Making cheese is a great way of preserving surplus milk and useful technique to learn if you keep cows and goats . If you don’t have your own animals, making cheese is still extremely creative and fun, and you can experiment by adding your home grown herbs and flavours to your own delicious soft cheeses.
Cheese is made from milk to has been fermented and coagulated, causing curds to form and a liquid, whey. Cheese, is made from the curds.
If you don’t own your own cows or goats, buy whole or semi skimmed milk. You can use homogenized milk. And pasteurized milk is fine for cheese making as long as you use an effective starter and allow the lactic acid bacteria to develop overnight before you begin.
You can make soft cheese, or ‘fresh cheese’ easily.
To make the cottage cheese, (as we call it) we are going to create curds and whey, using a coagulant. Rennet is a key ingredient in cheese making. It is an enzyme that comes from the stomach of a calf, goat, or lamb, and is used to coagulate the milk. Milk that is cuddled without further processing is called junket, and makes a delicious dessert by adding sweetener and flavors. The junket tablets can be found at your local supermarket.
If you want a vegetarian cheese, the rennet can be made from fermented microorganisms, plant extracts or synthetic animal rennet. Or see below to use lemon juice to curdle milk.
This is how all cheeses are made, a culture, and milk or cream.
To make cream cheese for a dessert, simply follow this only swap cream for milk.
I add the dissolved junket tablets in a little water , and add when the milk is heated to 37 degrees Celsius or 98 Degrees farenheight. The milk will quickly split, so pour the curds into a cheesecloth to hang up. (Everyone needs some cheesecloth in their household, it comes in so handy. )
This will separate the curds from the whey. And it’s the curds we use as cottage cheese after its hung up overnight.
Instead of using a rennet, you can curdle the milk by heating to a gentle simmer, taking off the heat and immediately adding juice of lemon. One lemon to one litre of milk. Simply hang the curds in cheesecloth ( muslin ) overnight and you have soft cheese.
Hang this up to let out the whey, and whala, you have cottage cheese! Or soft cheese! We can use it in salads or cake and dessert recipes. Or you can simply add some herbs and flavorings like chives, garlic, pepper, and serve with crackers. This cheese lasts a few days in the fridge.
Once you’ve tried making Soft Cheeses, you can look at making hard cheeses. I might do a blog on that in the future.