I keep a list of things we make ourselves now rather than buying; cheesemaking has been on my radar for a while. I love cheese and the idea of making it fresh, saving money and having it whenever we want or need it in something seems like a dream.
But like many things, uncertainty looms over and sometimes causes me not to try immediately. Daughter Rachael knew that and bought me a Cheesemaking Kit for my birthday. It makes goat, mozzarella and ricotta cheeses and bunches of each. And although you don’t need much to make cheese, having a kit with a little thermometer, cheesecloth, rennet tablets, citric acid and cheese salt already in it, along with a really cute little cartoony type instruction booklet made it seem so simple!
This past weekend, while daughter Laura and family visited I thought that would be the perfect time to try it out. Hubby makes a killer pizza crust and I had canned pizza sauce from the garden in the pantry. Cheese and a few veggies were all that would be needed for a great grilled pizza, so out came the kit and off Laura and I went into our cheesemaking endevour!
Milk is important! Buying raw would have been fantastic, but I could not get my hands on it. I bought organic milk but not one that was high temperature pasteurized. I will say the end result was great, so the milk we selected worked.
First you pour the entire gallon into a pot, add your thermometer and wait. Cheeses are different, but we needed to wait until 90 degrees was hit before proceeding. It took several minutes for our icy cold milk to reach that temp.
Once it did, we could begin adding our other items like the citric acid and rennet. Our directions told us what temp to hit and at what point. It was easy to follow and surprisingly simple to proceed. We watched the thermometer, stirred and like a miracle little curds started to appear and rather rapidly at that!
At the appointed time (which was pretty short), we could scoop out our curds.
We drained the water off, divided it in two pieces and shaped each into a ball and dropped it back in the whey for just a bit. When the cheese “ball” it 135 degrees we removed it and began kneading it. In the end we shaped ours into balls. It was AMAZING! We had made cheese!
One ball was saved for the next day and we used it in a quiche for breakfast. BUT the other was enjoyed immediately on our pizza.
It was so yummy. I don’t know that I can ever go back again. After my supplies from my kit are gone, I will buy what I need and continue on. Like so many things, once you cross the hurdle and try, you are so glad that you did. This was no exception. Yeah for another rite of farmgirl passage and into the cheesemaking world!