Most people are so used to buying cheese from the store that it doesn’t occur to them that they could easily make homemade cheese at home!
Many store-bought cheeses are high in sodium and contain preservatives to increase their shelf-life. Home made cheese is lighter, fresher and often much tastier.
There are so many different types of cheeses. Different textures, flavors and consistencies make up various cheese varieties. Below is a simple homemade cheese recipe and one for a lovely homemade mozzarella cheese.
Farmers Cheese (fresh white cheese)
- 1 quart fresh whole milk (2 pints)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- Pour the milk into a large pot and gently heat to 175 degrees or just as the milk begins to bubble around the edges, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from burning on the bottom.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the buttermilk and then the lemon juice. This will begin to form curds and whey in the milk. Don’t be frightened if it looks like your milk is curdling – it is! The acidity in the lemon will cause the milk to curdle. Your cheese is created from these curds. If your milk doesn’t curdle within 30 seconds then add another tsp of lemon juice.
- When the curds begin to move away from the sides on their own, they’re ready. The whey will turn a yellow/greenish color, while your curds should be a milky white.
- Use a cheese strainer, or place a double layer of muslin cloth into a sieve and then spoon the curdled milk through this. The whey will drain away, leaving you the thicker curds inside the muslin cloth.
- After 10 minutes, take the muslin out of the sieve and tie the top with twine. Attach to a wooden spoon and suspend over a deep bowl allowing the cheese to drain for a further 30 minutes.
- Cut the twine and pop your homemade cheese into a bowl, it will be in a nice neat ball shape so break it up and then mix in the salt. Reshape then place in an air tight container, refrigerate and enjoy.
Spoon the cheese into one large or 4 mini ramekins and press down (this cheese makes a really good appetizer and tastes even better made a day in advance) cover with plastic wrap then chill.
Turn out onto a plate, drizzle with olive oil, ground black pepper and top with a walnut.
Try adding a flavor such as herbs, spices, dried garlic or onion to your homemade cheese. Either add the flavor with the salt or roll the cheese into small balls and coat the cheese with your chosen flavor.
Homemade Mozzarella Cheese
Nothing tops a homemade pizza better than fresh, homemade mozzarella cheese and it’s perfect in a toasted sandwich. This cheese does require a little more effort to make than a basic cheese, but once you’ve tried it once, you’ll see how easy it is once you get the hang of it.
You can buy rennet and citric acid from most health-food stores. For chlorine-free water, try bottled water or you can boil some tap water and then allow it to cool for a similar effect.
- 8 1/2 pints (4 liters) whole milk
- 2 teaspoons citric acid
- 1/4 cup cold chlorine-free water
- 1/2 rennet tablet
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- Crush 1/2 rennet tablet into 1/4 cup of cold, chlorine-free water and stir it until it’s dissolved. Leave to one side for now.
- Pour the milk into a pot and heat over a medium heat. Sprinkle the citric acid over the milk surface and stir it in. You will need a cooking thermometer for this step, as you’ll need to heat the milk to 88F (31C). You should notice the milk begins to form curds at this point.
- When the milk reaches 88F (31c), pour in the dissolved rennet and stir slowly from time to time. Continue to heat the milk until it reaches 105F (40C). Remove the milk from the heat and leave to one side. The milk will begin to separate into curds and whey. The curds will look thick and white, while the whey should be a deep yellow/greenish color.
- Drain off some of the whey and then use a slotted spoon to scoop out the curds and place them into a mesh strainer. Press the curds gently with the back of the spoon to remove as much whey liquid as possible.
- Place the curds into a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for a minute. More whey will separate at this stage. Drain it off the curds and then use a spoon to press the curds in the center, then scoop up the sides and press these into the center. Flatten the center again, then scoop up the sides and fold them into the center. You should ‘knead’ the curds into a ball this way until they form a ball shape.
- Heat in the microwave for a further 30 seconds on high and drain off any whey that has separated. Knead the curds with your spoon once again until you have a nice ball shape. Heat the curds one more time in the microwave for another 30 seconds.
- When the cheese has cooled down enough to handle, place it onto a clean surface or bench and knead it like you would with bread dough. Sprinkle the salt over the cheese and knead it in well.
- Your homemade cheese will start to become stretchy and shiny. If it doesn’t stretch or if it breaks while you’re trying to stretch it, put it back into the microwave for 20 seconds, then knead once again.
- Once your homemade cheese is easy to stretch, pull it into a long rope. Fold it in half and stretch it out again. Now you can shape your mozzarella into golf-ball sized rounds or you can roll it into a log.