How to make cheese – cheesemaking

Cheesemaking is a way of preserving surplus milk, with the aid of certain bacteria, to make a nutritious food that is easier to digest than milk itself. Good-tasting results, however, take time, practice, and patience.

Hard cheeses such as Swiss and Cheddar have been pressed and aged for several months to develop their fine, rich flavor. You must work with at least 4 gallons of milk to make a hard cheese that will age well, so it is better to try soft or fresh cheeses first.

All equipment-of enamel, stainless steel, glass, or wood-should be meticulously clean; unwanted bacteria may introduce unpleasant flavors. Use raw milk that has been pasteurized (heated to 162F for 20 seconds) or reconstituted dried milk. Homogenized milk is unsuitable. Basic soft cheese This recipe, carefully made, produces a slightly granular soft cheese that can be eaten immediately but which will keep for up to 3 weeks under refrigeration. You will need a 5-quart pot, set in a larger pan partly filled with water, or a double boiler of the same size, and a thermometer with gradations of at least 70 to 120F

Warm 1 gallon of milk with 1 cup unpasteurized, cultured buttermilk to 92F Dissolve ‘/4 tablet of rennet (available at drugstores) in 1/2 cup cool water and stir thoroughly into the milk. Then leave the pan of milk undisturbed in a warm place for about half an hour, or until the milk coagulates into a jellylike mass.

When the coagulated milk can be pulled cleanly away from the side of the pan with a knife or spoon, cut the curds (solids) into 1-inch cubes with a long knife. Return the cubes to the pot and reheat them to around 92F Stir gently at this temperature for 30 minutes. Stir in 3 teaspoons salt. Hang the curds to drain in cheesecloth or fine muslin. Drain for 3 to 12 hours depending on how moist or dry a cheese you want. Store the cheese in a clean container in the refrigerator.