Cheesemaking is one of those things that feels complicated but is actually a whole lot easier than you expect. I like to think of it this way; if a medieval farmer could make cheese in an unsophisticated kitchen… then we can too! Here is an overview of everything you need to know about how to make cheese.
Cheesemaking 101 – Basic Information
Cheesemaking can be as simple or as complicated as you want.
However, if you’re interested in trying something more complicated, then I recommend making sure you have the right supplies.
Here are the details:
- Equipment: Most of the equipment needed for making simple cheeses is probably already in your kitchen. However, advanced cheeses require temperature regulation, cheese forms, and a press. Here is an overview of the specialized equipment involved in cheesemaking, including DIY options.
- Ingredients: Most cheese is made from milk, culture, and rennet. Check out this post on cheesemaking ingredients if you’re interested in learning more about the different types of cultures and what kind of milk is best for homemade cheese.
How to Make Cheese
This step-by-step guide on how to make cheese is for more advanced cheeses. As I mentioned above there are several super-simple kinds of cheese that don’t require any specialized skills or equipment.
Here are the steps involved with making cheese. If you are uncertain about any of the steps I recommend reading the related posts, linked in each of the steps. They will provide a lot more details.
- Sanitize: Start by sanitizing all the equipment and your kitchen counters. This is particularly important for making hard cheese or mold-ripened cheese.
- Inoculate: Most cheeses are cultured prior to setting the curd. This provides flavor and acidification. This is done by warming the milk and maintaining the right temperature for the particular type of bacterial culture. Here’s some more information on how to inoculate milk.
- Set the curds: Once the milk has reached the desired acidity, rennet is added. After that, it usually takes about 30 minutes for the curd to set.
- Cut the curds: Check for a clean break and cut the curd.
- Preparing the curds: Some cheeses require the curds to be cooked. This helps to remove extra whey and firm up the curds. Here are more details on the different ways to prepare curds.
- Drain the whey: Line a colander with several layers of butter muslin. Then drain the whey from the curds.
- Salt the curds: Salt and other flavors are added prior to packing the curds into a cheese mold.
- Press the cheese: Line a cheese mold with butter muslin, then pack in the salted curds. At this point, the cheese can be pressed to further remove the whey. Even without a cheese press, salting will help remove some of the excess whey.
- Aging hard cheese: Fresh cheeses are usually finished as soon as they are removed from the mold. However, hard cheeses need to develop a rind as part of the aging process. They can be waxed, bandaged, or washed in salt. If you are planning on making aged cheese, I recommend reading the full post on aging hard cheese.
Recipes and More
Ready to try cheesemaking? Here are a few more topics to get you started:
- Fresh cheeses are perfect for beginners since they don’t require quite the same amount of precision as hard cheese. Here are 10 different recipes for fresh cheese that you can make at home.
- This list of 12 recipes includes everything from feta to farmhouse cheddar.
- Don’t throw out that whey! Here are 28 different ways to use whey.
- Here are some common cheesemaking problems and how to solve them.