For the longest time I’ve been wanting to make cheese, and I finally succeeded in making cheese worthy of sharing. This is a recipe I have used over and over with successful results each time. I’d like to extend a special thank you to Chef John at FoodWishes for inspiring me with his simple how-to. The process of making cheese was a little mysterious until I watched his video, so I wanted to create my own video for visitors to Cryptobrewology.com.
It’s not cheddar, or anything aged, it’s a simple farmer’s cheese similar to ricotta cheese, but the best part about it is that you can experiment with herbs, spices, seasonings and garnishes to make a very tasty, impressive cheese to share with family and friends. As we know, once you get the hang of doing something you often explore other possibilities, so aging is the next step, and I’m working on it. Stay tuned!
Watch this little video to learn how to easily make fresh cheese, and refer to the recipe and instructions below the video for more details as well as serving suggestions and herbs and spices you can use to spice up your cheese. Enjoy making your own homemade cheese!
Most cheese recipes use what is called rennet. In this basic cheese recipe citric acid is responsible for coagulating the milk solids to create the curds, while in other cheeses (mozzarella, cottage cheese, and basic hard cheeses) rennet is used. Rennet is a complex of enzymes that coagulate the milk solids, form a more complete, creamier consistency, and because there is less acidity (little or no additional citric acid) also retain more flavor in the curds. I’m experimenting with cheese using rennet and will follow up with other how-to videos for mozzarella and sharper, hard cheeses in the near future.
1 quart of milk
1 cup of buttermilk
2 TBSP lemon juice (you can sub vinegar, but I’ve always used lemon juice)
Salt to taste (I say 1/4 tsp in the video but that’s not nearly enough for my taste)
You can use low fat, whole milk, or a combination. I do a 50/50 blend so I don’t feel so bad about eating the cheese. Note: Ultra-Pasteurized milk, or reconstituted powdered milk will not work!
You’ll also need a 2 quart pot (or a saucepan large enough to hold 1 quart plus 1 cup of liquid), a colander and pot or bowl to collect the whey after separation, cheesecloth, a measuring cup, a slotted or holey spoon (blessed or non-blessed is fine), and a milk thermometer or one of those handy little kitchen thermometers.
Over medium heat slowly bring the milk up to 175° F, stirring frequently to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom or forming a film on top. It’s going to take a little while so be patient, and have a beer handy. A friend to talk to and pass the time is especially helpful, so invite someone over to have a beer and make cheese with you.
You’ll know when the milk is near the target temperature when you see bubbles start to form around the edge, and you’ll begin to notice a little foamy look. Use your thermometer to check the temp, and when you’ve reached 175° remove the heat. I use an electric range so I actually move my pot to a cold burner because they take a long time to cool down.
Immediately, and thoroughly stir in the 1 cup of buttermilk and the 2 TBSP lemon juice. As you stir in the juice you’ll see the milk begin to curdle before your eyes. There is a chemical reaction occurring as the citric acid in the lemon juice causes milk solids to coagulate, forming the curds.
Stir a bit longer and then let the curds and whey cool a bit. Use your slotted or holey spoon to move the clumping curds into your cheesecloth-lined colander. This will be your cheese. Let the curds drain for about 15 minutes. It helps to form a sack of sorts with the cheesecloth and hang it from a spoon handle over a large pot to drain.
Once it is drained turn the cheese lump out into a bowl and break it apart so you can mix in some salt and other assorted herbs and spices to your liking. Try using rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper or other seasonings.
After you’ve seasoned your cheese you can either press it into a container or two, or return it to the cheesecloth, squeeze out any excess whey and tie it tightly to form a ball. Once your cheese is in your desired form wrap it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or up to a couple of days. Don’t expect this cheese to increase in sharpness like a cheddar, it won’t. As I mentioned earlier, I’m working with various recipes and techniques to create harder cheeses using rennet. So stay tuned and I’ll have it all worked out for you soon enough.
Now have a party, crack some homebrews and let your friends sample your delicious homemade cheese on some crackers or bread. Speaking of bread, I’m working on a homemade bread video as well, so stay tuned for that.
Enjoy your cheesiness, and please share any recipe modifications or seasoning suggestions!