Basic Cheese Making Recipes

Delicious Creamy Traditional Italian Ricotta

Ingredients:

  • 1 Gallon Whole Milk
  • 2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 teaspoon Food Grade non-GMO Citric Acid
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt

Sterilize all your equipment before you begin.

Directions:

  1. Combine Milk and Cream, Stir with a gentle up and down motion to combine.
  2. Add Citric acid, Stir with a gentle up and down motion to distribute.
  3. Add 1 tsp. salt, Stir with a gentle up and down motion to distribute.
  4. Heat milk on low-medium heat until milk is approximately 140 degrees or until the film on the milk surface, has been replaced by a development of curds. At this point, use a rubber spatula and scrap the bottom of the pot to prevent scalding, JUST ONE TIME.   Do not stir or scrap again.  Wait and watch as the curd that is now floating on the top of your pot will begin to thicken and look like a volcano erupting with whey. This eruption generally occurs between 180-190 degrees however, most cheesemakers do not watch the temperature.  Just the action of the curds. The MOMENT you see this whey eruption, REMOVE from heat.
  5. Cover pot and let curds rest 20 - 30 minutes.
  6. Remove curds into a fine mesh strainer, using rubber spatula mix in remaining tsp. Salt and allow to drain any whey for 5 minutes, serve as is or season with your favorite herbs and spices.  May be frozen up to 6 months.

Wonderful served as a hot dip or cold!  Take a look at our Facebook page for Paula's favorite Ricotta recipes!

MASCARPONE

Ingredients:

  • 1 Quart Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 teaspoon Food Grade non-GMO Citric Acid
  • ¼ teaspoon. Kosher Salt

Sterilize all your equipment before you begin.

Directions:

  1. Very slowly over low– medium heat, heat cream to 190°F in a small pot. You will begin to see the cream get frothy and foamy.
  2. Remove from heat and add citric acid and salt. Stir gently 3 – 4 times in an up and down motion. Return to heat on simmer and let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside for 20 minutes.
  4. Pour cream into a cloth lined sieve, set over a container. The cream will be thin so it will pass through the cloth.  After several minutes, the cheese will stop the remaining cream from passing through the cloth. You will pour the liquid back into the sieve.
  5. Cover curds in the drain cloth and colander with plastic wrap and let drip in refrigerator for 12 hours. At this point, any excess liquid would have drained and the cheese will start thickening. The cheese will not look like cheese for the first 10-12 hours, so do not throw away the cream. Remove from bag and enjoy.

EUROPEAN CREAM CHEESE

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups Whole Milk, store bought pasteurized is fine.
  • 3 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream, Ultra pasteurized is fine.
  • ¼ Cup Cultured Whole Buttermilk or ¼ teaspoon MM100 mesophilic culture
  • ¼ teaspoon Calcium Chloride, diluted into ¼ cup cold water.
  • 3 drops Microbial Rennet, diluted into a 1/8 cup cold water
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt

Sterilize all your equipment before you begin.

Directions:

  1. Mix in a large pot 3 cups of whole cow or goat's milk and 3 cups of heavy cream. Heat the mixture until it reaches between 72 and 80 degrees F. You can submerse your pot in hot water or even use your microwave.
  2. After reaching 72 degrees, stir in 1/4 C. buttermilk or Culture.
  3. Add the Calcium Chloride mixture and Rennet Mixture to the pot. Stir the mixture gently, and then cover the pot. Store the pot in at room temperature to ripen the milk.
  4. Ripen for 14 – 24 hours while trying not to disturb your curds. The cheese at this stage should look like yogurt. I determine readiness by watching for small pools about 2-3” in size. You may also see the curd mass pull slightly away from the sides of the pot.
  5. Place drain bag into a colander. Pour the curds into the colander and let drain before hanging for 1 hour, and then tie up the cheesecloth so that any remaining liquid drains, approximately 10 – 12 hours.
  6. If you find your cream cheese with too much moisture, then simply drain it a bit longer next time. Remember that warmer draining temperatures will drain moisture more quickly. In addition, the rate of draining will depend on different milk qualities and higher fat milks will drain more slowly.
  7. Drain the newly formed cream cheese curds until they become solid. Transfer the cream cheese into a separate container, and then mix in salt until smooth and creamy.

Troubleshooting:

If your curd is too soft at the end of the initial ripening time, wait a few more hours (up to 4-6 additional hours). If this does not help, try keeping the milk 3-5 degrees warmer on the next try. In addition, you can increase the rennet up to double the recommendation.

If your final cheese is too acid (bitter, sour), then use less time in the initial ripening phase OR use a bit less culture.  If the final cheese is too dry, use less draining time in the cloth. If too moist, use more.

