October 10, 2012

Cheese #11, The Recipe

This blog post is for those of you who were interested in how I made Cheese #11, my first repeatable cheese. For those of you who didn't read that post, that means that from last summer's beginning cheese making efforts, number 11 was the first one I want to try to make again. I've taken plenty of pictures, will give you the original recipe, as well as my variations. The recipe is based on the hard cheese instructions from The Little House Cookbook, by Barbara M. Walker.

Ingredients for Cheese #11

Ingredients for the cheese:
  • 1.5 gallons (6 quarts) of raw, whole, goats milk
  • 2 cups whey. This was from a previous batch of mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp. whole milk yogurt (homemade from goat milk)
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid rennet dissolved in 1/4 C. *water
  • salt (I used 1.5 teaspoons, which is a scant amount I think)
[NOTE: Ultrapasteurized milk does not work for making cheese. The protein molecules have been altered and are about useless for anything other than extended shelf life. If using boughten milk, you either need raw or regular (not ultra) pasteurized.]

Ingredients for the brine: (prepared ahead of time. Can be reused.)
  • 1/2 gallon whey
  • 1/2 gallon *water
  • 1 pound salt
*We have city water so I filter ours for drinking and cooking. Rennet in particular, does not work well with chlorinated water. If needs must, tap water can be allowed to sit for 24 hours, to evaporate the chlorine.

1. Ripen the milk. Mix yogurt with whey and blend thoroughly in milk. Heat slowly, over about half an hour, until it is wrist temperature (88 - 90° / 31 - 32° C).

A skimmer like this one is my favorite cheese making tool. I pour the rennet
through the holes, which helps disperse it thoroughly and quickly.

The object here is to lower the pH of the milk, i.e. acidify it a bit. I'm using whey and yogurt as my culture, but buttermilk could be used too. Technical cheese makers use thermophilic, mesophilic, chevre, feta, etc., cheese cultures. They might also use a pH testing kit or pH meter.

2. Set the milk. Mix the rennet solution and add to the milk. Stir for 2 minutes, to make sure it is well mixed. Remove spoon and allow to set, about 30 minutes. When the milk is set, you will get a "clean break" in the curds when you insert a knife.

"Clean break" is when a clean cut can be made in the curds with a knife.

3. Cut the curd. I use a long knife to cut the curd. It's supposed to be cut into one inch cubes. Ha.

The curd is cut at an angle like this, to hopefully get 1 inch cubes of curd

4. Heat the curd slowly (over 30 minutes) to 105° F / 40° C. It will be hot on the wrist. This is sometimes referred to as "cooking" the curd.

The curd tends to clump & stick together during
heating, so it must be stirred gently but continually.

Allow to sit for about an hour, or until the curds are "squeaky" when chewed. This is the step I forgot when I made cheese #11, so I skipped it this time around too.

5. Drain the whey with a colander lined with cheesecloth. There will be a lot of it.

Whey leftover from making the cheese.  See below for what I do with it.

The two half-gallon jars on the left are filled with whey first drained from the curds. The jar on the right is whiter; it includes about a cup of whey squeezed out by the press. (Looks like it contains some of the cream as well. The cream will rise to the top of this jar, and I will skim that and save for making butter.)

6. Salt the curds. Just mix in the salt with your hands.

Mixing in the salt. The cheese will resemble cottage cheese at this point.

7. Mold & Press the cheese. I do not have a cheese press proper. What I do have is a tincture press (originally a wine press) that I thought I could adapt with a cheese mold and follower from a cheese making company. After experimenting, I would not recommend it, and I have added a real cheese press to my wish list.

Tincture press, cheesecloth, cheese mold & follower

Line the mold with cheesecloth. The cheap kind from the discount or fabric store does not work. It's too flimsy and open. Real cheese makers cheese cloth (aka butter muslin) works much better, and lasts longer. It can be washed, bleached, and re-used.

Because it's a tincture press, it has a spout for draining the tincture.
To get the remaining whey to drain, I have to tip the press like this.

Pressure should be fairly light for the first time. If not, the soft cheese is squished through the cheesecloth, making it difficult to remove and keep clean. The cheese is removed from the press and cheesecloth every half hour or so to turn. This helps to keep the cheesecloth from sticking to the cheese. Pressure can be increased after each turn. Technical cheese makers sometimes use a pressure regulator.

Once out of the press I weigh it for my records.

I weigh each cheese fresh out of the press.
I will weigh again after it has developed it's rind.

This cheese looks pretty uniform. Often they are lopsided because of my rigged cheese press. You can see it weighs 2 pounds, 2.2 ounces out of the press. The original Cheese #11 weighed 1 pound 14 ounces, though I'm not sure why the difference. Last year I used Nubian milk, this year it's Nigerian Dwarf milk. Could breed make that big a difference???

