Guide to Home Cheese Making

Guide to getting started in home cheese making, including milk requirements, using renet, recipes for lactic cheese, caerphilly, and step-by-step instructions for making cheese.

| March/April 1986

My wife, Ricki, and I first got involved with cheese making out of necessity. Over the years, though, our involvement with this ancient culinary craft has grown from necessity to avocation, and has finally become a full-time vocation (we now own and operate a cheese-making supplies company). And believe it or not, that process has been a real adventure.

Our story began when we purchased several milk goats, each of which produced a generous gallon a day. At first we tried drinking the milk as quickly as our does manufactured it. Couldn't be done. Next we tried our hand at making yogurt. But, as with milk, one can consume only so much yogurt before it spoils — so our chickens inherited the surplus, which they gobbled until we feared they'd begin laying curdled eggs. And that was when we decided to try making cheese — a craft about which we knew absolutely nothing!

MOTHER's Handbook: Guide to Home Cheese Making

Since our local bookstores weren't exactly bulging with tomes on home cheese making, I retreated to the University of Massachusetts Library and invested endless hours in searching out old recipes (primarily of 1800's vintage). As a result of this research, I finally gained enough knowledge and confidence to actually give cheese making a go.

For our premier attempt, we employed a homemade bricks-and-orange-juice-cans press in an effort to turn out a few pounds of feta (a brine-cured goat's-milk cheese of Greek origin). The homespun press did get the job done, but only barely, and it soon became apparent that if Ricki and I were going to continue pursuing our new hobby-of-necessity, we'd have to purchase some specialized equipment.

After drawing a blank in our search for a domestic cheese-making supplies house, we wrote to the embassies of just about every country in the world that I thought might have an industry producing small-scale cheese-making equipment. During the course of that search, we opened a correspondence with the Wheeler family, who, from their farm in the south of England, produce and market a beautiful, handcrafted cheese press. Eventually, Ricki and I made a pilgrimage to the Wheeler farm.

During our stay, Mrs. Wheeler thoroughly indoctrinated us in the craft of home cheese making, giving special attention to the hard English varieties. (One evening, she served us a tasty homemade cheddar she called "Lilly cheese." We assumed it was a local variety peculiar to Dunchideock . . . until she took us out to the barn after dinner and introduced us to Lilly, her Jersey cow.)

Donna Wallace
8/29/2013 6:07:01 PM

I have heard that most U.S. cheese makers do not use real Rennet but other countries do. But glad to see you sell both. My question is, why would we use chemically produced vegetable rennet when the real item is available. Does it have to do with what most beef and other animals are being fed and to do with the chemicals that makes it easier to use vegetable/chemical produced products. Actually I found your site trying to find the answer to that. Are both healthier.

Jan Steinman
1/20/2010 6:03:45 PM

Luis, the author is founder of in Ashfield, MA., 413-628-3808. I've been using their vegetable rennet tablets quite successfully. They also have animal rennet, liquid rennet, cultures, moulds, presses, separators, and just about anything else you'd need for making cheese. Highly recommended. Nice people. If you're in Canada, I can also recommend There are others, as well. for lots of sources.

6/1/2007 1:36:39 AM

where can i order and buy rennet tablets

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