Fellow Cheese Maker

Reverand Yoginatha Swami

Reverand Yoginatha Swami

Kauai's Hindu Monastery

Reverand Yoginatha Swami from Kauai's Hindu Monastery. The monastery web site is a wonderful place to watch the progress as these monks construct this world class temple.

A Day of Cheese Making

Our calves, Anuradha and Nandini.... We tend to the calves personally and they think they are little human beings. They get a lot of love and attention from the monks and visitors. Small children love to feed them with their favorites: bananas and banana leaves. We will keep them in this calf pen until they are old enough that we can be sure they will be safe from cattle rustlers in our open range fields.

With their earthly reincarnation they made the cheese making possible. Thank you to you and both of your moms.

Our cows Chathurti and Hana are waiting to be milked. Hana eager to get in the milking station to provide her milk for the temple and cheese making, or for some grains we feed them during milking. Shanmuganathaswami transferring the milk to milking machine bucket to another stainless steel pail to transport the milk to the kitchen.

Closer look at the transfer. Sanitation is very important during the entire process. Otherwise, hours spent during cheese making will be wasted. Our milking team, Sannyasin Shanmuganathaswami and Sadhaka Jivanandanatha arrived with the morning milk outside the back door of the Aadheenam kitchen. It is about seven gallons of milk. Which can yield about 6.5lbs of cheese. Milk is being prepared to be pasteurized. We are very fortunate to have the steam kettle which normally is used to cook for our Aadheenam guests during festivals. We could put the milk directly in the kettle for pasteurizing it but there no quick way to cool it down after it is heated. So we put a large pot in the kettle filled with water to heat the milk to 145F and sustain that temperature for about 30 minutes. To cool it we just need to remove the pot and put in the sink or the same kettle filled with cold water and ice. The temperature will be lowered to 86F for this particular cheese "Monterey Jack" which is the attempt today.

Yoginathaswami in action. The goal today is to produce Monterey Jack. The large pot of milk is removed from the kettle after it has been kept at 145F for 30 minutes. The milk transferred to the steam kettle for easy and precise heating. Temperature is being monitored constantly.

Mesophilic culture is being added. This is lactic acid producing bacteria, similar to that used for making yogurt, but very specific for each kind of cheese. Culture is being mixed gently but thoroughly. We have to let the milk ripen for 45 minutes. We follow the ripening with addition of vegetable rennet. We will have to let the milk coagulate for about 40 minutes or so for this cheese. When the curd is firm enough, then comes the cutting. It must be cut into uniform 1/2inch cubes. This size will vary from one kind of cheese to another.

Closer look at the cutting process. The curd after cutting, another look at it from a distance. Next comes a somewhat challenging task: We have to raise the temperature no more than 2F every five minutes while stirring the curd gently but consistently. The temperature will be raised from 86F to 100F in about 30 to 45 minutes.

The curd being cooked. Finally we reached the target temperature. The temperature now is maintained at 100F for another 30 minutes while stirring it frequently. The whey is now drained to the level of the curd and again the temperature is maintained at 100F for another 30 minutes. Now it is stirred every five minutes to prevent the curd from matting (sticking together).

The curd is now poured into the colander lined with cheese cloth to be drained. The curd is then removed from the colander. And salt is added and mixed well with the curd.

Now the curd is transferred to a cheese cloth lined mold. The curd is placed in the mold, ready to be pressed in our home made cheese press. After 15 minutes, it is removed from the mold and the cheese cloth. Then this very fragile block is carefully placed upside down back in the mold lined with cheese cloth. And will be pressed for another 12 hours with a bit more pressure. The cheese block is removed from the mold and air dried at room temperature for few days.

After several days of air drying now the cheese is waxed. We mixed both clear wax and a bit of red wax so that we can see where the wax was applied. Our cheese refrigerator .. Now the new cheese will have to be turned several times a day for a couple weeks. Then once a day for a couple more weeks. Finally a few times a week for the duration of curing which for most cheeses is three to six months minimum.

As the cows reach the end of their lactation cycle and the milk production goes down in a few months, everyone will be happy we took this effort to preserve this bountiful gift.

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