Backyard Farming Forum

Kat's Cheese-Making Foray
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Author:  katmac [ Thu Oct 09, 2014 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Kat's Cheese-Making Foray


Having recently been advised how easy it is to make one's own Mozzarella cheese, and then Ricotta from the whey, I have decided to dive headfirst into yet another step on the path to self-sustainability (sort of). Cheese-making.

I figure this skill will hold me in good stead for when I run away to the country and buy a herd of cows, eventually, as soon as they work out a foolproof way to deter snakes from vast open spaces :bash:

So, after making a more than semi-succesful batch of Mozzarella on Tuesday night, I decided this was something I could do. Even better, the temperatures involved means that it's something the munchkin can help me out with as well.

I know many of you already dabble in this, but for the uninitiated I thought I would log my attempts, both successes and failures. Hopefully this inspires someone else to have a go, or to get back into it.

The ingredients to make Mozzarella, in it's most basic form, can all be purchased from your local Coles or Woolworths so it's a good first cheese to try at home.

For a single batch:

Buy a thermometer. I used a cheap one from the chemist because it's all I could find, but it was a bit hit and miss with it's small range. A milk thermometer is great.

3.8L (US gallon) of whole milk. I used Bannister Downs, because it's my favourite, and is relatively unaltered. You can use any milk you like, except for UHT milk which won't give you curds. Raw milk would be best, but can't be sold un-pasteurised in Australia. The next best is pasteurised but non-homogenised milk. In reality, anything is fine for your first go :)

1.25 teaspoons of Citric Acid dissolved in 1/4 cup un-chlorinated (i.e. not tap) water. This can be found in the baking aisle with bicarb soda and the like.

Rennet. Now, in the supermarket, the best you can hope to find is Junket Rennet Tablets. These are not pure rennet, and therefore you will need to use more than if you were using pure rennet tablets or liquid. I got good results with 1 full tablet, crushed and dissolved in 1/4 cup water.

Over a low-medium heat, slowly bring the milk up to 32C (88F) and add the dissolved acid and stir to combine.

Maintain this temperature and add the dissolved rennet. Stir thoroughly to combine, using a gentle up and down chopping action, for no more than 20 seconds.

Now, without poking or prodding, leave the mixture to separate into curds and whey (Miss Muffet's favourite) for 20-40 minutes. It could take more or less depending on your exact quantities, type of milk, temperature, type of rennet etc. Be flexible.

After this time, you should be able to see that the milk has formed a solid curd at the surface. You are looking for a 'clean break', which is when a knife or finger pulled up through the curd, leaves a distinct line where the curd separates from the whey.

At this point you can cut the curd, either into 1cm cubes with a long knife, or by gently chopping with a balloon whisk.

Bring the temperature slowly to 40C (105F) and gently stir the curds to stop them from matting together. The added heat firms the curds, so you want to keep gently stirring until they have firmed up a little. Anywhere from 3-15 minutes apparently. Don't let the mix get over 45C, try and keep it at a constant 40C.

Scoop out the curds into a colander and retain the whey to make ricotta.
Add salt at this point (non-iodised) and push the curds around to drain the whey. How much whey you push out, determines how moist or dry the cheese is.
Some recipes reccommend microwaving the curd to expel more whey, which I did, but I felt that this dried out the cheese too much.

Next time, I will heat up my whey to about 80-90C and using my slotted spoon I will dunk batches of curd into the whey bath to heat up, and then knead, using a folding action (use gloves - it's hot!) to get the stretchy and shiny character of mozzarella.

Once stretched and shaped into a ball, dunk into a bowl of iced salt water to halt the cooking process.

If you are having issues kneading, add more heat (dunk again), but beware that overheating and overworking will lose some of the flavour and texture.

Have a google, watch some YouTube videos, and just enjoy experimenting!

