By Contributing Writer

You can learn how to make pepper jack cheese from scratch. It's an absolutely delicious and elegant appetizer or main snack at events. It can be served with cheese, wine and crackers for an ambiance that fosters friendly discussion. Let your imagination go, and you can imagine your way to great entertaining while preparing your very own pepper jack cheese.


Step 1

Heat the milk to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the starter and stir thoroughly. Cover and allow the milk to ripen at 90 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes,

Step 2

Add the diluted calcium chloride, if necessary. Add the finely chopped peppers; (note: other peppers may be used of your choosing, then what was suggested.) Stir until well blended.

Step 3

Add the diluted rennet and stir gently with an up-and-down motion for approximately one minute. Cover and let set at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. for approximately thirty minutes, or until the curd gives a clean break.

Step 4

Cut the curd into 1/4 inch cubes, and let set for approximately forty minutes.

Step 5

Heat the curds to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, increasing the temperature by two degrees ever five minutes (this will take approximately thirty-five minutes.) Stir gently but frequently to keep the curds from matting.

Step 6

Maintain the curds at 100 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately thirty minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the curds from matting,. Let the curds set for approximately five minutes.

Step 7

Then gently and carefully pour off the whey to the level of the curds. Allow the curds to set for approximately thirty minutes longer, stirring every five minutes to prevent matting. Maintain the temperature at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 8

Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it in a sink. Ladle the curds into the colander. Sprinkle the salt over the curds, mixing gently, and let drain.

Step 9

Place the curds in a cheesecloth-lined mold. Press the cheese with a 3-pound weight for approximately fifteen minutes.

Step 10

Remove the cheese from the mold and gently peel away the cheesecloth. Turn over the cheese, re-dress it, and press at approximately ten pounds of pressure for twelve hours.

Step 11

Remove the cheese and place it on a clean surface at room temperature to air-dry. Turn twice a day until the surface is dry to the touch. Drying may take up to three days, depending on the temperature and humidity.

Step 12

Wax the cheese. Directions: Cool the cheese in the refrigerator for several hours prior to waxing. Melt the cheese wax in a double boiler. Apply the wax with a natural bristle brush, working on one surface of the cheese at a time. Allow it to cool for several minutes. You will then turn it over, and wax the other surface. Cheese wax dries very quickly. It takes at least two thin coats of wax to protect the cheese.

Step 13

Age the cheese at 55 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 1-4 months, depending upon how sharp you like your cheese. Always turn it over at least once a week. (If you decided to use raw milk, make sure that your cheese is aged at least sixty days.) The cheese will become sharper as the cheese ages.