How to Make Pepper Jack Cheese
- Take a water-bath setup or a double boiler, slowly heat the milk to 88°F.
- Sprinkle the starter over the milk and allow it to rehydrate for a full minute. After that, hurl in the starter using a cheese spoon in slow, up-and-down motions and stir.
- Cover up the milk and set to ripen for 30 minutes at 90°F for 30 minutes, untouched.
- Incorporate diced peppers and blend well.
- Instantly pour in diluted rennet to the milk using the cheese spoon. Mix the milk in firm up-and-down motions for a minute.
- Recover the milk and set at 90°F for 30 minutes or until there is a clean break.
- Slice the curd into 1/4-inch cubes; let rest for about 40 minutes, untouched.
- Slowly warm up the curds to 100°F, increasing the temperature not more than 2 degrees every 5 minutes. Mix slowly but constantly during this time to prevent curd matting. Let stay at 100°F for half an hour while stirring thoroughly and constantly.
- Take away the curds from heat and set apart for 5 minutes, uncovered and untouched.
- Carefully drain the whey. Just leave enough whey fur the curds to be swathed in for another 30 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes, keeping the temperature at 100°F throughout this time.
- Take a cheesecloth-lined strainer and put it over a sink or large bowl. Scoop warm curds into the strainer. Include salt and blend lightly using your hand.
Pressing the Cheese
- Cover a 2-pound cheese press with damp butter muslin and slowly add the curds. Wrap over the butter muslin and put follower into the press. Compress at 3 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes.
- Take away the cheese from the press, unpack and turn over, rewrap and again put into the press for 12 hours at 10 pounds of pressure.
- Take away again, transfer to a clean cheese mat at room temperature to air-dry for a few days, flipping it over occasionally until fully dry.
Waxing and Aging the Cheese
- Wax or rub the cheese in butter and cover-up in butter muslin.
- Let the cheese age at 55ºF for approximately 1-4 months, based on how intense you like your cheese. Flip the cheese once per week. It is ready at 4 months, but will just get more intense as it ages.
Pepper Jack is the offspring of Monterey Jack cheese, the first "American" cheese invented by Mexican Franciscan ministers of Monterey, California
As the name recommends, pepper jack cheese is enhanced with sweet peppers, rosemary, habañero chilies, and garlic and hot jalapeños for a pop of spice.