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Cooking at home: how to make homemade cheese

The Joy of DIY Mission: To recapture the excitement of accomplishing something new. Undertaking something new and out of the ordinary and report it on my blog. I hope to inform and entice you to do it yourself. Week 8:  Make Homemade Cheese.

Today I made Feta!

chose Feta cheese because it does not required cheese wax to age, just
a salt brine. Also, it doesn’t require as much aging time like the
Monterey Jack (2-4 mo), Cheddar (2 6 mo) and Parmesan (10 months!).
This coming month, I will be making 8 cheeses. Stay Tuned.

ordered a Hard Cheese Kit from cheesemaking.com. I also bought Home
Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll, the same woman who sells the kits. The kit comes with the food-grade
plastic cheese colander, a milk thermometer, cheesecloth, cultures for
eight cheeses, and an instruction manual. 

This kit makes Large Curd Cottage Cheese, Whey Ricotta, Feta (does not require cheese wax to age), and Monterey Jack, Farmhouse Cheddar, Gouda, Colby and Parmesan.
Remember to order enough cheese wax for the five hard cheeses.

I’m not sharing all the recipe details, I will take you through the
cheese making process so you know what you may be getting yourself
into. My goal is to explain this cheese making challenge in less than
1000 words. Here we go.

am – I started by sterilizing the kitchen, utensils and equipment,
including the sink, cheese colanders and large colander, glass
measuring cup, stainless steal utensils: measuring spoons, perforated
ladle, and curd knife, knifes, milk thermometer, and enamel pot. Simply
rinsing in hot water or steaming stainless steel could do some of the
sterilizing and dipping food-grade plastics in solution of bleach and
water, then air dry.

am – I heated water for the water bath (pot of milk sitting in a sink
of hot water). My local Co-op had non-homogenized, pasteurized whole
milk from Organic Valley

Lesson learned: it
would be good to start two 2 gallon pots of water so you have hot water
available to maintain the milk at 86 degrees (or boil water in a
measuring cup as needed). To mange the temperature, remove the pot from
the water bath and replace it as needed. It is not very hard to
maintain 86 degrees (clip on the milk thermometer to the edge of the
pot) – just keep checking on it, especially after adding the culture.

am – I added the culture (Bacteria needed for Feta cheese: Mesophilic).
Now I wait an hour before adding the ½ tablet of rennet (enzyme that
separates the curd and the whey), which is dissolved in ¼ cup of water.
Then let sit for 30 minutes. 1:00
pm – I checked the curd. It was firm enough that it started to separate
from the edge of the pot. I inserted a finger into a clean break. It
looks and feels like yogurt. Now you cut the curd and let it set for 10

– Stir curds every 10 minutes and for the next hour slowly raise the
temperature from 86 degrees to 95 degrees. This is when that second pot
of hot water comes in handy. Start boiling this after putting in the
rennet.2:11 pm – In
draining the curds I used a stainless steel bowl under a colander
draped with cheesecloth. Let it set for 1 hr. Tip: Collect the whey in
this stainless steel bowl.

3:11 pm – I cut the curds into small blocks,
salted and seasoned the cheese with dried/crushed red peppers and thyme
leaves, then turned the cheese and let it drain for another half hour.This is when I jumped for joy and yelled, “ I made cheese!”3:45 pm
– I placed the cheese blocks into a stainless steel bowl, poured the
prepared brine (2 cups of water + 2 tablespoons of salt) over the
cheese, and then placed it in the refrigerator. 

The longer it ages the
better. Recommended: 30 days. I will taste the Feta in 2 days and
report back.Don’t waste the whey: I made Ricotta From Heaven (pg
152 of Home Cheese Making) with the remaining 13.5 cups of whey. You
have up to 3 hours to reheat the whey on the stove until foam appears.
Let it set for 5 min, then remove the foam and drain it for 15 min in
colander lined with cheesecloth. Keep refrigerated in a stainless steel
bowl for one week.

Production: 1 gallon of milk made 4 cups of Red Pepper and Thyme Feta Cheese.

cups of whey made 1/4 cup of ricotta (not as successful because I may
not have cooked the whey long enough, but at least I’ll have a taste).

Feta Time: 10:40 am to 3:45 pm = 5 hrs 5 min

Ricotta from whey Time: 3:50 pm to 4:50 = 1 hr

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View this blog entry at http://thejoyofdiy.blogspot.com