How to Make Soft Cheese: Three Great Recipes

You can easily learn how to make soft cheese at home with just a few pieces of equipment and a little bit of time. Best-selling author Ricki Carroll shows you how to make mascarpone, queso blanco and ricotta!

| May 6, 2013

Home Cheese Making Book Cover

“Home Cheese Making” by Ricki Carroll is the third edition of the classic reference for making small batches of wonderful, artisanal-style cheeses.

Cover Courtesy Storey Publishing

Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheese Making (Storey Publishing, 2002) has become a classic reference for thousands of people who make their own artisanal-style cheese at home. For those who want to make delicious cheese but don’t want to invest in a lot of equipment or spend a lot of time in the kitchen, Carroll suggests learning how to make soft cheese. In this excerpt from Chapter 4, Carroll shows how to make your own mascarpone, queso blanco and ricotta.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Home Cheese Making.

Soft cheeses require little equipment and are excellent choices for beginning cheese makers. Usually high-moisture cheeses that are eaten fresh, soft cheeses are quick, delicious, and easy to make. They are perfect for experimentation because once you have learned how to make soft cheese, you can vary the cheese simply by adding herbs, spices, honey, or other flavorings. 

Most of these cheeses have a creamy, spreadable consistency. Many are called “bag cheeses,” because the curds are drained in a bag of butter muslin. They are made by coagulating milk or cream with cheese starter or with an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice. Some recipes call for a little rennet to help firm the curds.

It’s important to drain the soft cheese in a place where the temperature stays close to 72°F (usually the kitchen). If the temperature and humidity are too high, you will have problems with yeast, which may produce a gassy, off-flavored cheese. If the temperature is too low, the cheese will not drain properly. The yield from 1 gallon of milk is usually 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of soft cheese, depending on the type of milk you use and the desired consistency of the cheese. The greater the butterfat content, the higher the cheese yield.

Soft cheeses will keep for 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Although it is not my first choice, they may also be frozen. If you want to salt your cheese, it’s best to wait until after thawing to add the salt; salt will increase the freezing temperature of the cheese and therefore it will not keep as well. The cheese making techniques used in this section are very straightforward.

11/8/2013 3:24:49 AM

Can a non dairy milk such as soy or coconut be used and is cheescloth fine enough to use in place of muslin? Great info...thanks

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10/30/2013 11:16:40 AM

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