Shropshire Sage

Method

Add 3 gallons of morning milk to 2 gallons from the night before and warm it to 88°F. Stir well and add 1 teaspoon of rennet mixed with 4 teaspoons cold water, and stir for 3 minutes. Cover and leave to set. When solid cut into ½ inch strips with a long-bladed knife. Leave for 10 minutes, then break up carefully with the hands, stirring the whole mass carefully. Warm some of the whey and add to bring temperature up to 90°F.; keep on stirring till curd falls into smooth and firm pieces. Cover, leave 30 minutes, then push curds to side and drain off the whey. Cut curd into 6 inch cubes, leave 10 minutes; turn over and cut again, and leave another 10 minutes. Curd should now look dry. Break up fine and add salt to taste. Line a brawn tin with a cloth, pack curd in it, put a wooden cover on top and then a heavy weight on that. Turn next day and repeat if necessary. During ripening this cheese should be turned over every day and kept at least 8 weeks.

Sage can be added to the curd, both to colour and flavour. Either the whole of the cheese can be coloured or, as with Derby Sage, you can colour a centre layer of curd. To do this put a mixture of spinach leaves (to give colour) and sage leaves (enough to give flavour) through a mincing machine. Mix this with a little water and put into a muslin cloth and leave to drain. A third of the curd necessary to fill the tin is coloured by mixing it with the green liquid which has drained through the cloth. Thorough mixing is necessary and the surplus liquid is allowed to drain away. Half the uncoloured curd is placed in the tin and carefully pressed down. The coloured curd is then put in and pressed down before adding the remaining uncoloured curd to fill. The cheese is then put to press and subsequently treated in the usual way.

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