Sunday, 16 October 2011

Mr Farmer solves a pressing problem

The Balancing-Bucket Cheese Press: outdoor use only.
Multi-purpose: doubles as a catapult.
Every year, Mr Farmer gets upset about the lack of space in the fridge, due to the growing number of batches of feta. Last year, Helen and I were proactive, and used some of her milk to make a cheddar cheese, so that Mr Farmer could have a little fridge space. The only problem with cheddar is that it requires a cheese press - because we didn't have a cheese press on hand, Helen and I had to get creative, both with our press, and with our weights. After some failed attempts balancing bricks and cans and bottles of water on top of the cheese (which resulted in some rather loud crashing), Mr Farmer stepped in with the Balancing Bucket Cheese Press. The buckets, which are full of bricks, are balanced on a fence paling which sits on a can that is just slightly smaller than the cheese mold.
The Balancing Bag Cheese Press: the indoor, but
 light-weight alternative.

The Balancing Bucket cheese press was excellent, and and made a good job of pressing the cheddar. However, as the fridge began to fill to capacity this year, we were faced with a major problem: the fence paling that had formed such an integral part of last year's cheese press was now firmly attached to a fence. Further, the Balancing Bucket Cheese Press is best suited to outdoor use, partly because of the space it takes up, and partly because of its potential to act as a catapult in the event of an imbalance - but this year's Cheddar Weekend was wet. So, we had to come up with an alternative: the Balancing Bag Cheese Press.

The Balancing Bag Cheese Press comprises two bags, full of cans and bottles of water, hanging off the end of a piece of oak that used to be part of a chair (the oak was thrilled to have avoided becoming firewood). We added a plastic jug with its bottom chopped off to the cheese mold, both because our cheese mold was too small for the volume of curds we had, and because it gave added stability to the press. We thought we had found the solution to our pressing issue, but it soon became clear that the amount of weight we were able to use was going to be limited by our bag size. We were also a little worried that the bags would not be strong enough to carry 23 kg of bricks, cans and water-filled bottles. The other pressing problem was that the Balancing Bag Cheese Press became easily unbalanced, as evidenced by the loud crashes that regularly echoed from the dining room.
The Im-press-ive Cheese Press: suitable for indoor use,
heavy weights, and entire nights without mysterious crashing
sounds echoing from the dining room.

Finally, Mr Farmer stepped in, with the Im-press-ive Cheese Press. The Im-press-ive Cheese Press is constructed from the upside-down base of a chair, and a long board with two holes in it to allow it to slot over two of the legs. The weights sit on (or hang off) the board. The legs of the upside-down chair give added stability to the press - so much so that the 23-kg of weight required to press the cheddar has been sitting quite happily on the press for the last 20 hours (a record time for weights staying where they are meant to be). The bags are full of potatoes, and the bricks (in black plastic bags), bottles of water, and cans sit on top of the press. Despite the existence of (fancier) cheese presses made from materials that were always meant to be part of a cheese press, we think the Im-press-ive Cheese Press is the peak of perfection - thanks, Mr Farmer, for saving the day.


  1. Oy. You probably don't know who Fibber McGee is, but it looks like his closet. :) Well, as long as it gets the job done, who cares what it looks like, right? Well done!

  2. How many times have we heard Mr Farmer say "I gotta get that garage cleaned out one of these days"... But he's right, all that stuff does come in handy, eventually...