Making Hard Cheese at Home

Follow these steps for a basic uncolored, unprocessed hard cheese. Adjust the heat and cure time to tailor the flavor and texture.

| May/June 1976

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    Learn to make cheese at home. Healthy, delicious and versatile, you can use your cheese in a wide variety of recipes.
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    Step 3: Mix in rennet.
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    Step 2: Add starter (optional).
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    Step 4: Let set until curd breaks cleanly.
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    Step 5: Cutting the Curd.
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    Step 6: Stir curd by hand.
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    Step 7: Warm slowly for one hour.
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    Step 12: Dress the cheese.
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    Step 10: Salt the curd.
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    Step 13: Press cheese.
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    Step 9: Pour curd.
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    Step 11: Form into a ball.
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    Step 14: Paraffin, then store in cool place.
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The recipe that follows is a basic formula for producing natural (uncolored, unprocessed) hard cheese at home. Keep in mind, however, that domestic cheesemaking is an imprecise art at best. Many variables—such as how "ripe" the milk is, the length of time (and the temperature at which) the curd is heated, and the number of weeks of curing — effect the flavor and texture of the end product. As a result, you may find that you have to slightly adjust the techniques involved to suit your own tastes and kitchen conditions.

To begin making cheese, all you need besides milk is a floating dairy thermometer (most any immersible type will do), two enameled containers (one of which can "nest" inside the other), rennet, a long-handled spoon and knife, three or four yards of cheesecloth, a colander, a one-pound package of paraffin, a press something like the one detailed below ... and an all-abiding appetite for good, flavorful food.

(Our thanks to Chas. Hansen Laboratory, Inc. for providing much of the information presented here.)

1. Prepare the Milk: Heat to 86 degrees Fahrenheit      
Allow four quarts of the evening's fresh whole milk (either cow's or goat's) to ripen overnight in a cold place (50-60 degrees F). Mix in four quarts of the next morning's milk and heat the two gallons of liquid to 86 degrees F in an enameled container. (Note: In her Old-Fashioned Recipe Book, Carla Emery forgoes the night-long ripening process, and simply begins her cheesemaking in the morning by heating all eight quarts of raw milk at once. Still others say it's all right to make cheese from pasteurized whole milk or even skimmed milk, if you add the "starter" discussed in Step 2. )



2. Add "Starter" (Optional)     
"Starters" — cultured buttermilk, plain yogurt, or milk held at room temperature until it clabbers — are sometimes used to increase lactic acid content and thus strengthen cheese flavor. If you've "ripened" raw milk as described in Step 1, or if you prefer a very mild cheese, you can now add rennet to the warm liquid. If you're using pasteurized or skimmed milk, or desire a "zestier" product, thoroughly mix into the 86 degree F fluid a cup and a half of any of the above substances (or a commercial "starter"), cover, and let the solution set in a warm shaded room for 2 to 4 hours before proceeding to Step 3.

3. Mix in Rennet
Dissolve one-quarter of a "Hansen's Cheese Rennet Tablet" in one-half cup of cold water (or use any other rennet brand according to directions). Put the container of milk in a larger pan of warm (88-90 degrees F) water, and stir in rennet solution. (Note: Rennet is produced from an enzyme found in calves' stomachs, so vegetarians often use non-animal-derived substitutes sold in health food stores. And in Stalking the Healthful Herbs , Euell Gibbons suggests employing the liquid from cooked stinging nettles. "When one adds as much common table salt to this juice as it will absorb," says Euell. "The mixture acquires the ability to coagulate milk, like rennet.")

jjseals
6/22/2014 8:19:20 PM

I make cheese for the dogs using out of date 2% milk. I start by letting it get to room temperature, then I add about a quarter cup of shreaded mozeralla cheese. I then shake the mixture and leave it on the counter at room temperature. After about two days the curds have formed and float on top of the whey. I usually punch a hole in the bottom of the milk container to drain the whey out for the dogs to lap up, then I cut the container to get the curds out. The dogs love it. Watch your container carefully and vent as needed to keep it from exploding




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