Colby cheese is a semi hard cheese that was created in the town Colby, in Wisconsin and is still very much produced in Colby, Wisconsin today. There’s even a Colby cheese festival there every year!
Colby cheese is very similar to Cheddar cheese in terms of texture and the cheesemaking process. However, Colby cheese doesn’t go through the cheddaring process, which is what distinctly separates the two. Instead, the curds are washed with cold water making the cheese softer and less acidic than Cheddar cheese.
Just like Cheddar cheese, Colby cheese is traditionally made from cow’s milk and has a mild flavor. It’s lightly sweet but can sometimes be sharp and tangy as well. It’s traditionally used as a table cheese, for topping off burgers, or is simply commonly snacked on as well. Since it’s a great melting cheese, it’s perfect for incorporating in many dishes. Colby cheese is also great in sauces, on breads, omelets, casseroles, baked potatoes, and fruits like apples and pears.
Colby cheese is often mistaken as Monterary Jack cheese as the Jack cheese has a Colby-Jack cheese. However, although the two are produced nearly identically, they are different because Colby is seasoned with annatto which produces the sweet nutty flavor as well as the orange color Colby cheese is known for.
Aging: 1 Month
Skill Level: Intermediate
- 2.65 gallons of whole cow’s milk
- 1/4 tsp of Mesophilic Culture
- 5ml of Rennet diluted in 1/4 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons of non-iodized, cheese or kosher salt
Heat the Milk & Add Culture
- Heat your milk up. When it reaches 86°F you can start to add your culture in and stir thoroughly
- You can do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this step on the stove, be sure to slowly heat the milk and stir to avoid burning.
- Allow the milk and culture mixture to ripen for 1 hour
- After your mixture has ripened for 1 hour, you can add your diluted Rennet
- Allow it to rest for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour or until you have a clean break
Cut the Curd
- After an hour, your curd should be ready to be cut, if not, allow it to sit for longer
- Cut the curd into 1 cm cube size pieces
- Allow the curd mass to rest for 10 minutes
Heat the Curds
- Slowly heat the curds until they reach a temperature of about 102 °F
- This process should take 30 minutes and should be done very gradually as it makes the cheese more moist
- Stir regularly during the heating process to reduce any clumping from occurring.
- Once the optimum temperature is reached, maintain the temperature at 102°F for another 30 minutes
- Make sure to keep stirring the cheese during this entire period to prevent clumping
- Let the curds rest for 10 minutes
- Pour out the whey to level the curds. The whey should only be about an inch above the curds.
- Slowly add cold water to the mixture until the temperature of the water and curds reach 71°F to 77°F. A lower temperature creates a softer cheese.
- Maintain the temperature of the curds between 71°F to 75°F for a further 15 minutes.
Draining the Curds
- Gently pour the curds into a cheesecloth that is draped over a colander.
- Let the cheese drain for 15 minutes.
- Cut the curd into walnut-sized pieces.
- Mix the curds with the salt.
Mold & Press the Cheese
- Press the curds at 22 lbs. for 15 minutes.
- Remove, flip and rewrap the curds
- Continue to press from 44 lbs. for 20 minutes.
- Remove, flip and rewrap
- Continue to press at 55 lbs. for 1 hour
- Remove, flip and rewrap
- Continue to press at 66 lbs. overnight or for 12 hours.
- Remove and unwrap the cheese
Drying the Cheese
- Allow the cheese to air dry for 1-3 days.
- Leave the cheese at room temperature, turning the cheese over twice a day.
- After a couple of days, the cheese will be dry to the touch.
Storing the Cheese
- Either vacuum pack or wax your cheese.
- Age for 1 month.
- Do not age Colby cheese for too long otherwise, it will become dry.
For a more in-depth look at How to make Colby Cheese watch this video
Video Credit to Little Green Workshops