Cheese making recipes are anywhere from complex to easy. It all depends on the type of cheese. For the most part, it is pretty much like regular cooking but a little more complicated. The harder cheeses like cheddar can take some time to cure and they also need to be put in a cheese press. There are other cheeses that you can use right away and they don’t require aging or pressing so they are easier to make at home. You might want to start with the easier cheeses like ricotta cheese or farmer cheese and work your way up to hard cheeses.
How to Make Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese is a nice cheese to make at home. Once you get it made then you can make some spectacular lasagna or stuffed pasta shells. For the milk you can use cow’s milk from the store or if you’re lucky maybe raw milk from your friend’s goat. Either milk will work great.
1 gallon fresh, whole milk
1/3rd cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon non-iodized salt
Pour milk and salt into a stainless steel pot and heat to 180 degrees.
Remove from heat and slowly stir in the lemon juice then let it sit undisturbed for about 20 minutes. When you check it you will see curds and whey in the pot.
Line a stainless steel colander with two layers of cheese cloth. Put the colander into a large bowl. Ladle the curds into the cheese cloth. Save the whey (the liquid) for making soup.
Let the ricotta cheese curds sit in the cheese cloth for an hour to drain.
Scoop up the ricotta cheese and refrigerate until you are ready to use it. You can use it immediately to make your favorite Italian dish, if you like.
Farmer Cheese Recipe
Farmer cheese is an easy cheese to make and it has a very mild taste. Farmer cheese is used in pastries and in pierogies.
1 gallon whole milk
½ cup distilled vinegar
2 teaspoons of finely ground sea salt
Line a colander with two layers of cheese cloth or a piece of loosely woven muslin cloth. Put the colander over a large bowl if you want to save the whey for use in soup or another recipe.
Put the milk in a large pot and bring the milk to a boil, stirring constantly. You want a pot that has a lot of extra room in it because milk tends to foam up when you heat it.
Once the milk has reached a boil then reduce the heat to low.
Start stirring the milk and very slowly pour in the vinegar. As soon as you have all the vinegar in the milk then you should see the milk starting to turn into curds and whey. If it isn’t then add more vinegar one tablespoon at a time until you see the curds develop. Stir until all the milk has completely separated into curds and whey.
Pour the curds and whey into the cheese cloth lined colander. Rinse under cold tap water.
Sprinkle the curds with the salt.
Tie the cheese cloth and squeeze with your hand to remove the excess whey. Then hang the cheese over the sink for 2 hours.
Remove the cheese from the cloth and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. It should last about a week.
How to Make Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar cheese takes cheese making to the next step. Now you are going to need to have the use of a cheese press. You can buy them online or have someone make one for you. Cheddar cheese is more complicated in the cheese making process. There is a lot of cutting and waiting and more waiting and more procedures and more waiting, but it is all worth it in the end.
Cheddar Cheese Ingredients
2 gallons whole milk (raw milk is best)
¼ teaspoon mesophilic culture
½ teaspoon liquid animal rennet (or ¼ teaspoon vegetarian double strength rennet) dissolved in ½ cup spring water or non-chlorinated water
2 tablespoons of non-iodized salt
Pour the milk in a stainless steel stock pot. You can use either cow’s milk or goat’s milk, it doesn’t matter. Heat the milk to 85-90 degrees.
Stir in the mesophilic culture and then let the pot sit for 1 hour. Turn off the heat. You do want to keep the milk between 85-90 degrees so you might have to wrap the pot in a blanket then check it every 20 minutes or so to make sure it hasn’t dropped below 85 degrees. If it has then turn the heat back on until you hit 90 and then turn off the heat.
Next stir in the rennet solution and continue to stir until you are sure it is mixed in well. The rennet is what makes the curds separate from the milk. Let it sit undisturbed for and hour.
Check the developing curd and make a small cut in it with a long knife. If you get a clean cut, then the curd is done. If not, you need to let it sit on the heat for another hour and try again.
If the curd is ready then use your long knife to make slices in the curd ½” to 1” apart. Then cut in the opposite direction so that you have your curd showing small squares on top. Let the sliced curd sit for 15 minutes.
Raise the temperature to 100 degrees and stir the curds now and then to make sure they don’t start sticking to each other or the pot. Once you have reached 100-102 degrees let it cook at that temperature for about 45 minutes to firm up the curds. Stir occasionally to avoid clumping. As they firm up you will see them shrink up.
Remove the curds from the heat and let it settle.
Line a colander with two layers of cheese cloth and set the colander in a very large bowl or pot if you want to save the whey for soup or just set the colander in the sink if you don’t want to save the whey.
Pour the curds and whey into the cheese cloth and let it drain for 15 minutes.
Return the curds to the empty stock pot. Cover with the lid.
Put several inches of water into a larger stock pot and put it on the stove. Heat the water to 100 degrees and then add the smaller, curd filled stock pot. Let the curd stock pot float on the 100 degree water for 2 hours. Stir the curd every 15 minutes to cheddar the curd.
As needed you can add more hot water to the larger stock pot that is the water bath. Try to keep the water temperature at 100-102 degrees the best you can.
Slice the cheese curds into cubes, drain the whey and continue to heat for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the curd stock pot from the water bath and stir in the salt.
Line your cheese press with a piece of cheese cloth, leaving enough cheese cloth to go up the sides also.
Place the cheese curds in the cheese cloth and cover them with the ends of the cloth. Press in your cheese press for 15 minutes at ten pounds of pressure. Remove the cheese, flip it over and put it in a new piece of cheese cloth.
Remove the cheese and flip it over, place it in a new piece of cheese cloth and increase the pressure to 40 pounds and leave it that way for 12 hours.
Remove the cheese, flip it over and put it into another new piece of cheese cloth. Increase the pressure to 50 pounds and leave it for 24 hours.
Remove the cheese from the press and set it out in an airy place to dry. As it dries it will develop its own rind. Try to find a drying place that isn’t humid or sunny. Let the cheese dry between 2 and 5 days or until it feels dry to the touch.
Wipe down the wheel of cheese with a cloth soaked in distilled vinegar. This will help kill any mold that might be developing and unseen by the naked eye.
Put the cheese wheel in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
Melt a piece of cheese wax that is about 4”x4” in size in a double boiler. Bring out the cheese and paint the cheese wheel by dipping a natural bristle brush into the wax and painting the cheese. Add two coats all over the cheese wheel.
Return your cheese to your refrigerator and let it age between 3 months and 24 months. The longer it ages, the more sharp the flavor will be. Extra sharp is aged up to two years.
To eat, remove the wax and muslin, slice and serve.
If You Love to Cook
If you love cooking then you can take some fun cooking classes online to learn new fabulous dishes to serve. If you are working on too many cheese making recipes and now have to drop a few pounds, you can take a special cooking class that allows you to cook your way to weight loss or you can forget about weight and learn some awesome pastry arts.