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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Women rather than men usually performed the dairying on farms in the 18th and 19th centuries. When summer heat often soured milk before cream could rise and be collected for making butter, cheese was made instead. The cheesemaker used rennet to separate the fresh milk into curds and whey. She then strained out the whey from the curds and packed the curds in a wooden hoop. This cheese press "pressed" out the remaining whey from the curds to form a firm cheese. The dairywoman removed the cheese after about two days and rubbed lard on it to help it form an airtight rind. The cheeses lasted a while but grew firmer in texture and shrper in flavor as they aged. Most people consume their chees within a year. They were an excellent trade item. Local storekeepers purchased large quantities of local cheese and sold it to traders who took it to cities or even as far away as the West Indies. The hoop and follower are missing from this press.
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