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Ceramic Cheese Molds

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All right, a strange question here because I'm not finding anything in searches on this group.  I'm interested in home cheese making and traditionally molds were often made of wood or ceramics.  If you ever do home cheese making you know the plastic molds for hard cheeses that have to be able to go under a press and under a 100lbs or so of pressure have to be strong.  They can't be flimsy, and even buying them in heavy duty plastics isn't cheap.   Or you can make your own - but they are ugly.  They also need to be easy to clean and food safe.  So I looked up making old fashioned cheese molds using ceramics like stoneware and porcelain - glazed or unglazed.

Now I'm not a potter who uses a wheel to throw.  Love to do that some day but I'm a sculptor who makes molds and does slip casting.  I'd like to know if any of you have made cheese molds before?  Have you actually /used/ them yourself or know people who do, with more than 50 lbs pressure.?  If anyone here has made cheese molds, or knows a good website about making them,  I'd love to know.  I've found a few websites about making them but not as much as I'd like.  Thanks!

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I actually did get asked to modify a berry bowl design a few years ago for someone who was making soft cheese. She wrote me back and told me they worked out just fine, but I haven’t had a lot of call for them afterwards. I can’t remember now if she was using a press or weights.

After she’d commissioned me, I happened to stumble across some antique ones in an architectural salvage shop, so they made a really good reference. It was really helpful to be able to hold them and get an idea of thickness and other things. The forms themselves were very homey/homely, and sturdy, but not unusually heavy. Very homestead/farm/Medalta crockery feel, very like the ones that come up in google for ceramic cheese mould search terms. The ones I held were cylindrical, with four vertical rows of holes on the sides, with the pattern extended through the bottom of the pot to the centre. There was some variation in hole patterns, but they were more sparse than what I’d do for a berry bowl.  The rims were rounded/beefed up a bit to resist chipping. There was a slight foot rim to allow whey drainage, but it was very minimal, like what you see on the bottom of a commercial coffee mug. 

When I went looking for blogs on cheese making, the presses they were selling seemed to have the same kind of moulds as for soft cheese processes, so I don’t get the sense the considerations are a lot different for making hard vs soft cheese.

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Thank you - about what I've found so far in my research as well.  The ones that were used with presses appear a lot like outdoor flower pots - modestly thick walled.  The French designs particularly tend to have just a few holes lined up the sides and holes in the bottom for draining the whey.   My favorites have more holes but smaller.  Again, like you, judging from antique examples.  Seems the clay types ranged anywhere from glazed terracotta to stoneware but I haven't found any made of porcelain except for modern examples - which are few and far between.

Based on that, I did inspire a couple of potter friends to try making some to test.  I will also try making a plaster mold to slip cast my own and see what comes of it.  Just a little side project that seems like it might be interesting and quite different from my more usual work.

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  • 1 month later...

And here I thought I was the only one! 

I made several molds a few years ago, and still use them. They’re open ended cylinders made from slabs, then a bunch of holes cut into them. About 1/4 inch thick, maybe slightly thicker. Sturdy.  Like you guys, I looked at pictures of antiques for direction.  

I usually make brie, but I did try them in a press a couple times with no problems. I will suggest taking care to make the holes big enough (1/8” drill bit worked well for me) and cleaning the glaze out of them before firing. 

I’m positive handmade ceramic molds make the cheese taste better. :)

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