Making a simple cheese from home isn’t such a difficult undertaking. Common household and readily available ingredients can be used to make most cheeses while special ingredients like cheese rennet are useful when making the rennet cheese. Here is how to make a simple cheese using four key ingredients including milk, rennet, mesophilic culture and non-iodized salt.
Acquire Cheese-Making Cultures
This is the first step in the cheese making process. It is possible to find these in a grocery shop or you could simply make an online purchase from a suitable website. Any mesophilic culture will do just fine. The bacteria in the culture will acidify the milk in preparation for the rennet. Unlike most bacteria, the ones in the culture are good and can also help to fight off the bad ones. In situations where the right culture is difficult to come by, store-bought buttermilk is an alternative, albeit not a great one.
Rennet can be organically obtained from animal guts and it is also available in vegetarian forms also. Any kind is suitable and its job is to differentiate the acidified milk into curds and whey. They are also available for purchase online and they come in different makes. If you get a dry rennet, read the package instructions to learn how to convert the dry rennet into liquid.
Heat The Milk In A Suitable Pan
A non-reactive pan like non-chipped enamel pans is the most suitable at this stage of our cheese making process. It is best to avoid the aluminum and copper pans which release unwanted chemicals while heating due to the cheese’s acidity. So, measure the milk ‘s temperature using an infrared thermometer and heat until the temperature rises to 30ºC. Both raw milk and unpasteurized milk will do just fine but stay away from ultra-pasteurized milk. You should worry so much about the fat content in the milk. In fact, while milk does way better than skimmed milk in cheese preparation.
Put In The Bacterial Culture
After heating, the next thing is to add the bacterial culture and let it sit for 2-3 minutes. When the time is up, stir the mixture in an up and down motion. Don’t be too vigorous.
Let It Sit More
Once the stirring is good, cover the container and leave the milk to sit in a warm dark room for a while. The label on your culture will tell you how long to wait but its best to leave the mix for three to four hours if buttermilk was used.
Warm The Mix And Add The Rennet
Remember the rennet? Now is the time to put it in after heating up the mix to 30ºC once again. Remember to dilute the liquid rennet in 60 mL of cold water or dissolve dry rennet if that’s what’s available. The mix would then be stirred again using the familiar up and down motion.
Let Sit For Another 4-12 Hours
This time around, allowing the mix to sit at room temperature will help to form a thick custard-like curd. It may not always turn out that way but you could wait some more in the hope that it would turn out as expected. Still, you should continue after about 12 hours.
Remove Some Of The Whey
It’s time to drain the cheese using a butter muslin cheesecloth and a colander. Some people also make use of ordinary fabric but this isn’t the best choice. Gently put the solid curd, using slow movements, into the colander so as to allow the excess whey to escape.
Cut Into Cubes And Heat
Now that the mix is as solid as it can get, softly cut the curd into cubes and place in a double boiler. Then, apply a low heat until you attain a temperature of 38ºC for over an hour. Heat until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Eat The Cheese
Finally, you could add a pinch of salt to stop the acidification and also help with preservation. The cheese is ready for consumption and leftovers can be stored in a freezer.
You should get better as you make cheese at home several times. If you find this process a little too long, you can always use a cheese making equipment for making cheese at home.