Thursday, August 22, 2013

making cheese.

Since ending school and starting my new routine with work, home life, etc I now feel like I have time for some of the things I have always wanted to making cheese! I am super into the homesteading thing. Not in like the long skirt and waist length braided hair kind of way or the doomsday prepper sort of way, but I just love making things from scratch and seeing how easy things are to make myself.

***I understand that this is not REAL mozzarella cheese...not its no buffalo milk, not I'm not in Italy, this is simply fresh, DIY, mozzarella-esque cheese for all the haters out there.***

Disclaimer before we begin: These were all taken on my phone and my kitchen has terrible lighting! So I apologize in advance for the weird pictures...I was in a cheese making frenzy!!

Ok so gather your supplies, you need some specialty items like rennet tablets and citric acid so plan accordingly! The citric acid is pretty standard in grocery stores, but I really had to search for rennet!


  1. Large pot, no cask iron or chipped enamel. 
  2. Cheese cloth and/or colander (mesh preferably)
  3. Large bowl and 2 smaller bowls
  4. dairy thermometer, it can't be a candy therm because it has to register low enough for 80 degrees and up
  5. 1 gallon NON ultra-pasteurized this is very important. Cheese needs live cultures, pasteurizing kills most of the good cheese making cultures. Fresh milk if possible like if you live on a farm. : )
  6. 1 tablet rennet
  7. 1 tsp plus 1/2 tsp of citric acid
  8. 1 C plus 1/4 C cold water
  9. 1/4 tsp cheese salt, or regular salt! 
First things first cut your cheese cloth to your desired length, I did a sheet long enough to double up over my large bowl and hang generously over the sides.

*Dissolve tablet of rennet in 1/4 C cold water - set aside*

*Dissolve citric acid in 1 C cold water - set aside*

 Pour milk into a large pot and heat on medium low until the thermometer registers at 85 degree F

At this point add the citric acid and stir with slotted spoon or whisk for 20 seconds, it will begin to curd. Be very gentle with the curds or you will end up with a very hard fresh cheese.

Continue to heat the milk until it registers at 100 degrees F. At this point stir in the rennet and stir with a slotted spoon or whisk in an up and down motion (instead of a typical around the pot stir) for 30 seconds.

Continue to heat the milk until it reaches 105 degree F, at this point turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the cheese rest/sit in the covered pot for 10 minutes. At this point it will look pretty gross and like nothing you would ever want to eat or drink...thats ok!

 At the end of 10 minutes open the lid and you will see the curds (the white chunky stuff) starting to separate from the whey (the yellowish liquid). To test readiness lightly press on the top of the curd with the back of your stirring spoon, it if leaves an indent it is ready, if not leave and cover for 2 more minutes.

It might look like this...

At this point it is time to separate the curds from the whey. Using a slotted spoon GENTLY retrieve the curds from the pot allowing the whey to drain out before transferring to a cheese cloth or colander covered bowl. Do this until all the curds are in the bowl (you may need to periodically pick up the cheese cloth or colander and toss the excess whey down the sink)

When all the curds have been transferred leave the curds alone and allow the whey to drain until there is nothing dripping out, this will take a few minutes. At this point transfer the curds from the cheesecloth or colander to a microwaveable bowl.

Microwave the curds for 1 minute. Take the curds out and drain off the whey that collects. 

The curds will be very hot so toss on some gloves if you so desire and mix the curds with your hands, gently pushing the liquid whey out.
Repeat this microwave/mixing/straining cycle two more times microwaving at 30 seconds.

Now it is time to stretch and salt the dough. After the 3 microwave sessions (1 one min and 2 thirty sec) knead the dough until it is formed and slightly shiny. 
(microwave in 30 second intervals if it is not coming together and the curds are separating)

After kneading stretch the cheese a couple times and ball it back up and add the salt, the cheese must be like 135 degrees to stretch properly so microwave at 30 second intervals until it stretches properly. At this point pull it tight across the top and pinch the edges underneath to create that shiny mozzarella cheese look! 

You did it! : )

Making Ricotta
Ricotta is basically what occurs after draining the curds and before microwaving and kneading them.
So to make fresh ricotta just follow the directions above up until after you strain the curds...add salt and store in an air tight container in the fridge for I don't know...a week? Until it starts to smell? Haha

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