No, not waxing unwanted hair, a waxing moon, or waxing poetic. Today is one of my cheese posts. Sorry if you were lured here under false pretenses 😉

My husband built us a small cheese press that will handle about a two-pound wheel, but the only time I’ve used it, we didn’t get the rind dry enough and the cheese got pretty funky. So this time, we figured we’d try waxing the wheel.

Hello Iowa Jack!

This was our first attempt at making Monterey Jack and it took FOREVER! Heat the milk to 88 degrees, then add the starter culture and wait half an hour. Add the rennet and wait another half hour. Cut the curd and let sit for 30 minutes. Raise the temperature and hold for half an hour. You get the idea. Forever.

But we survived and had the cute little cheese on the right to show for it. My home cheesemaking book cautioned that cheese wax fumes are highly flammable, so we ended up melting the wax on a camp stove outside. I think next time I’ll get green wax and we’ll have Christmas cheese.

So the next pictures are what a homemade wheel brushed with wax looks like. Hardly consumer-ready, but certainly an experience. So how did this waxing thing remind me of writing? (see, it comes back to writing

Wow, that's bright red

 eventually)

  • It takes at least two layers to protect the cheese and develop deep flavors. For a really great book, it’s not just the primary, obvious story line, but the layers of conflict and character that create the full taste.
  • Practice makes…less ugly. I’m hoping our inaugural waxing experience is much like a first draft: the next version is smoother.
  • Both are needy. The cheese needs to be stored at 55 degrees and at least 65% humidity, turned several times each week to keep the butterfat from migrating to the bottom. Manuscripts don’t come out right the first time and won’t get any better just by sitting there.

    Ta da!

So now we just have to keep turning the cheese and wait at least two months to eat it. That’s another thing writing and cheesemaking have in common, you craft something and develop the flavors and hopefully your patience pays off. Now if only I was patient!

Anyone have general waxing stories to share? What interesting cheese or book packaging have you seen?

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