The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tips for Making Cheese at Home

jacksonwalker's picture
jacksonwalker

Tips for Making Cheese at Home

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.

Start Small

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.

Have Patience

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.

Comments

Wingnut's picture
Wingnut

I have been thinking about this for a while now. Any formulas you would like to share?

 

Wingnut

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I am halfway decent on bread. I make my own yogurt (villis,actually). I ferment vegetables. I make kefir. Cheese is the next logical step for me as I don't care for beer.

Please share some ideas or links! It would go great with my whole grain bread and home made jam with a side of kvass or juice kefir.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Clazar123,

Here are 2 sites that sell cultures for cheeses plus cheese making supplies.  I began making soft cheeses a couple of months ago and now give them to people I bake for.  Fun and easy to do because you don't really need more than direct set culture packets plus milk, cream and butter muslin.  If you get into this New England Cheesemaking butter muslin is the best I have run across.  ( I got started by making cream cheese that didn't have to be cooked.  Just room temp. and time - like the villi yogurt you make if it is the same one I make)

http://www.cheesemaking.com

http://www.culturesforhealth.com

I don't think I will get into hard cheeses.  Too much equipment that can get really pricey really quickly.

Janet

asicign's picture
asicign

I started making cheese about a year ago... and gave up about six months ago.  It's very rewarding, but very time-consuming.  I would advise not getting started if one of the main reasons for doing so is to save money on cheese.

linder's picture
linder

Visit the Cheese Queen's website at http://www.cheesemaking.com for some great hints, tips and recipes.  There also is a cheese forum at http://www.cheeseforum.org where cheese enthusiasts discuss all items cheesy just like this website does for bread.

Best hint/tip -sanitize, sanitize, sanitize, keep things scrupulously clean when making cheese.  If you are aging hard cheeses, a cheese 'cave' (small dorm size fridge or wine keeper) is very helpful to have.

Enjoy

Linda

Wingnut's picture
Wingnut

Thanks for the links!

Cheers,

Winbnut

linder's picture
linder

http://www.littlegreencheese.com is a good site too.  Gavin Webber has some good recipes, hints and tips.  His recipe for Romano makes a very nice block of grating cheese.

Linda

judyinnm's picture
judyinnm

Do NOT throw out the whey. Make ricotta and then: Use it in sour dough starter. Spray it on plants to prevent or kill 'powdery mildew" on grapes or other plants. Or feed it to chickens. Or, even drink it - healthful.

linder's picture
linder

However, you  can really only use the whey to make ricotta if you are making hard cheeses(cheddar, parmesan, romano, mozzarella the traditional way (not the 30 min mozz)) that use either a mesophilic or thermophilic culture. If you make cheese using any acid (citric, lemon juice, white vinegar) the resulting whey will not yield ricotta.

You can also use whey as a substitute for water in your breads - makes a fluffier loaf.

Linda

grind's picture
grind

You can also use whey to make sour krout.