Adventures in Cheesemaking

Mmmmm cheese. I LOVE cheese…all kinds – extra sharp cheddars, nutty bries, soft goat, slices of provolone, bleu, smoky, dilly, stinky, fruity, crumbly, moldy, give it all to me. There are so many amazing cheeses and so many different ways to enjoy them. I cannot imagine life without cheese. Nope.

Not too long ago, I thought brownies only came from a box. The idea of making anything from scratch was such a foreign concept, I didn’t even try to figure it out. I would just buy the brownie mix, buy the pancake mix, buy the macaroni and cheese box, buy the pizza dough, buy the cake mix, buy the soup can, etc etc etc. But recently, I have been venturing out of my comfort zone and baking my own bread, making my own shampoo, melting my own candles and so much more. Knowing EXACTLY what is going into the foods you eat and products you use on your skin and in your home is rewarding. It’s time to combine my newly found confidence with my love for cheese.

Let’s try making it….I am starting with the easiest cheese first: mozzarella. From what I have read in several recipes, I should be able to make a ball of mozzarella in less than 1 hour, including cleanup. Then I can enjoy with my well stored fresh bread from yesterday.

Making mozzarella isn’t a ton of ingredients, but requires some special ones. First of all, you need whole milk that is not ultra pasteurized. The organic whole milk I buy for my family to eat the 28,000 boxes of cereal we go through each month is not gonna cut it. Good for cereal, but not for cheese. I just ran over to our local dairy farm and bought what I needed there.

The next special ingredient is called rennet. Rennet is an enzyme specifically for making cheese and comes in a tablet form (isn’t that odd?). According to Wikipedia, “rennet is a complex set of enzymes produced in the stomachs of ruminant mammals. Chymosin, its key component, is a protease enzyme that curdles the casein in milk. This helps young mammals digest their mothers’ milk. Rennet can be used to separate milk into solid curds for cheesemaking and liquid whey.

Say Whaaaaaat? Alright – this is wildly interesting. Check out this super odd video about how to extract rennet from a calf’s stomach….I have no idea why she is wearing old timey clothes….. but it’s fascinating. Just take a peek.

You also need citric acid (powder that makes sour candies taste sour) and salt and water, but those are all things I had in my pantry already. Rubber gloves and a candy thermometer are handy as hitting the right temperature is very specific.

<<This cheesemaking post contains affiliate links so you can get some supplies and make cheese too! No extra cost to you and a kickback to me so I can keep making fun stuff to share with you all. Cheers!>>

Alright, let’s just do this:

I followed this recipe video from Felicia at the Starving Chef blog which is very simple once you do it one time. Yes, it is simple. As long as you have the proper ingredients and proper tools and understand why you are doing what you are doing, it will be easily repeated. The mess I made to get this tiny little, maybe 1 pound ball of cheese is astronomical but I made flipping cheese, y’all! CHEESE. I. MADE. CHEESE. In an hour, nonetheless. I told my son that I was gonna make cheese and he asked me why and then walked away laughing. But, once I started squealing with delight from the kitchen when my curds and whey started to separate, he was all in with me.

Curds and whey, Lil’ Miss Muffet!

Making this cheese was easy. I am not saying all cheese is easy to make, because it definitely is NOT. But if you want to give cheesemaking a try, this is a great video to watch and follow. When the tomatoes start to ripen from the garden, I will be making lots of this cheese because nothing is better than fresh tomato, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a drizzle of fig balsamic vinegar…..NOTHING.

Give it a try. I promise you will feel damn good about yourself and want to tell all your friends….maybe even write a blog about it. Hmmmm

10 Comments on “Adventures in Cheesemaking

  1. Loved this report. I used to make my own bread and you know how I could tell it was far superior to store bought? It got stale the next day. Store bought can stay “fresh” for a week. Think of the chemicals they must use to make that happen!

    I made my own cheese once by just heating milk, then adding lemon juice to make it curdle, straining it through a cheese cloth, then just putting it wrapped in the cloth in a bowl with a weight on top! I’m sure it wasn’t as good as yours but it did resemble cheese. 😒

  2. I made fresh chevre (goat cheese) a few weekends ago. The hardest part was getting the goat’s milk! I used a goat cheese culture the farmer was kind enough to give me (New England Cheesemaking Supply). Making the cheese was SO EASY, and it came out so good! I’d say foolproof. The milk comes from a little ranch in Loxahatchee, Florida. Best stuff ever!
    I haven’t tried making mozzarella, as some say it is a hard cheese to make. Doesn’t seem like that’s your experience. I have a few gallons of frozen raw milk, and will try with that, probably this weekend. I bought vegetable rennet, in tablet form (you reconstitute a little bit of a tab in water before adding to the milk). We’ll see how it goes!
    Oh, and if you have a source for fresh milk, butter is really easy to make, and it tastes great! Just use a stand mixer, and find one of the many YouTube videos on it. Very, very easy.
    Thanks for sharing your recipe and your experience!
    Chris Church
    The Suburban Forager
    http://thesuburbanforager.com

      • I’d recommend eBay. If one shows up in a thrift store it generally gets snapped up right away. Very versatile item. We acquired one as a hand-me-down that’s over 20 years old. It doesn’t have an articulating head like the more modern ones, but its easy to lever the bowl up and down to access the mix. Good luck!

  3. BTW – did you stretch the Mozz? My son worked in a restaurant where they made fresh Mozzarella and he said the most important step is stretching it. Some YouTube recipes call for it, some don’t. Apparently it changes the consistency of the cheese.

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