Not that long ago I decided to try my hand at cheese making. I have made cheese before, but it was while I was in Culinary school, and about 15 years ago. I remember it being a fun process, but time consuming. Living in the city, working full time, and having children cut the amount of expendable hours I had for such a project. Also, I was close enough to specialty markets that I could buy cheeses anytime I liked. Now that my children are out of the nest, and my free time has become more plentiful, I decided to try my hand at cheese making, once again.
I can still go to a specialty market and get any type of cheese I want, but this is another of those homestead skills I wanted to add to my mental toolbox. That, and we love cheese here. We eat it in meals, as snacks, spread it on bagels, and put it in sandwiches, desserts, appetizers… the list goes on and on. We love cheese here, I have the skill set to make it, so why not make it at home? So, I bought some cheese making books on Amazon, ordered some cultures and equipment, and then set to making some yummy cheese.
I decided to start with some quick, fresh cheeses. Cream cheese is a staple in my kitchen. I use it often in recipes, and my family frequently enjoys on their morning bagels. I decided to start with an uncooked curd method, just to get a feel for the process again.
CREAM CHEESE (UNCOOKED CURD METHOD)
Non reactive, stainless steel pot
I had my curd ladle ready, but didn’t use it.
Make sure you equipment is clean, clean, clean before you start. You don’t want to contaminate your cheese as it sets up. That would be very bad for you and the cheese.
2 quarts pasturized half and half (low heat pasturized, if possible. Ultra pasturized has less yeild )
1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter
fresh herbs (if desired)
I ordered my culture online from Amazon. It came with 5 packets of starter, which I store in the freezer.
Warm milk to room temperature, 72°F.
As my milk was cold from the refrigerator, I warmed it gently in my stockpot on the stove.
Add one packet of starter…
… and mix throughly.
Cover and let stand at room temperature…
… For 12 hours
Place your colander inside a large bowl. Line colander with a double thickness of butter muslin. Transfer the contents of the stockpot into the lined colander. The curd will be like pudding. Tie the muslin around the cheese securely. “SECURELY” IS THE KEY WORD HERE. You will be making a potential cheese bomb when you do the next step if your knots come loose.
I used short bungee cords with hooks to hang it to drain over colander…
…for another 12 hours
Change the muslin once or twice during the hanging to speed the process along.
Remove the cream cheese to a bowl and beat in salt (and herbs, if desired ) to taste.
You can transfer into smaller cheese molds and chill in the refrigerator until firm. Then unmold the cheese and wrap individually in cheese wrap. Store in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks
Yeild: 1 pound cream cheese
Ok, this is the ugliest picture of a bagel ever, but my husband was impatient to try my experiment right away. It was delicious. The cheese comes out softer than with a cooked curd method, but it cooks and bakes well in recipes, and is great for fresh eating.
I am anxious to try my hand with more cheeses soon. I am eyeballing a cheese press right now, but it will most likely wait until after we move and I can set up and proper cheese cave for aging. In the meantime, I see many more fresh cheeses in our future… yum!
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