Colby Cheese Recipe

Colby cheese is a washed-curd cheese aged for a short period of time, but learning how to make Colby cheese is a skill sure to last throughout the ages.

From "A Cheesemaker's Journey"
April 2014

  • When learning how to make Colby Cheese, it is not necessary, but it is traditional, to color it yellow.
    Photo courtesy Hoegger Supply, Inc.
  • "A Cheesemaker’s Journey" is intended to be just that — a journey. Based on 35 years of experience making cheese, teaching classes across the country, and working with other cheesemakers, Mary Jane Toth makes it easy to be successful making cheese in your own home.
    Cover courtesy Hoegger Supply, Inc.

Yield: 1 Block of Colby Cheese

Mary Jane Toth provides a clear and simple welcome into the wonderful world of cheesemaking at home in A Cheesemaker's Journey (Hoegger Supply, Inc., 2012). All kinds of milk can be used for all of the 50+ recipes that can be made, and more importantly enjoyed, by experts and amateurs alike. The following excerpt shows how to make Colby cheese.

Buy this book from our bookstore: A Cheesemaker's Journey.

More from A Cheesemaker's Journey

Cheesemaking: The Basics
How to Make Parmesan Cheese
Ricotta Cheese Recipe
Garlic Cheese Recipe With Chives

How to Make Colby Cheese

Colby is one of the few cheeses that’s considered truly American. It was developed in the late 1800s and named after the town where it was created. Colby, Wisconsin, still celebrates the creation of its namesake cheese to this day. Colby is a very mild, semi-hard cheese often compared to Cheddar, but the two are distinctly different. Colby is a washed-curd cheese aged for a short period of time and with a softer and creamier texture than Cheddar. It makes a great table cheese and is often mixed with Monterey Jack. I do not color my cheese, but Colby is traditionally colored yellow.


Cheese vat or stainless pot (2 gallon)
Long, slotted spoon
Long knife
Cheesecloths (3)
Cheese press
Cheese wax


2 gallons whole milk
1/8 teaspoon DVI Mesophilic Culture
1 teaspoon liquid rennet or 1/4 tablet plus 1/4 cup of cool water
3 teaspoons cheese salt
1/8 teaspoon cheese coloring plus 1/4 cup cool water (optional)
Cool tap water
Calcium Chloride if using store-bought milk


Warm milk to 86 degrees Fahrenheit in vat or pot. Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon DVI Mesophilic Culture over the milk, stir well with long, slotted spoon, and let sit to ripen for 45 minutes. Keep the curds at 86 degrees by putting the pot in a sink of warm water or using a stove-top cheese vat.

Optional: Add cheese coloring by mixing 1/8 teaspoon cheese color with 1/4 cup cool water and stir both into the milk.

Place 1 teaspoon liquid rennet into 1/2 cup cool water. Stir this combination into the milk mixture. Cover and allow milk to sit for 1 hour to coagulate the curds. Keep the curds at 86 degrees during this time.

After 1 hour, the curds should be firm enough to cut.

Cut into 1/2-inch cubes with the long knife, and let rest for 10 minutes. Slowly bring the curds up to 100 degrees by adding hot water to the sink or applying heat to your stove-top cheese vat. Once the curds have reached 100 degrees, hold at this temperature for 30 minutes. Gently stir every 5 minutes to shrink the curds and keep from matting (sticking) together. The curds should be firm to the touch and no longer have a custard-like interior.

Drain off the whey to the point where the curd just shows. Stir curds while adding cool tap water until the temperature of the curds is 80 degrees. When the curds have reached that temperature, maintain it for 20 minutes. Stir often to keep the curds from matting (sticking) together.

Drain the curds in a cloth-lined colander for 20 minutes. Place back in the pot and stir in 3 teaspoons of cheese salt. Mix well, and then scoop the curds into a cloth-lined cheese press. Fold over the extra cheesecloth, place a follower on top, and press the cheese at 20 lbs. pressure for 30 minutes.

Remove from the press, and turn over onto a clean cloth. Put the curds back into the press, and press at 30 lbs. pressure for 30 minutes.

Remove from the press, turn over again, redress, and press overnight at 30 lbs. pressure.

Remove from the press and let the cheese air dry for several days, or until the cheese feels dry to the touch. Turn often so that all sides of the cheese are exposed to the air. Wax the outside of the cheese by dipping several times into hot wax, until you have built up 5 to 7 layers. Age at 50-60 degrees for 2 to 3 months. Turn the cheese several times each week during the aging process.

Reprinted with permission from A Cheesemaker's Journey: A practice guide to beginning and improving cheesemaking at home written by Mary Jane Toth and published by Hoegger Supply, Inc., 2012.

Subscribe today

Capper's FarmerWant to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $22.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me