe book but i didn't put the sage in.the Wensleydale came up very nice And lve made many more cheese from your book too all yummy.thxs very much.Great book.