Author Topic: Homemade Cheese?  (Read 2016 times)

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SleepyKitty

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Homemade Cheese?
« on: October 14, 2012, 03:25:38 PM »
Has anyone made their own cheese before? I'm thinking of trying it with a simple Labneh to eat with pitas and crackers. But I have never made my own cheese or yoghurt or anything like that before, so I'm a little bit wary. Any advice?

buvezdevin

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2012, 03:39:19 PM »
I had to look up labneh, which I gather is a strained yogurt with a bit of salt.

I have made yogurt, and ricotta, both of which are very easy to do - you will want milk which has not been ultapasteurized, some cheesecloth, a food thermometer and a yogurt "starter" which can just be a couple tablespoons of active culture yogurt.

There are a number of methods/recipes which very slightly though all are simple and straight forward, you may want to Google and scan a couple to see some options.

I prefer those which do not use powdered milk (I think it leads to a less creamy texture), and I use whole milk but 2% will also work well.
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blarg314

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2012, 09:29:50 PM »

Acid based cheeses are good to make at home - think Indian Panner, or something like cottage cheese. 

Take 2L of milk, bring to a boil, stir in 3T fresh lemon juice, and stir until the milk separates into clumps, floating in a clear, yellowish liquid (the whey) Let it sit for about half an hour, and then strain it through cheesecloth.  The result is a cottage cheese like cheese. You can then press the cheese (spread it out on one plate, and put another on top, and weigh it down) overnight, and this will give you a firm, cutable cheese. It can be fried, but won't melt.

For yoghurt cheese, you need to start with pure yoghurt (ie, nothing that has stabilizers or thickeners in it).  Be especially careful of fat free yoghurt, which is often bulked out with other stuff. Pour the yoghurt into a cheesecloth bag, hang it from a cupboard handle or other convenient place, with a bowl underneath it, and let it drain for a few hours or overnight. The result is a thick, tangy, cream-cheese like cheese. The longer you strain it, the thicker it will get.

To make your own yoghurt, this is the method I use. Get one of those glass casserole dishes that comes with a snap on plastic lid, about 1.7 L in capacity. Pour in 1 L of milk (preferably not skim), put it in the microwave and microwave until it reaches 85 C. The first time, do for five minutes, and then at 1 minute intervals, to figure out how much time this takes in your microwave. Remove, carefully, and let cool to 50 C.  Add a package of yoghurt culture, stir well, and snap on the cover. Put in a warm place until it's nice and thick. I've found that you can ferment it at room temperature, it just takes longer - up to 36 hours. Refrigerate once it's at the right thickness. Make sure everything (spoon, container, thermometer) is sterile before making it. I pour boiling water into the casserole dish, let it sit, and then drain it carefully before starting.

Rennet based cheeses (ie, most cheeses that we're familiar with) are not something I've done, but my understanding is that these are more complicated to do at home,  and in most situations an uncured cheese like mozarella is all that is really practical, unless you plan to get into it in a big way and set up proper aging rooms and the like.

cicero

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2012, 03:34:54 AM »
Has anyone made their own cheese before? I'm thinking of trying it with a simple Labneh to eat with pitas and crackers. But I have never made my own cheese or yoghurt or anything like that before, so I'm a little bit wary. Any advice?
I've made Labneh many times, it's pretty much foolproof (follow the method that blarg314 posted). I've also made cream cheese with the same method, only using sour cream instead of the yoghurt. And I made cottage cheese a few times but wasn't overly impressed with the results.

If you want to go a bit fancy, after the labneh is ready, you can roll the cheese into balls, put in a jar and cover with olive oil

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Pippen

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2012, 04:22:10 PM »
I make ricotta and mozzarella from a cheese making kit I got of the internet. It's pretty easy and a lot lot cheaper than buying it.

buvezdevin

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2012, 07:29:54 PM »
I make ricotta and mozzarella from a cheese making kit I got of the internet. It's pretty easy and a lot lot cheaper than buying it.

Me, too for the mozzarella, kit bought through Amazon and fun to use, mainly needed the rennet and citric acid, but it cost no more To get the full kit, and happy to have the additional thermometer, cheesecloth and illustrated instructions.

For yogurt and ricotta, I have made each without needing anything more than vinegar (more certain acidity than lemon juice) and cheesecloth - and some yogurt from a prior batch for the starter, plus milk, of course.

Strained home-made yogurt, yummmmm.  Haven't tried labneh, but interested - OP, please let us know how it goes!
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
Mark Twain

Pippen

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2012, 12:36:13 AM »
I make ricotta and mozzarella from a cheese making kit I got of the internet. It's pretty easy and a lot lot cheaper than buying it.

Me, too for the mozzarella, kit bought through Amazon and fun to use, mainly needed the rennet and citric acid, but it cost no more To get the full kit, and happy to have the additional thermometer, cheesecloth and illustrated instructions.

For yogurt and ricotta, I have made each without needing anything more than vinegar (more certain acidity than lemon juice) and cheesecloth - and some yogurt from a prior batch for the starter, plus milk, of course.

Strained home-made yogurt, yummmmm.  Haven't tried labneh, but interested - OP, please let us know how it goes!

Now all I need is to find someone with water buffaloes I could milk and I will be sorted.

blarg314

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2012, 04:05:40 AM »

Now all I need is to find someone with water buffaloes I could milk and I will be sorted.

