Have you ever had something you’ve been saying you were going to do for years and finally got around to it? Well cheese making is my thing. And in the process of conquering this “goal” I found that making cheese isn’t as difficult as it looks! I had purchased a DIY cheese kit, but put off pulling the trigger for quite some time. On my first go around, I decided to be “health conscious” and use fat free milk. Boy, was I mistaken. You must ensure that you use high quality, full fat milk for best results. I started off making simple farmer’s cheese, but the world is your oyster! Mozzerella, goat, etc. Farmer’s cheese is akin to ricotta and I enjoyed mine atop in-season tomatoes, basil, quality EVOO, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Instructions are below!
- 1/2 gallon milk
- 1 teaspoon citric acid
- 1/2 cup drinking water
- 1 teaspoon cheese salt (+/- to taste)
- Large non-reactive pot (at least 3 quart)
- Fine cheesecloth
- Large slotted spoon
- Large heat-resistant bowl to keep whey
1. Rinse the cheesecloth and place it as a lining in a colander; put the colander over a large bowl if you plan on keeping the whey
2. Mix 1 teaspoon of citric acid with drinking water and let dissolve; set aside
3. Heat the milk in your pot at media heat. I didn’t use a thermometer, so the key is to watch the pot while stirring slowly. Once it gets just slightly foamy and has that smell of warm milk (remember from when you were a kid?) then that’s the right temperature
4. Drizzle in the acid water and stir quickly to ensure that all acid is thoroughly mixed into the milk. You will then begin to see clear separation between the curds (white clumps) and the whey (yellowish liquid). Allow the curds to cook this way for a full minute, then turn off the heat.
5. Carefully spook the curds into the cloth (catch the whey if you want to save it for later use) and allow most of the way to drain from your curds. Then mix in 1 tsp of salt, cracked pepper, chopped herbs, anything else that strikes your fancy! I’ve made one batch plain and another with mushroom salts I made and some Italian herbs.
Voila! There you have it. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them how easy it is to make cheese. Of course, like everything there’s always a period of trial and error, but that’s part of the fun. The whey is okay to be frozen for later use and I have a lot of it, so I’d welcome your suggestions on whey usage. I’ve heard braising meat in it is delicious. Molto bene!