FRENCH STYLE CHEVRE (Goat Cheese)

This cheese is made step-by-step on our DVD.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Gallon raw goat milk or low temp pasteurized Goat Milk (Canned will not work)
  • ½ Cup cultured whole buttermilk or ¼ tsp. MM100 mesophilic culture
  • 2 drops liquid Microbial rennet, diluted into 1/4 Cup cool water
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Note: If using pasteurized milk, please remember to add the calcium chloride before the rennet. ¼ teaspoon, diluted into a ¼ cup cold water per gallon of milk.

Sterilize all your equipment before you begin.

Directions:

  1. In a double boiler pot set up, warm the milk to 80° or you may use your sink, submerse the pot with milk into hot water, and remove it to the counter once it reaches the proper temperature.
  2. Stir in an up and down motion the buttermilk or culture; mix well but gently.
  3. Add the rennet, stir well but gently, and cover.
  4. Set aside at room temperature for 12 – 18 hours (depending on room temperature, optimal temperature is 72 degrees and will call for about a 12 hour set, if cooler it will take longer). Cheese is ready to drain when it looks like thickened yogurt.  Curds will have a thin layer of whey floating on top and sometimes sides.
  5. Place drain bag into colander, over a pot large enough to allow whey to drain and pour in curds. Hang to drain 4 – 6 hours. When dripping has stopped, cheese is ready.  It should be the consistency of cream cheese.
  6. Add Salt, folding in gently.

Note: If you hang your cheese to long, it will be dry and crumbly.

Chevre is soft and mild; it is wonderful, flavored with a variety of herbs, spices, and fruit. See a few recipe suggestions, here. Chevre keeps well for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. You may freeze Chevre for up to 6 months, however, do not season (other than the salt) before freezing. The herbs and spices will lose their potency and flavor during the freeze period.

Thaw at room temperature.  Season after your cheese is completely thawed.

Gjetost (pronounced yeh-tost)

~Norwegian whey goat cheese made from very fresh goat cheese whey.

One gallon of chèvre whey will yield approx. 2 ½ cups of gjetost.  Gjetost is as sweet as caramel, with the texture of a dense, buttery fudge.

Directions:

  1. Reduce whey for 6-14 hours depending on the texture you want.
  2. If you reduce the cheese longer, then you will end up with less

Gjetost however, reducing the gjetost for 12-14 hours will allow you to place the gjetost in a cheese mold or mold by hand,  (I use old yogurt containers or plastic ware with holes drilled into the sides and bottom) and make the cheese sliceable.

Traditional Greek Style Feta

This cheese is made step-by-step on our DVD, this can be a more challenging recipe but well worth the effort.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 gallons Whole Goat, Sheep, or Cow Milk (see notes below)
    • Milk may be raw or store bought pasteurized*
  • 1/8 teaspoon MM100 Mesophilic Culture 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kid Lipase Powder – OMIT for vegetarian or mild feta
  • 1/4 teaspoon Microbial Rennet, diluted in 1/2 C. water
  • 3 Tbsp. Cheese or Kosher Salt
  • ½ Gallon Brine (recipe below)

Notes:

  • Traditional Greek Feta is made from ½ Sheep’s milk and ½ Goats milk. However, the flavor and consistency will be just as wonderful with any combination or single choice.
  • If using pasteurized milk, please remember to add the calcium chloride before the rennet.

Directions:

To make brine, combine 1/2 Cup salt (Kosher works best) to a ½ gallon of water, boil, and cool to below room temperature.

Sterilize all your equipment before you begin.

In a double boiler pot set up, warm the milk to 86° (91° for cow’s milk), or you may use your sink and submerse the pot with milk into hot water and remove it to the counter once it reaches the proper temperature.  You may have to place it back into the hot water during the cheese making process. 

