How to Make Cheese

Happy Friday!  My computer decided to work today.  So, I thought you could use a dose of Mama Winemaker!  Today she is sharing her story about making cheese at home!  It is delicious with her home-made wine.  Follow along with Mama Winemaker and her Wine Making Series.

WINE AND CHEESE?
Why, Yes!

While enjoying a glass of my lovely, home-made Australian Chardonnay, noshing on artisanal  flavorful cheeses, tapenade and crackers….it came to me…why not make my own artisanal cheese!  Right?
I started to research “making cheese” on-line, and I even told my family members of my desire to cross this item off my “bucket list”.  I even started to research “where to buy sheep and goat milk”.
To my amazement, for my December birthday, I received a delivery of a “DIY Cheese Kit for making Ricotta and Mozzarella” from my lovely daughter, the Wineabe.  Yeah!

The delivery came right when I was in the middle of baking my own birthday cake, but I was so excited to receive it, I opened the box right away and started to read the instructions for making the Ricotta.  As my hubby was already halfway out the door to go run some errands, I called after him to also pick up an additional gallon of milk for me, this time “whole milk”.  My hubby was half-way to the car, he turned around and stated that we do not drink “whole milk” anymore, what was I talking about?  I then had to tell him I was going to start making cheese, as soon as he comes home with the whole milk.  He looked at me in disbelief!

Upon my hubby’s return from the grocery store, with the gallon of whole milk, my hubby asked:  “and how many gadgets do we have to buy now, which are not included in that “everything you need to start making home-made cheese?”  (I guess my hubby still remembers how I first started to make wine, not everything was included in that kit.)  I laughed and laughed and assured him I had everything on hand.  Really!  Really?

DIY_Cheese_Kit

I checked off the items, as I took them out of the box:  Cheese Salt, Citric Acid, Bi-Therm thermometer, Cheese cloth, and….sure enough….the “Rennet Tablets” were missing from the box, which are needed to make the Mozzarella.  Bah Humbug!

So, I called the Customer Service number and explained to the person that the DIY Cheese Kit was not complete, the Rennet Tablets are missing and Mozzarella cannot be made without the Rennet Tablets.  The CSR person transferred me once and put me on hold 3 times and finally stated they will send out another DIY Cheese Kit and hopefully that kit will be complete.  Super!

In the meantime, I decided to start making the Ricotta.  By this time, in case you are wondering, I already finished baking my birthday cake.  LOL!  Per the instructions, I gathered the needed items to make the Ricotta:

Small bowl, Large pot (at least 5 quarts), Large slotted spoon, Cooking thermometer (included), Colander, Fine cheesecloth (included), Large heat-resistant bowl.

 Note:  Do not use aluminum or cast-iron pots and utensils, as they will react with the acid in the recipe.  Sterilize the cheesecloth, pots and utensils by boiling them in water for 5 minutes.  Clean kitchen surfaces and supplies well and often.

Here I am sharing with you the recipe for making Fresh Ricotta:

    ½ cup cool, chlorine-free water
1 tsp. citric acid (included)
1 gallon whole milk
1 tsp. cheese salt, or to taste (included)

My hubby asked:  “And how BADLY will this smell up the kitchen?”  Oh!  Quickly I answered: “What a good question, thank you for reminding me to turn on the exhaust fan!” As I had never made home-made cheese before, I really did not have the answer to that question at this time.

Step 1:  Pour the water into the small bowl and stir in the citric acid.

Step 2:  Pour the milk into the large pot, add the citric acid solution and cheese salt and stir well.

Step 3:  Set the pot over medium heat and stir, gently, checking the bottom of the pot with the slotted spoon for any scorching, EVERY 2 minutes or so.  Avoid stirring as much as possible to allow curds to form.  If the milk seems to be sticking, reduce the heat to medium-low.  Heat the milk to 180 degrees to 185 degrees F; do not allow the mixture to boil over.

How_to_make_cheese

Step 3 took the LONGEST….probably close to an hour….if not longer….actually, it seemed like an ETERNITY.  Truthfully, I was getting weak in the knees already from standing!  I pulled a bar-stool next to the stove, sat on that, and watched the clock on the stove, and stirred EVERY two minutes.  I told my hubby that this cheese-making was for someone who had nothing else to do.  My hubby burst out laughing and stated:  “This is just right for you, you are now retired, remember?”  Okay, so this was our LOL moment!

While stirring, I remembered my Mom’s saying:  A watched pot never boils!!  Well, that saying is spot on; my pot never did boil, only close to it!  And, the smell was not bad at all, only the smell of warm milk, and my hubby never complained about the smell, either!

Patiently, I kept stirring EVERY two minutes, and checking the temperature……still only 140 degrees…..more stirring and checking the temperature….still only 155 degrees.  I found it very interesting, though, to see the curds taking shape, while separating from the whey.   FINALLY.…SUCCESS….the thermometer was at 185 degrees.

How_to_Make_Ricotta_Cheese

I was now at Step 4:  As soon as the curds and whey separate clearly (you will see white curds floating in yellowish whey, when you move the curds), turn off the heat.  Let stand, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.

Making_Ricotta_Cheese

YES!  On to Step 5:  Line a colander with the cheesecloth; if you want to keep the whey, place a large heat-resistant bowl under the colander, and then carefully pour the curds and whey into the colander.  Drain until the cheese reaches the desired consistency, 15 to 30 minutes.  To expedite the process, gently lift the cheesecloth by the corners and rock the curds around.  The cheese may be served or used in recipes immediately.  Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  Makes about 1 lb.

How_to_make_homemade_cheese

Hurray!  I did it!  I made Ricotta, and can now cross “making home-made cheese” off my mental bucket list.

Mama_Winemaker_Making_Cheese

My hubby was surprised to see Ricotta, after all that stirring!  This Ricotta will be great in my Lasagna recipe.  And the Lasagna will taste even better, when paired with my home-made, ruby-red, luscious Chilean Merlot, yum!

Lasagna_with_Homemade_Cheese

I am now patiently waiting for the delivery of the second DIY Cheese Kit, which hopefully includes the Rennet Tablets needed to make the Mozzarella.  FYI, making Mozzarella takes “12 Steps” to follow; so…for sure….I will enjoy a glass of wine, to make the “stirring less boring”!  Cheers!!!!

By Mama Winemaker     01-06-13

Wow!  So amazing!  I wish I could have tried some of Mama Winemaker’s Homemade cheese!  I’m hungry now.  Have you ever attempted making cheese before?  How did it work out for you?

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