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by Paula Butler

Learning how to make cheese may seem intimidating at first because it’s something not many of us have grown up seeing or doing. It’s really surprisingly easy to get started however, especially when you begin with making fresh cheese, such as ricotta. These are some the questions we get asked again and again.

Where do I begin learning how to make cheese?

Right here! We offer all the tools and information you need to learn how to make cheese and start creating your own tasty cheeses in the comfort of your kitchen. Here are some of the resources we offer on the website:

You can also purchase our ‘Journey Through Cheese Making’ instructional video or, if you’re in the Nashville area, attend one of our cheese making workshops at Standing Stone Farms.

What ingredients do I need to make cheese?

Aside from a couple special items, the ingredients used to make cheese are very common. You really only need milk, a curdling agent and salt. We use:

  • Cow, goat or sheep milk – You can use farm fresh or store bought. Using 2% is okay occasionally but we usually recommend sticking with whole milk.
  • Citric acid or rennet – This is your coagulating agent; it helps the milk congeal together to turn into cheese. Rennet is a protease enzyme that comes from the stomach of milk-drinking animals. We tend to use liquid microbial rennet that is a vegetable-based alternative.
  • Salt – Salt helps enhance the flavor and also naturally preserve your cheese and we prefer cheese salt or kosher but NEVER an Iodine salt (it will kill off the good bacteria).

An easy way to get started finding the right ingredients is by getting our Basic Cheese Making Kit that includes all the ingredients (except milk) that you’ll need to make mozzarella, chevre, queso blanco, mascarpone and ricotta.

Can I use lemon juice as the coagulating agent?

While some recipes out there suggest using lemon juice or vinegar, we advise against using either since the pH levels are inconsistent and can affect your cheese. Stick to the citric acid or microbial rennet!

What tools do I need to make cheese?

Making cheese is much simpler than you might think and you probably already have everything you need right in your kitchen. The basic items you’ll need are a:

  • Stainless steel, glass or enamel pot with a lid
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Perforated ladle or skimmer spoon
  • Instant read thermometer
  • Drain bags

Some ‘nice-to-have’ items include:

  • A curd knife
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Dairy towels
  • A microwave safe bowl

You can see more details in our supply list for beginners on how to make cheese here. Also, our Complete Cheese Making Kit includes all the tools you need.

How long does cheese need to age for?

Aging times vary on the type of cheese you’re making and the flavor and texture you prefer. There are several cheeses, like chevre, cream cheese, ricotta or mascarpone, that you can eat right away, while feta or cheddar takes time to set and let the flavors develop.

What’s the easiest type of cheese to make?

Traditional Italian ricotta only has four ingredients and is a piece of cake to make (ind the recipe here.) Also, our Super Fast Mozzarella Recipe is a bit more involved but definitely doable for beginners and the result is fantastic – you can’t beat fresh mozzarella! 

Still have questions about how to make cheese or about any products you’re thinking of purchasing? Check out our extended FAQs.

Paula Butler


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