Cheesemaking: How To Make Derby Cheese With Sage

This cheese is a Derbyshire cheese that was created during the early 20th century. It is a moister, softer and earlier ripening version of Cheddar. Sage is added to this recipe to give it a delicious twist.



What To Do

2 Gallons of Milk (Not UltraPasteurized)
2/3-3/4 Packet C101 Mesophilic Culture or 3/16 tsp MA11 Culture*
1/2 Tsp (2.5 ml) Single Strength Liquid Rennet
0.8 oz Salt
6-12 Sage Leaves for Aroma/Flavor
6-12 Spinach Leaves for Color
Calcium Chloride (for pasteurized milk)

What To Do

1. The first step is to heat and acidify the milk. So let’s begin by heating the milk to 84F. To do this, place the milk in a container and then place it in a large pot of very warm water. If you heat it on the stove, be sure to heat it slowly and stir it as it heats if you heat it on the stove.

Once you are done heating the milk, you can add the culture. The powder can become very cakey and sink in clumps so to prevent this, sprinkle the culture over the surface of the milk and then let it sit for a couple of minutes. This allows the powder to re-hydrate before you stir it in. After stirring, let the milk sit for a further hour so that the culture can get to work.

2. While you are waiting for the milk to warm and ripen, you should begin preparing the sage.
– Clean the leaves well in cold water and let them soak for 10-20 minutes. This can help remove some of the herbal bitterness.
– Make sure you drain the leaves well and then add around 2-4oz. of cold water and blend the herbs into a fine puree.
– Now set the puree aside for later use. The puree should be dark green once the foam subsides.

3. After an hour of ripening, add in the single strength liquid rennet. Stir the rennet in for about a minute in a slow up and down motion. The rennet will begin to coagulate the curd, let it sit for another hour. You will see the milk thicken after around 20 minutes, but it still needs the full hour for a proper curd to form.

One way to check for a good card, insert a knife into the curd at a 45-degree angle and lift slowly until the curd breaks. The edges should break cleanly and the whey that will rise should be clear, not cloudy.

Remember to utilize coagulation times by sanitizing the cheese molds and draining boards.

Once the curd is firm, you can begin to cut it into 1/2-5/8 inch pieces as evenly as possible, using a knife to make vertical cuts.

Stir the curds gently enough to keep them separated for about 5 minutes. This will allow for the curd surface to harden enough for a long stir. Make sure you allow the curds to settle for about another 5 minutes to allow the whey to rise.

Begin to stir the curds consistently for the next 15 minutes and bring the temperature back up to 84F if it has dropped.

The curds will appear to be soft and show very little structure, while the whey may be opaque.

4. You can now begin to dry out the curds. This can be done by increasing the heat slowly to 92F. You need to increase the temperature at the rate of 3-5F per 5 minutes at the beginning, making the total cooking time 15 minutes, but may be extended if the curds are still soft.

The curds will become firmer and the whey will appear more translucent.

You should examine the curds to make sure enough moisture has been removed. Broken curds should be firm throughout and the curds should be firm throughout and the curds should have a moderate resistance when pressed between the fingers.

The curd is ready when a handful of curds pressed together easily separate with a little pressure from the thumb. At this point, the curds can be allowed to settle under the whey.

5. The whey should first be removed to the curd surface in the vat. You can transfer the curds to a colander lined with butter muslin. Allow them to be drained for a few minutes, gently stirring the curds will make sure the whey drains off.

6. Once you have released all the free whey, fold the drainage cloth over and turn the cheese mass to allow it to consolidate. Then place another identical tub with no holes on top and add 1/2-3/4 gallons of water. This is to keep the curd warm and to help with consolidating the curd mass.

At this point, the final acidity has developed and some calcium will be leached from the curd and flow off into the whey. The structure of the curd will also begin to change.

Unwrap the cheese mass and turn it over and rewrap every 15-30 minutes for the next 1-2 hours while final acid is produced. The final acid being pH=5.3-5.4 TA%=.45-.55 and more whey is expelled. The longer you let the curd develop, the more it is turned and the drier it will become.

Once the curd has ripened, you should see a change in its structure. It will be well consolidated and flatter. When you break it, you should see an elongated individual curd profile.

7. Now the curd should be torn or cut into small walnut sized pieces. This will allow for the salt to penetrate to the center of each curd and stops the development of excess acid which is already near its targeted development. Failing to do this will result in an over acid cheese.

8. This next step is about adding the salt and sage to the curd. About 2% of the curd weight in salt should be added. The final curd weight of 2.5lbs will need around .8oz of salt. Add the salt in 2-3 cycles, with time between for the salt to dissolve.

Once the salt is absorbed, you can add the sage/spinach infusion to the broken curds. This should now have dropped to room temp and will be cooler than the curds. This will cause more of the sage liquid infusion to be absorbed into the curds. It is essential to add the salt before the sage infusion because the whey released from salt additions will cause some of the sage flavor to be released as well.

Stir the sage infusion well into the curds and allow them to rest for a few minutes while you prepare the mold.

9. Make sure the mold and cloth have been sanitized. The curd can be pressed into the mold and compacted with a firm hand to begin the consolidation.

Fold the cloth over the surface and the follower placed on top so that the press weight is on the cheese surface and not in the mold itself.

10. This is the stage where you begin pressing the cheese. To press the cheese, begin very light and then slowly increase the press weight to a moderate level:

– 30 minutes at 15 lbs
– 60 minutes at 20 lbs
– 2 hours at 35 lbs
– Overnight at 40-50lbs

After the initial drainage of whey, the rate of whey running off will be a matter of drops and not a stream of whey being released. This is a good rate of whey removal during pressing and will slow down even more as the residual free moisture is released. You should see tears of whey weeping from the form very slowly. When it stops completely, increase the weight slightly.

Remove the cheese from the press and unwrap, turn and rewrap and put it back into the press at the above intervals to assure an even consolidation.

11. Now it is time to age the cheese. You can place it into the aging room at 52-56F and 80-85% moisture. Age the cheese for around 4-6 weeks, after this time, the cheese will be ready for serving. Or you can leave for a further 3-6 month for a complex aged texture and flavor.

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