Dress the Cheese. At this point, the Little House Cookbook instructs to dress the cheese by trimming, dipping in hot water, and smoothing with a knife. Since I didn't include this in my notes, I didn't think to do it. Smoothing the cheese does make it easier to dry and wax however.

8. Brine the Cheese. This step is not in the cookbook, but is a common technique. I used the brine solution I've been using for my mozzarella. It can be saved and reused quite a few times.

Freshly pressed cheese in the brine to salt it.

The brine should heated to about room temperature before adding the cheese. It's left in the brine for about 2 hours, turned every half hour. Then its' removed, dried, and left to form a rind.

9. Let the rind form. This is the step I'm at now. It's cool enough now that I shouldn't have a lot of problems with it getting moldy. Any mold that does begin to develop on the cheese, can be rubbed off with a clean rag dipped in vinegar and salt. I have to cover mine with an old cotton dishcloth, to protect from fruit flies.

The green cheese is wrapped & allowed to air dry to form a rind 

Out of the press, the cheese seemed tall, but it will settle down a bit as the surface dries. Last year it took about a week for the rind to develop. Once the entire surface is dry, I will weigh it a second time for my records. Then it will be waxed and stored in the warmest part of my fridge. The instructions call for letting it cure for at least 8 weeks before eating. The longer it's stored, the sharper the cheese will be. Cheese #11 was a year old by the time we cut into it, so it was fairly sharp. We'll cut into this one as soon as my other cheeses have been eaten.

What do I do with all that whey? Some of you may be wondering about all that whey! Whey retains about a third of the calcium and protein of the milk, so it's too valuable not to keep and use.
  • Obviously it can be used as a starter culture to make more cheese. :)
  • Make ricotta cheese. I make this if I have time. Add about a quarter cup cider vinegar and heat to 200° F / 93° C. Ricotta doesn't keep well, so unless I have plans for it (lasagna or cheesecake) I don't always make it.
  • Since reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, I have been soaking grains and whole grain flours overnight with a bit of whey, to neutralize the phytic acid. This increases digestibility and availability of grain nutrients, so whey is something I cannot be without.
  • Use in place of water or milk in any recipe that calls for it: bread, pancakes, gravies, as a soup base, etc.
  • Replace part of the water when reconstituting juice
  • Use to make lemonade
  • Use in lacto-fermenting. Another idea from Sally Fallon. We've found we prefer the taste of sauerkraut, sauerruben, pickles, etc if the brine contains a bit of whey.
  • Sourdough starter, when making a fresh batch
  • Homemade soda pop, i.e. lacto-fermented herb teas and juices, made with whey
  • Homemade mayonnaise. I recently found directions for lacto-fermented mayonnaise at Sarah's Musings. The addition of whey increases the shelf life (in the fridge of course).
  • Feed to cats, dogs, chickens, pigs, etc. They love it! 
  • Water plants like liquid fertilizer
  • I've also read of experiments using whey as a spray for plant diseases. This is something I would like to experiment with myself.

If you have any questions, ask away. I'm still very much a beginner at cheese making, so I may or may know be able to answer them.

I will continue with this recipe for awhile, experimenting with longer curd cooking, and perhaps the cheddaring technique. I may even try some natural additives for a yellow color! If you give this recipe a try, do let me know what you think.

Cheese #11, The Recipe photos & text ©
October 2012 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com/


1st Man said...

Awesome! I've always wanted to try my hand at cheesemaking. I've made cottage cheese (of sorts) and went to a class once where we made mozzarella but I haven't done it on my own yet. Thanks for this post!!

The Cranky said...

Thank you for posting this, it's something I've always wanted to try!

Lisa B. said...

I love Little House Cookbook. I've heard lots of people like the cheese from it. I was too busy to try it this summer but it's on my to do list this winter.

Your cheese looks great. Chickens love whey and it is so good for them.

DebbieB said...

This is all fascinating, Leigh! What a great resource for "someday" when I experiment with cheesemaking myself.

A proofreading note: Step 5 has two confusing sentences (probably victims of copy/paste editing) - "The two half gallon jars on the left, are filled with whey from from draining the curds after before salting. The whey on the right is whiter, because it what was squeezed out by the press."

Leigh said...

1st Man, I have to warn you that the entire process is fascinating to do and only leads to wanting to experiment! Sadly, the aging process slows the fun down a bit, but it's wonderful to make your own cheese.

Jacqueline, I wish you good success! I know you'll blog about it (hint, hint).

Lisa, it just seemed like the recipe to try. :) Not that I wouldn't love to experiment with some of those commercial cultures; I just felt that I needed to use what I've got available. Is there such a thing as self-sustaining cheese making? LOL

I have to say that I gave my cat some whey last night from a fresh batch of mozzarella. He loved it too!

