|One of this year's first cheeses, all dressed up in red cheese wax.|
If you look through detailed instructions for making cheese, you will note how specific the temperatures are. The following are examples from Ricki Carroll's Home Cheese Making.
"It's important to drain the cheeses in a place where the temperature stays close to 72°F."
"Air-dry the cheese at 50°F for 3 weeks. "
"Most cheeses prefer an aging temperature between 46 and 60°F and a relative humidity of 75 to 95 percent."
|Fresh out of the cheese press.|
And the beeswax? When I used up the last of my cheese wax, I decided I was going to try beeswax instead. Cheese wax is expensive, and even though it can be saved and reused, it still must be purchased. When we got bees, I chose the Warré beehive because it meant I could harvest beeswax as well as honey. I use beeswax in my herbal salves and want to make candles for emergency lighting someday.
|Since I'm not harvesting my own beeswax yet, I bought some|
in "cones" which I think are made in styrofoam cups as molds.
I waxed two cheeses with straight beeswax, and then discovered what others already know; that the wax is brittle and cracks easily. Suggestions to make it more pliable include adding a bit of vegetable shortening, lard, or coconut oil. I removed the beeswax from the cracked wax cheese, and then added a lump of coconut oil to my beeswax pan. I rewaxed the cheese with better results.
I wax my cheeses by dipping them. I've tried brushing the wax on, but sheesh, what a mess I make (it's the same with paint and a paintbrush). It still has a honey smell, so I'll be curious as to how that effects the flavor of the cheese after it ages.
|Beeswaxed goat cheese.|
One idea I read about is to use crayons (which are made of food-grade wax and colorings) to color the wax. That would be handy for identifying different types of cheeses. This particular cheese is my standby - #15. It doesn't use a purchased cheese culture and you can find the recipe here.
For a number of good recipes using beeswax (including cheese wax), check out the "Beeswax Recipes" from John & Debra Bruihler. Also Rona’s “Beeswaxing” Method and this thread from the Permies.com forum. An excellent article about proper waxing and storing (do hard cheeses really need refrigeration?) is "Settling the Cheese Wax Controversy" by Preparedness Pro.
Seasonal Cheese Making (and Beeswax) © October 2015