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Making cheese is much less complicated than you may think. With so many ways of turning milk into cheese, it is difficult to be disappointed in the outcome. Serving your family homemade cheese without all the preservatives of commercial brands is a healthful alternative. Not to mention the fun you will have experimenting with this scientific craft.
Begin by gathering what you will need to make cheese. This will include, a 4 to 5 gallon stainless steel pan, a 6 to 8 gallon pot (this will be used as the bottom part of a double boiler type set up), a stainless steel colander, a cheese hoop, a dairy thermometer, a stainless steel ladle, a long sharp knife, several yards of cheese cloth, cheese press, one gallon pasteurized milk, 1 cup preservative free, unpasteurized, cultured buttermilk, 3 tablespoons salt, paraffin and rennet tablets. One gallon of milk will make approximately two pounds of cheese. After this has been successfully processed into cheese, you may want to try for larger amounts.
Set the milk out until it reaches room temperature and then heat to 86 degrees. Stir in buttermilk and allow to sit for 30 minutes. This will produce a mild cheese. If you want a sharper cheese allow to sit for around 3 hours. Next, add the rennet. One-eighth tablet will produce a basic hard cheese. Dissolve rennet in approximately 30 times its volume of water before adding to milk. Stir thoroughly and place in a warm location where it will not be disturbed.
When a thin layer of whey appears on the top (usually about 45 minutes) with firm custard like curds below whey, cut curds into even sized cubes. It is important to do this immediately when the curds have formed since they will begin to deteriorate. For a moist cheese cut curd into 1\2 inch cubes. Smaller cubes will produce a dry cheese. Gently mix curds for 10 minutes making sure not to crush them. Slowly heat this mixture until the curds are slightly firm but do not stick together. Pour curds into cheese cloth laid over colander to strain off whey and add 3 tablespoons salt mixing evenly. With curds still in cheesecloth place into mold and gently press into shape. Use enough pressure to remove any excess air from the curds. With this is done, place entire mold in a cheese press and apply gentle pressure for about 2 hours. Increase weight and turn cheese for approximately the next 12 hours. Dry cheese for no less than 4 days and then dip into paraffin to prevent mold.
From time to time, soft fresh cheese may need spices to keep it from tasting bland. Dill, parsley, pepper, garlic, cumin or lemon can be added to the cheese for a variety of flavors. These spices should be added at the same time you add salt to curds.