Debbie, thanks for the comment and pointing out that oddly worded paragraph. It surprised me because I must read and re-read each blog post dozens of times before publishing. That paragraph didn't even make sense and I can't imagine what happened. Blogger does some pretty weird things at times, but I can't imagine their software doing that!

DFW said...

Thank you Leigh! I can't wait to hear if this ones tastes as good (the same as your original). Still waiting on Justin to build me a press.

Florida Farm Girl said...

Looks like you're getting better at it.
Making cheese is something I think I'd like to do, but with a DH who can't eat much of it due to health concerns, there's not much point for just one person. And I'd likely have to try the pastuerized milk. I don't even know of anywhere I could get raw milk of any kind.

Sandy Livesay said...

I enjoyed reading this post. This post made me realize, even though I want to make cheese, I'm not ready yet. First, I need some of the tools and second, I need to make time without interruptions.
When I finally have all that I need, I will come back to this post along with your previous on making cheese and use them for reference.
Thank you for posting your cheese making process.

Nina said...

I have a friend who makes cheese and she uses linen instead of cheesecloth, because it's more easily available to her. You've made it look quite simple although I'm betting it takes a bit of time. It's something I've considered trying but time just seems to be short changed these days. Maybe later in the winter, when things really do slow down around here.

Nina said...

second comment to add - When you have time, could you tell more about your homemade soda pop? That also sounds very interesting.

Michelle said...

What a beautifully illustrated inspiring post! I'm totally motivated to save up milk and start making cheese right away! :-)

For your cheese press woes, do you already know about this site: http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/cheese/cheese_course/cheese_course.htm ? He has instructions for making a homemade cheese press that is pretty rigged, but uses things you already have on hand for the most part, and therefore makes it one less gadget to have in your storage. I plan to give his method a try before going out and paying for a proper cheese press. HTH!

Ngo Family Farm said...

WOW! How kind and generous of you to share this entire process with us. Thank you!! :)

Leigh said...

DFW, you're welcome! There are a lot of good cheese press plans out there, so hopefully you'll have yours soon. :)

FFG, that's a point, but it can be made in smaller batches. Or one large batch can be made into smaller wheels. If you can't get raw milk, be sure to ask for regular pasteurized. I've only seen ultrpasteurized around here, but hopefully you'll have better success in finding it.

Sandy, I agree it's good to have a couple of hours to set aside for the project. The mozzarella is much quicker. The right tools help too. :)

Nina, good idea about the linen. I've used cotton muslin too. I actually should probably go back to that because I can at least get it locally.

I've only tried the soda pop once, that was the ginger beer I made a long while back. It didn't build up much fizz though, and I haven't tried it recently. Still, it's another good idea for whey!

Michelle, thanks! I did try the Fankhauser style cheese press, but wasn't entirely happy with it. I think if I had a better follower it would have worked better. I have a couple more links in my side bar for homemade presses. I just need to get one done!

Jaime, thanks!

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Very impressive! Probably, I'll never make cheese but I'm loving that you made cheese!

Renee Nefe said...

I have a homeschooling friend who is part of a food co-op. First I'm going to share your blog with her, and second (maybe not in that order) I'm going to see if they get milk through the co-op. I'm pretty sure that the milk that I'm buying is too pasteurized. But I would love to try making cheese.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Leigh, you are amazing! Thank you for taking all the time to post this tutorial. We have tons of raw milk, it's a main income for our farm, but I have never made cheese. NOW, I will.

PS I just bought a brown bowl exactly like yours at a flea market this weekend. Do you have any idea how old these bowls might be?

Leigh said...

Sandra, thanks. I started making cheese to do something with all that milk!

Renee, that's a good idea. And if you can get it anywhere, it's probably there. Our coop only has ultrapasteurized unfortunately. It's not homogenized though.

Donna, actually I'm surprised you haven't really gotten into it. I hear folks will pay premium for raw milk cheese.

I have no idea how old the bowl might be, except that it was once upon a time my grandmother's. She was born in 1898, so that would likely make it close to 100 years old.

Debby Riddle said...

You make cheese like me, and my #11 was also a repeatable cheese:) The Cultures can be expensive, so I also let the milk ripen naturally, though because I don't have refrigeration, I am thinking about using the old way of mixing the night milk(12 hours) old, with the morning's fresh milk, that way the acid is diluted slightly. I was getting very dry, Parmesan-like cheese, and recently learned,it was because the acid was too high. Hoegger Supply has litmus acid testing strips, that are reasonable.

Leigh said...

Debby, this is exactly the kind of thing I'm curious about. I didn't realize that about the acidity. So much to learn! I agree about the cultures, which is why I've been trying to use whey or buttermilk instead. Do you have any cheesemaking blog posts? I need to come and check.