The Bandaging method is a more natural method and tend to appeal to cheesemakers who are not interested in preserving their cheese with colored wax.
What is the Bandaging Method?
Bandaging cheese involves wrapping the cheese in a cheesecloth bandage and then sealing it with a fat-based product such as lard. It can be relatively messy just like waxing is, but when it’s done correctly, it looks very neat in the end.
Bandaging Method also helps produce a better flavored cheese due to the molds that form around the bandage and also contribute to the aging of the cheese. It also allows cheese to breathe which wax or vacuum sealing doesn’t allow the cheese to do. That being said, with the extra air circulation, this method can tend to produce drier, flakier cheese, which is perfect for cheeses like Cheddar cheese, which that texture is sought after.
How to Bandage Your Cheese
- First, you need to make sure that your cheese has been properly air dried for at least a week. You also need to sanitize the cheesecloth prior to bandaging the cheese.
- When you’re ready to bandage your cheese, cut a top and bottom circle for your cheese from a normal cheesecloth. You should make the cut slightly bigger than the diameter of your cheese so that it hangs over the sides.
- Cut lengths of the bandage that will cover the full diameter of the cheese. Like the previous cuts, you should cut a little wider than the cheese so that it hangs over the edges.
- The goal is to overlap the bandages to make sure everything is properly sealed and there are no open edges.
- There are a few different options for sealing your bandage cheese. You can use ghee, butter, or lard. Regardless of what you’re using, just make sure that it’s soft and spreadable.
- Especially when using lard, it’s beneficial to heat it first until it’s fully clear to kill off any bacteria. Allow it to cool before using it to bandage the cheese.
- Once the fat is heated, drop the bandages into it to soak up some of the fat.
- Take the circle of bandage, wipe off any excess and apply it to the top of the cheese. Using a butter knife, spread out the layer of lard over all the areas of the bandage from the middle out. It’s important to make sure there aren’t any spots missed during this step.
- Turn your cheese over and put the other side of cloth over the cheese. Add another layer of fat of the cheesecloth.
- Put your cheese into a cheese press for 1 hour at about 60 lbs. The press will help the fat bandage and get into any cavities in the cheese.
- Once the cheese has been pressed, apply the side bandage around the edge of the cheese and press down the overhang so it now overlaps with the top and bottom bandages.
- Press again for 1 hour at 60 lbs.
- Leave the cheese overnight and repeat the same process above with a second layer of bandage. The second layer will help ensure that you do in fact have a great seal on your cheese.
Molds on Bandaged Cheese
Over time, mold will form on the bandage cheese, but should dry up in a short amount of time. They can definitely leave a very interesting and colorful looking covering your cheese.
You don’t have to worry about the molds effecting the cheese internally though because the fat will protect any bacteria from getting inside as long as you properly covered your cheese.
Although the Bandaging Method can seem a little daunting at first, once you do it a couple of times, you’ll realize how easy it really is.