Hi all, I did a quick search and apart from Carter's beautiful followers I didn't see too much about this.
I'm wondering about making a follower either by pouring paraffin wax into my mold (6" PVC pipe) or possibly even using something like plaster.
Plaster is a bit more bridle and it would soak up moisture, however I would cover the plaster with a layer (or two) of plastic wrap to keep it clean. The nice thing is I could make the follower as thick as possible. And a plaster follower would be easy to mold, just coat the inside of my mold with some vasoline, pour the plaster, wait for it to set, and pull it out!
1) This has been talked about before (again by Carter I think), but I didn't get a clear answer. The question: should I drill weep holes in my mold? I have a basically unlimited supply of cheap (basically free) 6" diameter PVC pipe, and I know I can make a few molds some with and some without weep holes, but I'm still curious. I know that harder cheeses perhaps don't require weeping holes, but is a 6" virgin PVC pipe really an acceptable mold for hard cheeses?
2) for pressing, is it acceptable to just put the mold on a pie pan (or other flat surface) for the pressing? I worry that a flat surface will cause the liquid to just be pressed into itself. For the first few cheeses I made (failures, basically) I used a slightly convex surface (lid of a pan) to press the cheese into, so that liquid would flow out of the mold and down the lid into the pan. I worry about a flat surface.
3) for my first cheeses I used a handkerchief inside of my mold in place of cheese cloth. This was very frustrating because the handkerchief bunched up in various places and left creases on the sides and lopsided tops to the cheese. Not pretty (see image). I know that I can use muslin or butter muslin or chese cloth, or even a paint can strainer, but it seems like even these finer and less bulky cloths would still bunch up on top/below the cheese. How do I avoid this? Do you put the follower directly on the curds, or? I'd love to just do away with the cloth in the mold (with a mold without weeping holes), but I read somewhere (here) that the cloth helps with the knitting...
Thanks for the advice everybody!