Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cheese making

So I've decided to try my hand at making cheese. So far I've made some ricotta, some cottage cheese and now I've got a block of farmhouse cheddar in a rigged up press. This cheese making page contains most of the info that you need to get started. I highly recommend it. One thing that isn't mentioned on that site is how to make a homemade mesophilic starter. It's pretty simple. Just get a small container of real buttermilk. Let it sit out overnight. Once it reaches the consistency of yogurt pour it into an ice tray and toss the tray in the freezer.

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After the cubes freeze you can dump them into a freezer bag. They'll last for at least a month or so.

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The only other special ingredients you need for most cheese recipes are milk and rennet. I picked up a small bottle of liquid rennet from a local homebrew store for $6.50. Junket Rennet tablets
are available from Amazon. They're cheaper up front but you don't get as much as you get from a bottle and I've heard that they don't work as well as liquid. It probably doesn't matter.

Anyway, here's my press. I ripped off the idea from the link that I posted above. He describes the whole basic cheese making process so well that it would be a waste of time for me to repost everything. So far so good. I made this first batch out of 1 gallon of store bought vitamin D milk. I should end up with a 1 lb block or so. It's firming up nicely.

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This is my second attempt at a hard cheese. The first try was a mess. Don't start with cheesecloth when you start pressing. Until the cheese gets relatively dry and firm you'll want to use a handkerchief or an old cotton tshirt. They hold everything together better and they absorb the excess way quite nicely. Switch to cheesecloth when it's a solid block. Once it's finished I'll be sure to post a pic.