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Making Cheese
 
Cheese is the art of combining milk, rennet and culture. Im not an expert by any means of the definition when it comes to making cheese, but I have had success in this area.
Easy Cheeses

The first recipe I made was Queso Blanco (Spanish for White Cheese). It is an extremely easy recipe that yields a nice, soft, white cheese that is excellent by itself or mixed with herbs. Ive also used this in place of ricotta for our lasagna.

 
Queso Blanco Recipe
1 Gallon Whole Milk
1/4 Cup White Vinegar or Lemon Juice or Lime Juice

In a stainless steel pan over medium heat, bring milk to 180F (82C). Be sure to constantly stir the milk so it will not burn (I use a stainless steel whisk.)
Continue stirring milk and slowly add vinegar. The milk will begin to curdle. Continue stirring for 10-15 minutes keeping the temperature at 180F(82C).
Line a colander with a large piece of fine cheesecloth. (The cheesecloth you can get at the store is NOT what you want, the weave is much too large. If you cannot find small weave cheesecloth, use a pillowcase or cotton gauze material.)
Carefully pour the curdles milk through the lined colander. Tie the four corners of the cloth together and hang the bag until it stops dripping. I suspend the bag using two wooden spoons in a stainless steel pot.
You can use as is, salt it or add herbs to it.
Enjoy!

Soft Cheeses

The next step in cheese making is the Soft Cheeses. These use rennet and a culture. More complex steps are taken to make these cheeses.

 
Mozzarella Cheese
I was given this recipe by Barb at Goldenrod Farm. It is easy and delicious! Be sure to save the whey to make a batch of ricotta!

Warm 3 gallons milk to 90F, add 1 1/4th tsp citric acid per gallon of milk and 2 oz of Thermophilic culture for each gallon of milk. Stir well. Add 1/2 tsp rennet to 1/8 cup cool water for each gallon of milk. Add to the milk and stir for 1 minute. Let set for 45 minutes or until the curd gives a clean break. Cut the curds into 1/2" cubes and allow to set for 15 minutes. Drain the curds into a cheese cloth-lined colander. Hang cheesecloth for 1 hour to drain or until it stops dripping. Put the bag in the colander and the colander in the pot with a cover and put in the refrigerator for 24 hours. (this is the developing acidity step that makes the cheese stretch better)

Heat a bowl of water to 170F, take the curds from the cheesecloth and slice in 1" slices. Put the slices in the hot water and allow to melt, using two SS spoons work the curds by pressing them together, knead them in this way until they loose shape. The curds should stretch out when you hold them up under their own weight, stretch them until they become bright and shiny and stretch easily. Make a ball out of the curds and put them in a bowl of ice water to cool. Place in a brine solution for 1 hour or to taste.

 
Ricotta Cheese
Using the whey from the mozzarella or other cheese, warm to 170F (82C). Mix 1/2 tsp rennet with 1/4 cup of cold water and add to whey, stirring constantly. Within 15-20 minutes, small flakes of curds will appear (they will be small like grains of rice). Strain curds through a colander lined with a large, fine weave cloth. Tie the four corners of the cloth together and hang the bag until it stops dripping. I suspend the bag using two wooden spoons in a stainless steel pot. This may take 3-4 hours to drain. The resulting ricotta is very dry and you may want to mix in 1/4-1/2 cup of heavy cream into it at this point.

These next 3 recipes I found on a Countryside webpage using goggle. I have not used any of the the following recipe but am excited to try it out! I cant find the page anymore so Im including the recipes here so I wont lose them again. Soft cheese are the next step in making cheese.

 
Cream Cheese Style Soft Cheese
5 quarts whole milk
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons diluted rennet (dilution is 3 drops of liquid rennet into 1/3 cup of cool water)

Warm the milk to 80F. Stir in the buttermilk, mix well and add the dilute rennet solution. Stir well, cover and allow to set at room temperature for eight to 12 hours. The cheese is ready when it is thick.
Line a large bowl with a cloth and hang to drain for six to eight hours. Draining can be speeded up if you take the bag of curds down and scrape them from the outside of the bag to the center. The cheese is drained when it has stopped dripping and has the consistency of cream cheese. This cheese will freeze for several months. Makes 1-1/2 to 2 pounds.

Note: Cheesecloth won't drain this type of cheese. You must use a muslin-type cheesecloth or case cloth, as I like to call it. Case cloth is simply an old pillow case with the seams opened up to make a large square of cloth. It can be washed out in hot, soapy bleach water and reused until the cloth wears out. Shoelaces will work for hanging the cheese to drain. You can use this cheese as a substitute for cream cheese. We like to mix in herbs and spices and make cheeseballs. Because this cheese is so versatile and easy to make, I recommend it as one of the first cheeses for the beginner.

 
No-rennet Cottage Cheese
1 gallon milk
1 cup cultured buttermilk

Warm the milk to about 95F. Stir in the buttermilk and allow to set at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. The milk will clabber, or become thick.
Cut the curds into 1/2-inch cubes and let rest for 10 minutes. Place the pot into a double boiler-type pot and heat at a very low setting until the curd reaches 115F Stir often to keep the curds from matting together. This will take an hour or more. Note from Cyndi: If you try to rush this step or bring the temperature above 115F you will end up with chewy, rubbery curds even the dogs will turn up their noses at. You want to increase the temperature about 1 every 3 minutes.
The curd is ready when it is somewhat firm on the interior of the cheese. Cook longer if necessary. Some whey will rise to the top. Let the curds settle to the bottom of the pot, drain off the whey and place the curds in a cloth-lined colander to drain. Be gentle, as the curds are rather fragile.
Allow the cheese to drain until it stops dripping. Place in a bowl and add salt to taste. I usually use about one teaspoon of kosher or canning salt per pound. Stir in about four ounces of half-and-half or cream per pound if you like a creamed cottage cheese.

 
Quick cottage cheese
1 gallon milk
1/2 cup cultured buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet
1/4 cup cool water

Warm the milk to 86F. Stir in the buttermilk, mix the rennet into the cool water and add to the warmed milk.Set until it coagulates, usually about an hour.
Cut the curds in 1/2 inch cubes. Heat slowly by the double boiler method until the temperature reaches about 110F.
Hold at this temperature for 30 minutes and stir often but gently to prevent matting. When the curds are firm, place into a cheesecloth-lined colander and let drain for 20 minutes. Lift the curds in the cheesecloth and dip into a pot of cold water. Drain until the curd stops dripping. Place curds in a bowl and add salt and cream if desired.

 
 
Now we come to hard cheeses. These cheeses are pressed, dipped in wax and aged before eating. I have yet to have 2 cheddars come out the same.
 
 
Cheese making supplies:

The Grape & Granary

NE Cheesemaking

Leener's Brew Works
Leener's Brew Works

Hoegger Goat Supply
Hoegger Goat Supply

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