Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Making Cheese - A New Adventure

Ever since I found a local supplier of raw milk, I have been wanting to try my hand at cheese making. I thought I would start with mozzarella but had a hard time finding rennet and citric acid. The rennet I eventually purchased on-line and the citric acid appeared in stores as canning season kicked into full swing. By the time I had my supplies I didn't have the time. Go figure.

Jump forward a few months and the cheese inspiration was back after reading about the success of some of my favorite bloggers. So when I had an abundance of milk due to being away for Christmas I knew it was time to give it a whirl.

Following this recipe for farmer's cheese I gathered all my ingredients and supplies and got straight to work.

From what I have read, temperature is extremely important in the cheese making process. Thank goodness for an instant read thermometer.

Once the milk was up to temperature, the rennet was added. Then it was time to wait. This was kind of like watch a pot never boil. You couldn't see much happening.

But like magic, after about an hour the milk was now a solid mass - kind of like tofu. Time to cut the curds. This was really cool! As the curds and whey were heated the curds shrunk and the whey increased.

Then like magic the milk had turned into a solid mass - like tofu. The next step was to cut the curds. This was really cool! As the curds and whey was heated, the curds shrank and the whey increased.

Then the curds and whey needed to be separated. This was funny because the more whey you removed the more appeared. Not a big deal because the remaining whey will be drained off later.

Next, add the seasoning. Salt - lots of it as most of it drains away with the whey - garlic and rosemary.

Now it was time to hang the cheese. Wrapped in cheese cloth it hung for an hour above a bucket to collect the last of the whey.

Not having a cheese press I made due with a couple of plates, a heavy cast iron pan, and a bucket of water. Here our cheese sat for the next 17 hours.

A long process but a huge success! Everyone love the cheese! I may even buy extra milk just to make cheese. And you can bet I will be trying my hand a mozzarella and ricotta soon.

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