Author:  katmac [ Thu Oct 09, 2014 6:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

Clean-ish break:
File comment: Clean break
photo.JPG [ 84.08 KiB | Viewed 20860 times ]

Chopped Curds, Straining, Drained Curds, & Finished Product:
combo.jpg [ 200.04 KiB | Viewed 20860 times ]

Author:  katmac [ Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

After enjoying the fruits of my labour for both lunch and dinner yesterday, today I picked up my 'kit' from The Cheesemaker so that I can experiment with some other styles of cheeses, plus now having some stronger vegetarian rennet to use, and lipase enzyme to add more flavour to my cheeses.

I will hold off on anything more adventurous until I have got to a point with mozzarella where I am confident that I'm getting a consistent result each time. I am also definitely going to book myself (and OH) on a course with Tanya out in the Swan Valley. What a fabulously civilized way to spend a day:) I think that would make a great Christmas adventure for us.

My kit (Classic Delights) consists of:

4x small square hoops (molds)
50mL vegetarian rennet
50mL calcium chloride
Camembert/Fetta Starter Culture
Lipase Enzyme
Natural Yohgurt Culture

I chose this one because I wanted to try making my own yoghurt as well, and it had everything I needed to start with.

On top of this kit I added:

White Mould Spores
1x small round hoop (mold) This is tiny though, so I see me buying a bigger one soon.

From another supplier on eBay, I have purchased:

3x 10pk tablets vegetarian rennet
1x Mesophilic Culture
1x Penicillium Roqueforti (yep, Blue Vein Cheese!)

I am neither here nor there when it comes to blue cheese, but it does look like terrific fun to make, and to watch mature.

Again, I'd like to stress I'm not going to try any of these just yet, as I want to get properly set up, and a bit of practice in first. I also need to sort a cheese cave to mature my cheeses, as a normal refrigerator isn't humid enough. Apparently a wine fridge will do nicely. Hmmmm Gumtree...

Author:  katmac [ Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

Made more cheese last night! Must get gloves... These are a bit wrinkly thanks to my burning hands giving in too easily. Image

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Author:  Charlie [ Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

This is great Kat. I most definately will give it a try, and thanks for the descriptive post.

Author:  katmac [ Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

Thanks Charlie, one thing though, I just realised there's a typo. It's meant to say 3.8L milk!

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Author:  Snags [ Sat Oct 11, 2014 3:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

Looks good

Whats the cost analysis of milk to cheese?

Litres per grams of cheese

Author:  katmac [ Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

As with anything, it depends on the quality of your ingredients. The most recent batch was made with Coles brand $2 for 2L, and the cost of rennet and citric acid is in the 10-20 cents range per batch. I added some cream though because I had it in the fridge, and this increased my curd yield. I'll do some experimenting and log my results for you all :-)

Argh I just read that properly sorry. 3.8L milk will yield about 400-500g cheese, depending in the fat content, and method of pasteurization and homogenization used by the processing factory. But, if you add the extra 200mL of milk left over to the whey, you also get a batch of ricotta, enough to stuff 4 or 5 mushrooms :-) I know that's not very scientific... Next time I will weigh everything and calculate costs as well.

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Author:  Snags [ Sun Oct 12, 2014 9:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

Thats sounds pretty good
$4 worth of milk makes $12 worth of Mozzarella and $2 worth of ricotta........ish

Author:  katmac [ Mon Oct 13, 2014 11:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

Yep that sounds about right.
I think the real cost savings will come in when I get to things like feta and haloumi, which we eat mountains of, and are even more expensive to buy. The ingredients don't change too much, it might go up to about 50c for the different cultures, but the milk and rennet stays the same.
The only cost is time, and it's fun and relaxing, so no cost at all really :)

Author:  Snags [ Mon Oct 13, 2014 9:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

Sounds good
I go through a bit cheese mozzarella haloumi and feta
I dont mind ricotta and would use it more if it was about fresh.
Definitely on the to do list

Author:  onepower [ Sun Nov 23, 2014 10:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

Where is the update that you promised everyone! Haha

Author:  Peasants [ Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

Looks great katmac. We have done some mozzarella and ricotta have inspired me to do it again!

Author:  Perpetuitas [ Thu Jan 29, 2015 9:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kat's Cheese-Making Foray

That looks fantastic and it is covered in awesome sauce as well!

Good job!

My girlfriend wants to make cheese herself, so I will show her your efforts!

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