Today, I MUST make cheese. I didn't make it the other day like I said I was going to and now I have over 5 gallons of milk in the fridge. It's not like making cheese is hard, it really isn't that difficult. I'm just the worlds worst procrastinator.
So far in my short cheese making career I've only made mozzarella ( a lot), ricotta, chevre (easy and great on crackers) and feta (just once). I'd really love to master making feta. So far, in my one try, I failed. We ate it but not in the way feta is typically eaten. It didn't taste like feta and didn't crumble like feta. It was too salty and too dry. We grated it on our spaghetti, kind of like parmesan cheese.
The biggest difficulty I've had in cheese making so far is salt. Most recipes say "salt to taste". So it's a big guessing game. And the time I made feta I followed the recipe exactly with regard to salt and I about choked on the cheese it was so salty!
Part of what I am doing wrong is that I haven't ordered the special molds, lipase and cultures yet. Mozzarella and feta both say lipase is optional but when I go here and read about cheese making it says that I won't get the taste I "expect" without it.
This is what we start with: stainless steel stockpot, 1 gallon of fresh unpasteurized goat milk, cheese cloth, ceramic bowl, stainless steel slotted spoon, citric acid powder, rennet.
Here is what I am making today: These recipes come from this book. I have made a few changes from the book.
1 1/2 level tsp. citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1 gallon raw goats milk (the book says any milk but I've heard that ultra-pasteurized milk doesn't make good cheese)
1/8-1/4 tsp lipase powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water and sit for 20 minutes. (optional)
1/4 tsp liquid rennet, diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
1 tsp salt (I use much more but maybe because I don't use the lipase which I really want to try.)
1. Heat the milk to 55 degrees. While stirring, add the citric acid solution and mix thoroughly. If you are using lipase add it now.
2. Heat the milk to 88 degrees over medium-low heat. (The milk will start to curdle.)
3. Gently mix in the diluted rennet, stirring with an up and down motion. Continue heating until the temperature reaches 100-105 degrees.
4. Turn off the heat. the curds should be pulling away from the sides of the pot. (I let it sit off the heat for a few minutes before moving on. One book I read says to sit for 15 minutes, but this particular recipe doesn't.)
5. Scoop curds out of pot into a microwavable bowl. The curds should look like thick yogurt and have a bit of a shine. Press the curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much whey as you can. Reserve the whey for making ricotta if you want.
6. Microwave the curds on high for 1 minute. Pour off excess whey. Gently fold cheese over and over, pouring off excess whey as it appears. This distributes the heat throughout the cheese, which will eventually get too hot to touch at which point I use a big wooden spoon to knead.
7. Microwave 2 more times for 30 seconds, kneading with hands or spoon between and pouring off whey as it appears.
8. Knead quickly until smooth. When the cheese becomes elastic, start to pull and stretch it (like you would pull taffy). If it breaks, the curds need to be reheated.
9. When the cheese is smooth and shiny, roll into log or small balls and eat warm. Or place in bowl of ice water for about a half hour to produce a conssitently smooth texture. If you must wait, cover it and store in refrigerator.
I then make Ricotta from the whey. The Ricotta recipe I like and use is from a different book though, this one, with slight variations of my own.
1 gallon fresh whey
1 1/2 quarts whole goat milk
In a large kettle, heat whey to 200 degrees. when the whey has reached 200 degrees, slowly stir in the whole goat milk. Bring it back to 200 degrees, stirring often to keep from scorching.
The Ricotta is ready to drain when you see little white flecks forming in the pot ( have found larger "curds" then they lead you to believe).
Line a colander with cheese cloth and pour the curds into the cloth.
Hang to drain for 1 hour.
When drained remove from cloth and add salt to taste.
Refrigerate for up to a week.
Those are my 2 favorite to make, because they are easiest.
Today I might try some chevre if I have time. If I do I'll post the recipe tomorrow. But for now I must run!!! Please forgive typos if there are any as I don't have time to proofread.