This cheese press has recently just made it to the top of my “Top 10 Most Wanted Urban Homesteading Gadgets” list.
I’ve dabbled in home cheese making a few times, and it’s mostly been a pretty colossal failure…
…mainly because of my lack of a decent one.
Here’s how my hard cheese attempts have gone:
- No cheese press + free weights= Dry Crumble Pancake EPIC FAIL Cheese.
- Homemade press cobbled together from available materials= Moldy Lopsided EPIC FAIL Cheese.
- Accidental hard cheese (unpressed) when attempting to make mozzarella= EPIC FAIL Mozzarella = Tasty Dry 2-Month Aged Cheese.
So anyway, needless to say… if I want to fulfill my dream and make a decent farmhouse cheddar, I really need it.
A good one.
Not one thrown together by things I happen to have sitting around, but one that’s actually, well, a cheese press.
I especially liked that this is a dutch press – meaning it is a very old design that’s been used for centuries to press cheese. They are considered the best on the market because of the way the lever arm uses the same concept as a set of old-fashioned scales to press with the correct amount of pressure.
Let’s Talk About it’s Features:
- Made in Europe – This is a very authentically designed cheese press. It is not a knockoff thrown together by an amateur, but is in fact a professionally made dutch style that has been build to last and consistently press thousands of pounds of cheese.
- Traditional Dutch design- this particular design has a lever that allows you to essentially hang a weight from the arm and use that leverage to press your cheese consistently and with the correct amount of pressure. Unlike spring-loaded presses, the pressure will stay consistent and not need continual re-adjusting.
- 1-2 Gallon Batch Size- I myself tend to stick with 1 or 2 gallon batches. This is the perfect size for home cheese making equipment, at least for those of us who don’t own a cow (yet!). I know I was looking for a small , as opposed to the 5 gallon sizes I generally see.
- Two Molds- It comes with two separate molds, one for a 1-gallon batch and another for a 2-gallon batch. This is nice because then your 2-gallon wheel of cheese isn’t just doubly as tall, but is appropriately shaped for it’s size.
- Adjustable Follower- The follower (the big stick going up in the middle) is adjustable so you can make extra-small batches if you want to, or for pressing cheeses that have varying amounts of whey still in them.
- Perforated molds- You might think this should be a “given” but I’ve seen a lot of cheese molds on the market that have no holes. Holes are absolutely necessary to expel the whey as the cheese is being pressed so that it doesn’t get moldy after it’s pressed.
What Does This Cheese Press Come With?
- Dutch design press
- 1-gallon size cheese mold
- 2-gallon size cheese mold
- Food-grade plastic mold follower
The Good and the Not-So-Good
Now, this is the part where I normally will put on my Private Investigator hat and try and find reviews and owners to talk to about it.
However, while the manufacturer has been making these for quite some time, it hasn’t really hit “mass retail” until recently so there’s just not a whole lot of available feedback.
Mostly, the discussions revolve around the design itself. Like I said above, this Dutch lever design is a very old design and is considered the best design.
There’s a couple other designs – the pressure spring-type press, and the kind (usually homemade) that you stick your weights on top.
Here’s why you want the dutch design press instead of the others:
- Spring-type presses are nice in that they generally take up less space. Having said that, there’s a major issue – with the pressure springs, as the cheese expels whey, the spring pressure will decrease slightly.This results in an inconsistent press and can cause all sorts of problems, if anything just an inconsistent flavor but can also result in not enough whey being expelled which can make an otherwise great cheese go moldy.
The dutch design presses, on the other hand, use a lever arm that keeps a consistent pressure during the entire process, which allows you to get the same results, predictably, every time.
- The type of presses that have you pile weights on top, well, I haven’t seen any commercially available. I will say this – the main problem with those is you oftentimes get a lopsided cheese if the weights are not absolutely perfectly centered on top of your follower.I’ve seen pictures, and one of the epic fail cheeses I mentioned (#2) was with one of those that I threw together. A lopsided cheese might not seem like too much of an issue, but consider that it will cure and dry out unevenly. That could pose some problems down the line as well.The nice thing about the dutch design presses are that, once again, because of the way the lever is set up, it gives an even consistent pressure on the whole wheel of cheese, and won’t favor one side or the other.
There is only one problem I can foresee with this press.
It’s base is small enough that I wonder if hanging a heavy weight on the lever arm will cause it to tip over. Having said that, I will probably do something similar that I did with my Piteba oil expeller.
I simply bolted the expeller onto a piece of lumber that would allow me to use c-clamps to clamp it onto my countertop. It worked really well for the Piteba, which requires some pretty heavy-duty hand-cranking, so I know it will work just fine for this press. Either that or even just screw it onto a piece of wood to extend the base to below the lever arm.
All in all, here’s what I care about:
I personally want to be able to have a nice small press that will press a couple gallon size batches.
I want one that will give me consistent results, and won’t cause me a headache.
It’s under $175 so is not going to cost me an arm and a leg, won’t take up half my kitchen, and it will allow me to make tasty hard cheeses that my family will love, and some wheels to give out as Christmas gifts.