Simple step by step instructions on how to make your own cheese at home.
It is not difficult to make cheese. Start simply and build your knowledge of cheesemaking. Within a short while you wil be amazed at the variety and quality of cheese that you make.
Your General Equipment
Your basics are:
- A double boiler – you can use what you have in the kitchen but make sure that the inner pot is stainless steel. The reason that you use a double boiler is the water bath principle. You do not want to scald the milk. If you placed the pot directly on the stove top you would scald the milk.
- Thermometer for temperature control
- Long non-serrated cutting knife – this is used to cut the curd
- Hygienic draining cloth, muslin or chux cloth – for draining the curd
- Stovetop or microwave
- Culture & Rennet and of course your milk
- A basic recipe and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy making your product
Sterilise everything before use. You should have clean working surfaces and equipment including hands. You can sanitise equipment using 12 mililitres bleach to one litre cold water; chlorine based tablets; sanitising liquid for babies bottles; or simply put all equipment through a hot dishwasher.
If you go off and do something else while waiting for curd to set please remember to sanitise your hands before you recommence cheesemaking.
Wear a long apron as cheesemaking can be messy. Hot curd cheese like mozzarella requires stretching so purchase some rubber gloves otherwise you will burn your hands and also watch out for boilding curd and whey landing on your feet. It is not sensible to wear open toed shoes when making cheese. If you want to tie or cover your hair this is also a sensible thing to do.
It is very useful to keep a diary for reference purpose. Make a note of the type of milk used; milk fat content; time taken between each cheesemaking stage and how your curd is turning out; any humidity factor eg sunlight; in fact anything relevant to the cheesemaking process.
All the knowledge that you collect will contribute to your general expertise and make the process much easier the next time round.
Use fresh farm milk if you can as this will give best results. If purchasing milk use full cream pasteurised milk. Homogenized milk because of all the processes that it has gone through does not produce the same rich and tasty cheese. Skim milk can be used but frequently to obtain a firmer, richer curd you will have to add in some cream. Soy milk, UHT and Long life milk can produce cheese that does not require rennet. You can also use other milk types such as almond milk, cocnut milk.
If you would like to use raw milk then check out http://www.facebook.com/FindRawMilk. Or you can contact the Weston A Price Foundation at www.frot.co.nz/wapf/wellington.htm. Weston A Price maintains eleven chapters in NZ and through one of their local chapters it is quite possible that you will find a local source of milk. This keeps your costs down and the milk is delicious.
You can pasteurize milk in one of the following ways:
- heat to 61degC and hold for 30 minutes
- heat to 68degC and hold for one minute
- heat to 72degC and hold for 15 seconds
Culture contains the necessary bacteria to make cheese and comes in various styles
- mesophilic culture which heats to a general temperature level of 38degC and makes a wide range of general cheeses such as soft cream cheese, cheddar, feta, gouda, edam etc.
- thermophilic culture which heats to a much higher temperature level and makes a wide range of cooked cheese such as mozzarella, parmesan, pecorina etc. It is also suitable for making yoghurt.
- There are other culture combinations that produce distinct types and tastes of cheese and yoghurt and when you have reached this stage please contact us and we will be happy to advise you.
- vegan cultures – these are cultures prepared on a non lactic base but are suitable for both use with non lactic milk and lactic milk
- protective cultures which have been developed to prevent infiltration of unwanted bacteria, yeasts and molds and can be applied with generic probiotic products such as fermented milk products, feed and also pharmaceutical purposes
- culture dvs means direct vat set culture. This culture is freeze dried culture granules which can either be added directly to your milk or diluted with cool, boiled water and then added to the milk.
Rennet is used to coagulate and set milk. Two forms are available. Plant based vegetarian rennet or rennet obtained from calf enzymes.
Step by Step Cheesemaking
Follow the different steps in your cheesemaking recipe and be very careful about temperature control.
Additives for cheesemaking
- Calcium chloride – If your curd is not “firming up” and this can happen if you have used homogenized, long life or UHT milk. You can add in some calcium chloride which boosts the calcium content of the milk and helps to produce a firmer, tighter curd.
- Lipase – Some cheese such as feta and many Italian cheeses benefit from a pinch of lipse which gives the “twang” to the cheese.
- Annatto colouring – Annatto is a food colouring ingredient. To produce similar colour in your cheese you can add a dash of turmeric or if you an afford it saffron.
- Natajen – If you are having problems with unwanted mold growth on a semi hard or hard cheese we would suggest the use of Natajen which has been proven to inhibit mold growth prior to coating or waxing cheese.
- Ash is derived from heating natural timber to a very high temperature and is used traditionally to coat the exterior of cheese such as Chevre, St Maure. Applying ash to your cheese reduces acidity and decreases moisture apart from adding a zing to the taste.
- Specialty cultures eg penicillin candidium, geotrichum candidium, brevibacterium linens, penicillin roqueforti, “eyes” and other specialty cultures provide the unique taste in different styles of cheese – the melting taste of Brie or Camembert, the ping of Stilton or Roquefort, the zing of Manchego – the list goes on and nowadays you can make and indeed develop your own specialty cheese!
Having absorbed all that general information why not start with a very simple cheese to give you confidence and also enjoy.
Recipe: Ricotta made from full cream pasteurised milk
You can make Ricotta from whey when making other general cheese. This Ricotta recipe uses full cream pasteurised milk and will give almost one – two kilograms of cheese from 10 litres milk. Goat, sheep and cow’s milk can all be used
Heat 10 litres milk to 90-95degC stirring continuously. Smaller quantities can be microwaved.
As the milk reaches its required temperature level quickly add half cup white vinegar. Stir gently. The milk will then coagulate.
Transfer the curd to a muslin or chux cloth lined sieve or colander and drain for five minutes.
Transfer the curd to a mixing bowl and add in a little salt and butter if desired.
Refrigerate until ready to use
We pride ourselves in stocking quality ingredients and take the same attitude when providing support and advice.
If you have problems or are confused please contact us and we will be pleased to help
We want to see you become an enthusiastic home cheesemaker!