 ;D

There are two main reasons I haven't done rennet based cheeses at home. One is that the milk I can get locally isn't really all that great - I live in a very non-dairy oriented society, plus getting the rennet would be problematic, even by mail order, once you factor in international customs.  Another is the climate - very high humidity, which isn't great for cheese making.

I am thinking of learning how to make tofu, though. I've had homemade soft tofu, and it's as different from store-bought stuff as cheese whiz is from a nice ripe Brie.


Sophia

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2012, 09:17:56 AM »
Ricotta using the microwave.  Truly excellent. 

SleepyKitty

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2012, 09:43:32 AM »
Thanks for all the tips, everyone! I'll definitely let you guys know how it goes - I'm a complete cheese addict so it makes sense to me to start making my own. Plus, mozzarella is so expensive, and I eat so much of it! If the Labnah goes well, mozzarella is the next step. I haven't ever made my own yoghurt, just because I really don't eat it, but I might start just for the sake of making cheese if I can get the hang of it.

Someday I'd like to get into rennet cheeses, but I'm thinking years in the future when I have my own grown-up house... and hopefully a mini-farm with a dairy cow and a goat.  ;) I love goat cheese so much it should be illegal.

Sophia

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2012, 12:50:28 PM »
I remember hearing the story behind a maker of goat cheese.  The parents of the guy running it were Hippies who bought some land and planted Apple trees.  They wanted Apples for people to eat but they did not do what was required, so the Apples weren't edible by people.  So, they got goats. The goats made more goats.  There is a limited desire for goat milk, so they made goat cheese.  It was good, and became popular and a (small) company was formed. 
My husband and I are looking at a house in a farming town on 1.5 acres.  I floated the idea of a goat in our future. 

SleepyKitty

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2012, 01:07:42 PM »
Well goats are just awesome anyways  ;D I'd love a goat just to have, but if I can get some goat cheese out of it, so much the better!

Pippen

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2012, 09:18:29 PM »
Well goats are just awesome anyways  ;D I'd love a goat just to have, but if I can get some goat cheese out of it, so much the better!

Goats are great! I don't like goats cheese so they would be safe from my tender mercies. We had about 50 of them when I was a kid but good luck trying to get them to stay in a paddock or do anything they don't want to do which is generally running away from you at great speed.

SamiHami

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2012, 11:11:13 PM »
I've been making cheese for a couple of years. it's a great hobby! Yogurts and soft cheeses are all pretty easy; hard cheeses can be quite complicated (although I did make an awesome cheddar once!). As a rule I make my own yogurt, cottage cheese and mozzarella. Oh, and I've made feta also.

I have made cheese with goat milk, but I personally prefer cow milk. The texture is different and cow milk imo is easier to work with, although I like the taste of goat cheese just fine. While you can use pasteurized (but not ultrapasteurized) milk to make some of the soft cheeses, I personally think it's better if you can get your hands on fresh milk straight from the cow.

You shouldn't need rennet for soft cheeses. Vinegar or lemon juice work well for those and sometimes you don't even need those depending on what you are making. Also, as you say that you aren't in an area with easy access to higher quality milk, you may not be aware that you can make some excellent soft cheeses using dried milk. I know it sounds crazy, but powdered cow or goat milk is easy to obtain and really does work! I doubt I would try it for a more complex hard cheese, but for a labneh or other soft cheese/yogurt it should work very well.

Please feel free to PM me if you want more detailed info. I have many books on the subject of cheesemaking and while I am definitely no expert, I am fairly knowledgeable on he topic.

My latest thing is making kombucha at home. At $3.50 a bottle at Earth Fare it is way too expensive to buy. Making my own is easy and much, much cheaper. Now if I could just get my DH on board with me keeping bees in the back yard; but I don't think I will win that one. He's pretty tolerant of my constant experimenting, but he's adamant about this... ;D

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

Pippen

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Re: Homemade Cheese?
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2012, 02:17:19 AM »
I've been making cheese for a couple of years. it's a great hobby! Yogurts and soft cheeses are all pretty easy; hard cheeses can be quite complicated (although I did make an awesome cheddar once!). As a rule I make my own yogurt, cottage cheese and mozzarella. Oh, and I've made feta also.

I have made cheese with goat milk, but I personally prefer cow milk. The texture is different and cow milk imo is easier to work with, although I like the taste of goat cheese just fine. While you can use pasteurized (but not ultrapasteurized) milk to make some of the soft cheeses, I personally think it's better if you can get your hands on fresh milk straight from the cow.

You shouldn't need rennet for soft cheeses. Vinegar or lemon juice work well for those and sometimes you don't even need those depending on what you are making. Also, as you say that you aren't in an area with easy access to higher quality milk, you may not be aware that you can make some excellent soft cheeses using dried milk. I know it sounds crazy, but powdered cow or goat milk is easy to obtain and really does work! I doubt I would try it for a more complex hard cheese, but for a labneh or other soft cheese/yogurt it should work very well.

Please feel free to PM me if you want more detailed info. I have many books on the subject of cheesemaking and while I am definitely no expert, I am fairly knowledgeable on he topic.

My latest thing is making kombucha at home. At $3.50 a bottle at Earth Fare it is way too expensive to buy. Making my own is easy and much, much cheaper. Now if I could just get my DH on board with me keeping bees in the back yard; but I don't think I will win that one. He's pretty tolerant of my constant experimenting, but he's adamant about this... ;D

What about one of these for his Christmas present list...

http://inhabitat.com/philips-unveils-sexy-concept-bee-keeping-gadget/