Pressing Your Cheese
After following your chosen homemade cheese recipe, you are ready to assemble your press and pour in the curds. Involve your children and turn your cheese press testing into a fun homeschool science experiment.
Set the base of your press in a kitchen sink, preferably one you won’t need to use for the duration of your cheese production. Alternatively, you can use a shallow pan to catch the whey draining from your curds. Even a bucket will do, so long as it is clean and bacteria-free.
Set your PVC pipe on the base, with notches facing down. Pour in your curds.
Lay a small piece of wax paper over the open end of the PVC pipe. Fit the round wooden block into the top of the PVC, pressing it and the wax paper down with your fist. Push to compact the curds and force out the excess whey.
Place a mason jar upside down on top of the round wooden block. Place a small two pound weight from a set of free weights, a heavy book, large stone, or other weight on top of the mason jar. Allow the wood block to settle deeper into the PVC pipe before adding more weight. This could take several hours. For added stability, consider placing a piece of plywood over the mason jar to hold weights evenly. Alternatively, you could anchor the plywood to the cheese press base with long bolts, threaded pipe, or other options to provide "legs" at the four corners. This modification, however, prevents easy disassembly of the press for storage in a kitchen drawer.
Follow the instructions in your recipe for pressing times. Add weight as needed, depending on your recipe and individual results. When the whey is drained and the cheese is ready to salt and cure, simply remove the weights, pick up the PVC, and use the wood block to push the mold out of the pipe.
Depending on the specific items you use, the base, PVC pipe, and jar can all go in the dishwasher for clean up. The wooden block, thanks to the wax paper barrier, should only need surface cleaning.