  1. Add the culture and lipase. Omit the lipase if wanting a vegetarian version however; lipase is the enzyme that gives feta that great Greek style feta flavor.  Stir well and let ripen, covered, for one hour, maintaining the milk temperature at 86° (90° for cow milk).
  2. Add the rennet and stir briskly for 15 seconds. I then kind of "stop" the milk from moving with my ladle by turning the ladle sideways at the surface of the pot. Cover and let set about 30-40 minutes, or until you get a "clean break". You can check for a clean break by sticking knife into the curd at an angle.  Pull straight up out of the curd; if the curd breaks cleanly around the knife and whey runs into the crack that is made, you have a "clean break.”  Once you see this for the first time, you will know just what I mean. Cut the curd into 1/2" pieces.  Cutting the curds can be the most confusing part, but do not worry; it does not have to be perfect.
  3. Use a long knife held vertically and cut 1/2" slices in the curds.  Then turn the pot 90° and cut across in 1/2" slices the other direction, making a kind of checkerboard pattern.  Now hold the knife at a sideways 45° angle and retrace your cuts.  Turn the pot a quarter turn and retrace the cuts.  Turn it again and cut, followed by one final turn and cut.  By the last turn, you probably will not be able to see the original cuts, but just do the best you can.  If you do not think you cut the curd perfectly, do not worry!
  4. Let the curds rest for 10 minutes.  Do not stir yet!
  5. After this rest period, stir the curd gently and cut any pieces that you missed when you first cut the curd. (Do not worry about being too perfect.)  Hold the curd at 86° (90° for cow milk) for 45 minutes; carefully stirring occasionally to prevent the curd from sticking together, (I stir every 10 minutes). This process of “cooking” the curd helps the curd “toughen up” as well as releases its whey.
  6. Place a big colander over a big pot and line the colander with a Drain bag. If you dampen it, it will stick slightly to the colander, holding it in place.
  7. Carefully pour the curd into the colander.
  8. Tie the corners of the drain bag together and hang the bag to drain.  Be sure to save the whey to use later, as this is excellent whey for your garden!
  9. After 2 ½ hours, take the cheese down and turn the cheese (top to bottom). This turning will "even up" the cheese into a nice form. If you do not turn it, you will have a rough side to the cheese; it is edible, just not so attractive.
  10. After your cheese has hung for a total of about 24 hours, remove it from the cloth and cut it into usable size cubes/blocks (about 2-3 inches).  Sprinkle all the sides of the cubes with kosher salt and place them in a sterilized, large, sealable, container. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 days to "harden up" the blocks. The blocks will continue to release whey during this time; that is normal.
  11. Transfer the blocks and their whey to a large sterilized glass container. Add the brine. I have found that if I add the brine too soon, the cheese sometimes starts softening up. If this starts happening to you, pour off the brine; otherwise, it will only get worse. The cheese is still good; you may just want to use it in cooking instead of for crumbling.
  12. Brine for at least 1 week before use, to allow the full flavor to develop. After 1 week, you may take some of the cheese and place it into a jar with Olive oil and various herbs. Your feta cheese will keep in its brine (refrigerated) for a very, very long time (up to a year), and will only keep getting better/stronger. On occasion, you may find some mold forming on top of the brine. When this happens, just skim the mold off, the cheese is still fine. If a piece of the cheese was sticking above the brine, it may mold. Just remove it; the rest of the cheese is still good.

Note:  If you prefer the milder Belgian style feta, omit the lipase and rinse your cheese under cold water before serving.

Squeaky Cheddar Cheese Curds

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon Whole Cow's Milk (Store bought pasteurized is fine.)
  • ¼ tsp. MM100 Mesophilic Culture or ¼ C. Buttermilk
  • ¼ tsp. Calcium Chloride, diluted in ¼ C. cool water
  • ¼ tsp. Microbial Rennet, diluted with 1/8 C. cool water
  • ½ tsp. Cheese or Kosher Salt

Sterilize all your equipment before you begin.

Directions:

  1. In a double boiler pot set up, warm the milk to 85°. If you prefer, you may use your sink and submerse the pot with milk into hot water, removing it to the counter once it reaches the proper temperature.
  2. Remove from heat and add the culture. Cover, and let sit for one hour. Add the diluted calcium chloride and rennet, stirring well but gently. Rest for 1 hour.  After the rennet has worked for an hour, test for a "clean break” if the milk is ready, continue.  If not, let the rennet continue to work until it does show a clean break.
  3. Return the cheese to the double boiler and slowly heat (over a period of 30-40 minutes) to 100° Stir periodically very gently. When the temperature reaches 100°, hold it there for another 30 minutes. When the curds are very distinct from the whey, they are ready to drain.
  4. Remove curds with sieve or large slotted spoon into a lined or fine mesh colander. Let them drain for 30+ minutes, until they stop dripping. They will form a solid mass of curds. Turn the solid mass of curds onto a clean cutting board. Cut the mass into lengthwise and crosswise, into about ¾ pieces with a sharp knife.
  5. Cheddar the curds by placing a large colander or sieve on top of the remaining whey in the pot. (You may also place the curds over beer, liquor or any preferred liquid that could impart flavor into your curds). Heat the whey to approx. 100°. This warmth will cause more whey to be expelled from the curds. Periodically and gently move the curds around to keep them from matting together. Cheddaring takes 1 - 2 hours. When done Cheddaring, add the salt and mix.

At this point, you have two options, and I suggest splitting the curd up and trying both to see which flavor profile you prefer.  You may store them immediately in plastic ware, a Ziploc bag, etc. or dry the curds on a parchment-lined sheet for 12 – 18 hours in a cool, dry place, tossing after 4-6 hours.  Your curds are now ready to enjoy. You may eat them plain, toss in jalapeño and red pepper flakes, or create balsamic vinaigrette for them.  Use your imagination and flavor them with your favorite herbs and dressings.

The curds will last 10-14 days in your refrigerator.

Delicious!