So I made my own cheese. This has to of been the most satisfying food experiments to date. Apart from making my own butter that is. When you can see the cheese form right in front of your very eyes, that is absolutely incredible. So to get started I went and bought some rennet on Amazon. Rennet is an essential part of cheese making. It is an enzyme usually formed from sheep stomach acid. Vegetable rennet is usually formed from a variation of dried caper leaves, nettles, thistles, mallow, and Ground Ivy. Vegetable rennet is suitable for Kosher and Halal cheeses. To get started I had to buy 3 litres of organic full fat milk from the supermarket because my local Farmer has only gone and sold his farm. A sign of the current climate, I guess. It’s a real shame because nothing could beat unpasteurised milk straight from the cow. My cow was Tesco.
To get started you need:
3 litres of full fat milk
1/4 teaspoon of rennet
A large pot to heat milk
Metal slated spoon
Large sharp knife
Deep roasting tray
This is how I made cheese. The technique is not written in stone as you will find from the internet searches. As like all of my experiments I learn by doing. To really get started you have to make sure everything is sterile. As in beer making, bacteria can be your enemy. Take that extra care here. You can use your dishwasher on it’s hottest wash to get the tools ready. Once you have everything clean and sterile you can begin. Pour the milk into the pot and gently heat it to 37C . Keep stirring to ensure the milk doesn’t burn. Once it has reached this temperature cover it and take it off the heat. Carefully place the hot pot of milk into a deep roasting tray. Pour some freshly boiled water into the tray. This will help maintain the heat of the milk. Add 1/4 teaspoon of rennet to the milk and stir gently. Cover again and leave it work for around 1 hour. Adding rennet actually works straight away but I felt it worked better when I left it. Once the hour has passed uncover the mixture and slice it in a cross hatch design. Basically slice the curd vertically and then horizontally across the pot. You will immediately see the curds and whey separate. The white pieces are the curds and the liquid is the whey. Gently stir this to allow more of the whey release. If you want you can use a cheese cloth for draining, I didn’t because I used a plastic sieve. So you can now drain off the whey into a pot. This by product is a great source of protein so keep it as long as you can. We made scones using it. On self sustaining farms this whey is often fed to the animals. Little Ms Muffet knew her stuff. Now you have your curd in the sieve, gently rinse it under a cold tap to remove any excess curd. Carefully mould the curd into ball shapes and store in water in the fridge. As an exercise I split the batch in two. I stored one half in fresh water and the other half in salted water. The taste difference was amazing. The fresh water cheese had a very dairy flavour while the salted had a more savoury taste. I have also stored a batch in olive oil with herbs.
The cover photo is a portion of the cheese charred in our clay oven and served with honey and pistachio nuts. I saw this recipe on an episode of Mind of a Chef and had to try it. It is exquisite.
I have been meaning to do this for ages. Your post has encouraged me again. I love that you experimented with different aging processes.