Making homemade cheese can be a fun and delicious hobby.
Forget about the “processed cheese product” stuff that you can buy at the store, homemade cheese is healthier for you and it tastes great. Learning how to make homemade cheese can be a great skill to learn that will provide you with some of the best tasting cheese that you can get. Making homemade cheese at is a simple process that needs only a few ingredients and some time.
The main ingredient in cheese is milk. The best milk to use is raw milk; however it can take up to several months using raw milk in order to kill all of the pathogens that might be in the milk. Pasteurized milk can also be used, but it is sometimes necessary to add some calcium chloride to the milk to help aid in the coagulation and help form curds which will not fall apart when it is stirred.
Powdered milk and ultra-pasteurized milk is nearly useless to make homemade cheese with. The taste usually isn’t very good, and it is a lot harder to make cheese with these types of milk. As a general rule, one gallon of milk will make one to two pounds of homemade cheese.
Bacteria is the next cheese ingredient on the list. Bacteria makes the milk acid which is needed so that the rennet will work. The type of bacteria used will determine what kind of cheese is produced. Rennet is an enzyme that causes the milk to solidify forming the curds.
The first step is to put the milk in a sterilized pot and let it warm up to the air temperature. Do this the night before and mix in the bacteria once the milk has reached the air temperature, around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the milk and bacteria solution to work its magic overnight. If you don’t have any bacteria then you can use three teaspoons of buttermilk or a third of a cup of yogurt to the milk.
It is also possible to use vinegar or citrus juice, such as lemon or orange juice, to change the ph of the milk if you don’t have any bacteria, yogurt or buttermilk. If you choose to use the vinegar or citrus juice then you don’t have to wait overnight.
During this stage do not use aluminum pots. The reason is because the acidic environment will dissolve some of the aluminum. This will result in the homemade cheese becoming contaminated with the heavy metal aluminum.
On the next day when you are ready start by heating the milk to around 85 degrees Fahrenheit taking care not to burn it. During this step, dissolve the ¼ rennet tablet to ¼ cup water.
Once the milk has reached 85 degrees, remove it from the heat and add the rennet. Stir in the rennet well and add a lid to the pot and leave it alone for at least one hour. During this time be careful not to disturb the mixture.
After an hour, check for a clean break. This is done by gently pressing your finger into the gelled milk and removing your finger. If the gel is solid enough to break cleanly when you lift your finger then you are ready to go to the next step.
If you do not get a clean break, put the lid back on and continue to wait another 30 minutes. Repeat this until you get a clean break. Be patient during this process since it can take 12 hours to get a clean break. If you have not achieved a clean break by that time, then it is unlikely that you ever will.
Now it is time to cut the curds into cubes. This is done by taking a long knife and slicing the curds length ways into half-inch slices. Then turn the pot 90 degrees and slice the curds again.
Next begin to heat the curds again. Heating the curds to 92 degrees will result in softer curd cheese, while heating the curds to 102 degrees will result in harder curd cheese.
While you are heating the curds stir them with your bare hands cutting the bigger curd chunks into smaller ½ inch chunks. Continue to stir for 15 minutes to prevent the curds from sticking together.
Once the curds have reached the consistency of scrambled eggs it is time to separate the curds from the whey. The curds should sink in the whey. If they float instead it could be a sign of contamination. If this happens, it could still be possible to salvage the homemade cheese, just make sure that you allow it to age for at least two months. This should be long enough to kill any unwanted
Pour off the whey and add two teaspoons of salt to the curds. Stir the salt into the curds with your hands. This will help keep the curds from spoiling.
It is now time to press the cheese. Take some cheesecloth or a large clean white handkerchief and place the still warm curds into the cheesecloth or handkerchief.
Take a tin can that is roughly four inches in diameter and around five inches long and remove both ends. Now put the wrapped curds into the tin can and put a heavy weight on the curds and let it sit for around 12 hours.
After 12 hours remove the cheese from the press and rub the cheese with a layer of salt. Next wrap a fresh, clean cloth around the cheese and place it into the fridge. Replace the cloth daily as long as it continues to get wet.
Once the cloth stops getting wet and a dry yellowish rind forms, dip the cheese into some wax and store in the refrigerator for at least one month. The longer that you store the homemade cheese the sharper it will become.