Cheese is one of the world's most loved foods. From macaroni and cheese to fondue, cuisines from every country in the world seem to include some form of this ancient fermented food. It's an unfortunate fact that, as common as cheese is, the good stuff tends to cost a lot of money, making it out of the leagues of people with limited means. Luckily, cheese making is a fine art that can be practiced at home, providing you with a constant supply of this wonderful product. Furthermore, eating your own homemade cheese is considerably more satisfying than paying an exorbitant price for it at the store. Here are some tips for making cheese at home.
Keep it Clean
Sanitary conditions are a critical aspect of the culinary arts, so it's important to take steps to eliminate pathogens on your tools and working surface. If your cheese becomes contaminated by unwanted bacteria or fungi, it can cause the end product to spoil or develop an off taste. Boil your metal utensils and apply undiluted vinegar to the ones that cannot be boiled. You can sterilize your counter top and cutting board with bleach, but take care not to leave any traces behind as it may ruin your cheese.
Get it Together
Getting your tools and work area organized before you start makes the process take less time and go more smoothly. While your utensils are sterilizing, you can lay out your equipment, milk, measuring cups and other necessary tools and ingredients. When you finally lay out your utensils, you should place them on a clean towel to avoid any pathogens that might still be lingering on the counter top. Depending on the type of cheese you'll be making, you can also start combining some of the ingredients.
Make the Time
Although cheese is typically easy to make, it requires a considerable investment of time. Take into account the time it will take to culture your milk, add the cheese making rennet, mix the ingredients and press the final product. For a basic hard cheese, it can take between four and five hours. Many other types of cheese can require nine hours or longer to complete the entire process. Before starting, be sure that you can dedicate the required amount of time to making a good cheese.
If you don't have any prior experience with making cheese, it's strongly recommended that you begin with a basic soft cheese, such as one made from yogurt. Ricotta is another simple soft cheese that requires few ingredients and little time.
If you want truly good cheese, you can't rush things. Like wine, its flavor, texture and aroma continue to evolve and improve as it ages. It's understandable that you'd want to enjoy your cheese right away, but if you allow it to ripen, it will possess far more flavor. It doesn't even take that long. There can be major differences within just a week's time.