Project 5: Farmhouse Cheddar, The Waxing!

Here’s the little wheel of farmhouse cheddar we made. It has a rather pretty pattern on the bottom from the cheese press. We sat it out for about a week air-drying (perhaps should have been less) until it developed a thin rind. I think it smelled like buttered popcorn!


I ordered 1 lb of red cheese wax from Ricki Carrol’s cheesemaking supply company — unfortunately, nobody had it locally. There’s a little sheet of directions which helpfully comes with the wax as I’ve never worked with this before and didn’t know what to expect. It took about thirty minutes on medium to medium-low in my improvised double boiler for it to become liquid. Heat higher than that caused the wax to start to bubble and spit so low and slow is the way to go.

Once it was in this liquid state it was a very thin mixture — I’ve only used paraffin before (a long time ago) and I recall that that stuff was much more thick.

Wax on....

I used a natural bristle brush (the book said that a synthetic could melt in the hot wax) and brushed it on in one thin coat followed by a second, making sure to fill in any holes or low spots in the cheese.

Though the wax was definitely hot, it cooled and solidified remarkably quickly (within seconds) and then was touchable. Getting two layers of wax on (two thin is better than one thick) took about fifteen to twenty minutes with a little rest in between layers. Brush the wax on until it starts to cool and then re-dip your brush — this keeps the surface looking glossy and not too smudgy (hard to explain until you do it).

Voila — Cheese is waxed and ready to age!

Things to know: your waxing brush will never be the same. I tried to remove the wax but it was impossible. After a little internet research I determined that this would be okay as the wax in the brush will melt into the next wax mixture somewhat and be pliable. I guess if I switch colors, I’ll need a new brush.

I put my little bowl of wax in the freezer after it had cooled and when the wax was rock hard I was able to pry it out with a knife and wrap it up to be used again. I used boiling water to get the wax residue off the bowl and wiped it out with a cloth.

Also, this wax will seriously stain — don’t be flinging it around!

The hard thing now is waiting. This farmhouse cheddar wants to be aged a month. Currently, it is sitting in my fridge all cute-like, not doing anything perceptible. Sometime soon, we’ll cut a slice off and sample it. If we think it needs more aging we can just re-wax the cut and let it sit a while longer. Hmm… we’ll see!

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