Do you often wake up in the middle of the night with cravings for homemade cheese? Making cheese at home is easier than you think. Cheese making is a culinary delight to some, as well as an art that dates back to as early as 2,700 to 2,800 B.C.
The greatest part about learning how to make cheese at home is that fresh cheese is very nutritious and it's more flavorful than store bought brands. Regardless of whether your cheese of choice is mascarpone, aged mozzarella, parmesan or cream cheese, you will need a few basic ingredients and you will always follow a few basic steps in the cheese making process:
- Warm and Sour the milk: The first step in the process is warming the milk and adding bacterial culture or "starter culture" to the milk to start the fermentation and souring process. Depending on the type of cheese you decide to make at home, the fermentation and souring process can take from one to fifteen hours.
- Add Rennet to the Milk: Rennet helps to curdle milk and speeds up the acidifying process, which is necessary in the cheese making process. Rennet creates a ripened, soft curd while causing the cultured milk to set. Temperature will vary with the type of cheese you choose to make. However, it is very important that the warmth of the milk, amount of rennet used and the time spent setting the blend are all timed correctly.
- Separate the Curds from the Whey: While the whey rises to the surface, curds are often cut and allowed to set. For best results, drain the curds overnight for at least ten hours.
- Add Salt: Choose an uniodized, flake or course salt. It's important to add salt to the cheese to slow down the fermentation process. Salt ads to the creamy flavor of the cheese and it cuts down the tartness that started during the souring process.
These are the basic steps you will follow to make cheese at home. For flavored cheeses, hard or aged cheese, there are a few additional ingredients and steps you need to follow.
"Making Great Cheese at Home: 30 Simple Recipes from Cheddar to Chevre" by Barbara Ciletti