Thursday, July 31, 2014

How Laura Do... Cheese!

So, here is the promised post. 

Today, I discuss how I make cheese.

I did not use the directions found on New England Cheesemaking Supply's site, but I wish I had.  I used some other directions that I can no longer find.  We will reference New England's directions though, and point out all the mistakes made.

First off, April came over and we bought our gallon of milk each.  My sister let me borrow her citric acid, liquid rennet, and cheese salt.  We had everything we needed to make our 30 minute mozzarella!  Little did we know the disaster that was to follow...

We started off warming the milk slowly in a big pot over medium heat to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  Since I don't have a milk or candy thermometer, we used my meat thermometer.  Don't recommend doing that.  Mine only went in 50 degree increments, so that made gauging the temperature a bit difficult.  We will call this mistake one.   

While we waited for the milk to warm, we diluted the citric acid.  Then, we remembered we were doing a double batch, and measured it out again.  After double checking that I wasn't screwing up too badly, we poured it in the milk and gave it a bit of a stir.
After adding the citric acid.

While it continued to heat up, we measured out the rennet and diluted it as well.  This time, I remembered we were doing a double batch.  Once the milk reached 90 degrees, we did not remove it from the heat when we added the rennet.  We did not let it sit for 5 minutes, covered.  Instead, we added the rennet, stirred the whole pot, and skipped ahead to heating it to 110 degrees.  Call this mistake number 2.

Adding the diluted rennet.

At this point, you can start laughing at my inability to read directions.  However, I defend myself by saying that we followed a different set of directions to the letter.  I swear on that.

I digress.  Let's continue with the fail.

So, we slowly heated the cheese to 110 degrees, all the while checking for curds to form.  If we had followed the New England's instructions, we would have known that the curds should have formed when the pot was resting.  Instead, what we were doing was destroying every attempt the curds had of forming.  We heated to milk too soon, I stirred the pot (more than once), and to boot, I over heated the milk by allowing the temperature to get up to 120 degrees.  At this point, the milk was separating into curds and whey, but not forming the nice, stiff curds like they should have.  It looked more like curdled milk.  Yum. 

We will lump all these mistakes into mistake number 3.
In an attempt to fix this, we allowed the milk to rest.  (Yes, I'm laughing too.)  I read that sometimes the rennet just needs more time.  Hindsight tells me that it was too late to save my curds.  All the stirring had broken the curds up too much for them to form together, and over heating the milk killed what was left of the rennet.  My poor mozza was not looking good.

Where are those pretty curds you see in the pictures?

We strained the milk/curd mixture through some cheese cloth.  We ended up with a mass of soft, unformed curds.  If we had followed some good directions, than at this point we would have had nicely cut, thick, tofu-like curds.

When the curds were done straining, we divided them into 2 bowl.  We heated the bowls in the microwave (as per our directions) to try and get the whey to move out of our curds.  It did not work.  We only succeed in making hot curd soup.

After repeated warmings and attempted strainings, it proved hopeless.  I poured all the curds and whey into some cheesecloth and hung it up to drip out the whey.

Straining the whey from the curds.

After about 3 hours, we had ricotta.  Or cream cheese.  Who knows. 

Strained cheese.

After 24 hours of hanging, the cheese was nicely firm, but very crumbly.  We divided it up into 2 lumps and we each made lasagna out of it.  So darn good.

So, there you have it.  That's how Laura makes cheese.

I will be making cheese again.  I really want to make a good mozzarella.  I'm going to be purchasing a mozzarella kit from New England Cheesemaking Supply.  Hopefully next time I have a nice cheese to share.

Have an idea for what you want to me to demonstrate next?  Let me know!  In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the ride!


  1. The cheese was delicious. The lasagna was great, and the recipe is very simple that anyone can do it. Now only if I can get my brother, who lives Holland, to make homemade cheese for the first time!

  2. Your so safe with your fire extinguisher!!! What a good example you setting :D