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By November 10, 2016 0 Comments Read More →

How to Make a Cheap Cheesepress

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Make this cheesepress for under a tenner!

Make this cheesepress for under a tenner!

 

This plan goes back to when we made Stilton, Lancashire and Brie cheeses last year. We have always wanted to do hard cheeses, too, which require specific weights, and therefore something a little more formal than a cheese on a tray with a chopping board on top, weighted down with a large carton of milk. You want a structure that has some strength, and the ability to bear down evenly on your cheese-in-the-making, or you’ll get a bizarre wedge-shaped round.

Other considerations were, sufficient height to include a follower – often with a small can inside it – and a little clearance above the legs so that the wooden parts don’t end up sitting in whey over a period of time.

REQUIREMENTS
  • 2 ‘Food grade’ wooden boards. I used two chopping boards that were designed specifically for contact with food.
  • 4 carriage bolts – I chose 12mm × 300mm carriage bolts for a sturdy construction, although it might look more elegant with 10mm bolts or smaller.
  • Washers and nuts – you will only need four nuts, but I decided eight washers would be useful, with four beneath the base to steady the structure, as it stands on a plastic tray.
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • A drill and a drill bit – the bit should be 1mm larger than the carriage bolts, so that the top plate moves freely, and will move smoothly downwards as weights are placed on it.
I got 2 identical chopping boards from Lidl.

I got 2 identical chopping boards from Lidl.

These carriage bolts are ideal and came from a timber yard.

These carriage bolts are ideal and came from a timber yard.

 

METHOD

1           Tape together the top and base with masking tape so that they effectively become a single board

– this means that they can be drilled as one to get the holes perfectly matching. I chose to use the top board the wrong way up (with the channel facing downwards) and the base board the right way up.

2           Put some masking tape over the corners of what will be the top plate and mark out the centre of the holes to be drilled. I used a ruler and marked crosses. Place masking tape over the corners of the bottom base, too – this will help to stop them splitting as the drill bit emerges.

X marks the spot.

X marks the spot.

 

PAUL’S TIP!

I could have done the drilling myself, but a 13mm drill bit is quite large, and I wanted to get the holes drilled perfectly perpendicular (at 90 degrees), so I took it along to a local workshop with a drill press (aka a bench or pillar drill) to get greater accuracy. You may have one, or know someone who does.

I know a bloke who can...

I know a bloke who can…

3           As soon as I got back home, I placed a washer over each of the carriage bolts (I thought this would make it a little steadier) and pushed one through each of the holes in the base – a perfect fit, and easier than if they had been drilled to the same size as the carriage bolts.

pic-6

4           The top was then put on, although it would only do its job with a cheese mould and follower in place. What it did do was to move easily up and down.

5           The next step was to put a cheese mould and follower on the base, together with a small soup tin sitting inside the follower. I could then put the top plate back in place, resting on the top of the soup tin.

6           I attached washers and nuts to each of the carriage bolts and tightened them loosely to the current height of the top plate, simply to secure it in place and prevent it getting knocked off in the event of an accident.

7           Finally, I placed some weights on top – we’ve used pebbles that have been weighed, and washed in the dishwasher, as they make attractive and unusual weights.

Weigh your stones.

Remember to weigh your stones.

 

I have a large plastic tray on which the cheese press will be used to minimise mess. It should then be able to stand uninterrupted for however long the recipe requires, with gravity and the weights doing the work.

FURTHER INFO
  • The chopping boards cost £1.99 each from Lidl. Chopping boards are inexpensive and tick the box because they are ‘food grade’.
  • The carriage bolts came from a local engineering supplier and cost £1.50 each, including nuts and washers.
  • I already had the masking tape, pencil and ruler.
  • The drilling was done for free, but I would always be willing to at least buy them a pint! In practice, many places will do it for free when you tell them what you are doing. People are generally very helpful, decent, and interested.
  • I chose carriage bolts that would enable the base to stand clear of the tray so that it would not spend time sitting in whey.
  • Although you do not need to attach the top plate to the carriage bolts with nuts, it makes the structure more secure. Do not tighten them, though, as it is the weights which should activate the press.
  • If you want to be really pedantic and include petrol costs and time, it probably went a little over a tenner, but those were the fun bits!

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

Paul Melnyczuk is editor of Home Farmer, and together with Ruth Tott is the founder of the company. His Ukrainian father and Austrian mother came over in the 1950s, and he was raised near Accrington (of Stanley fame) in Lancashire. With a degree in European Literature and a year spent living in Sweden, and a further 2 years in the Sudan, his background is rich and varied.

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