Today…. we will make cheese!
Now that we have found our healthy source of milk, whether you’re using goat’s milk or cow’s milk, we will begin the roughly five hour adventure of cheese making. I toss the five hour thing in there so you don’t start this project at ten o’clock in the evening an then curse me at three a.m.!!!
First thing you want to do is create a double boiler. I use a stock pot with a few wide mouth rings in the bottom. I fill it with water until the stainless steel bucket will fit inside and not overflow water all over the stove. The photo shows two thirteen quart stainless steel pails but you can make your cheese in a single one gallon batch as well. That’s the nice thing about making your own cheese, you can make how ever much you want! Here’s the recipe for a one gallon batch…
1 gal whole milk
¼ tsp MESOPHILIC II Culture
½ rennet tablet dissolved in ¼ cup cool water
½ Tbsp sea salt (or more if desired)
Warm milk to 86 degrees F. Add culture and mix thoroughly. Please understand that whisking ‘bruises’ the milk… gently stir the culture in once’s it has dissolved on top of the milk. Let it ripen at 86 degrees for one hour without disturbing. Covered holds the temperature more steady but isn’t required. While you’re waiting, dissolve the rennet into a 1/4 cup of cool water.
Once the hour is up… add dissolved rennet tablet and gently stir into milk throughout. Let milk set for 30-45 minutes undisturbed or until curd shows a “clean break” (when pressing your sterile tool into the cheese, it should be like breaking into texture like jello).
With long knife, slice through the curds to the bottom in 1 inch sections. Then do the same in the other direction. Once cubed, cut on an angle to not have long one inch strips… but instead cubes to your best ability. Let curd rest for 15 minutes to firm up.
Raise temperature of the curd 2 degrees every 5 minutes until temperature reaches 102 degrees. Stir very gently so curd particles do not mat together and yet aren’t bruised. Hold at 102 degrees for 30 minutes. Gently stir curd. Then let curd set undisturbed for 5 minutes to settle at bottom of pot.
Drain off the whey to level of the curd. Save the whey for baking, fermenting, etc. Add cool tap water until temperature of curd and water reaches 80 degrees. Stir gently while adding the water. Hold curd at 80 degrees for 15 minutes. Stir to keep from matting. (Moisture content of the cheese is controlled by the temperature of the water added… dryer cheese, keep at a few degrees higher than 80 degrees, if moister cheese is desired, keep at few degrees below 80 degrees.)
Pour curds into cheesecloth lined colander. Allow curds to drain 20 minutes.
Place curds into large bowl, add salt, and seasonings/herbs as desired. Mix thoroughly yet gently, breaking curds into thumbnail size pieces.
Place cheese into cheese cloth lined mold. Cover cheese completely with the cloth, placing follower on top. Press with 10-20 lbs pressure for several hours, or until no more whey is being released. (You will have to be creative to find ways to press the cheese with weight, sometimes a small place on top of the follower with hand weights works.)
Flip cheese and press with 8-15 lbs for another 8 hours.
Remove cheese from mold. Remove cheesecloth and place on drying rack to air dry for a day or two, flipping as needed, until a light/dry skin covers cheese. Your cheese is now ready to eat. Store covered in refrigerator. If mold appears on skin of cheese, gently wash it off with salt water soaked cheesecloth.
*If using store bought milk, and you have a hard time forming curds, you can try using a little more rennet, waiting another 15 minutes for curds to form, or obtain some calcium chloride from your local store, to be added when the culture is added.
*If aging is desired, wax and store at 50 degrees for 2-3 months. Turn the cheese daily for first couple days, then at least once a week until eaten.
*Remember, cheese making is an art, not an exact science. Many people change their recipe as they learn, trying different cultures, types of milk, different herbs, etc.
We have many styles of cheese making kits on the web-store… www.homesteadersupply.com
Please feel free to post any questions you have about cheese making or items used for cheese making!!! Look for future blogs on making butter, sour cream and yogurt!!!!!
I hope you enjoy the process of home made cheese as much as I do!!!