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How To Make Soft Cheese, The Simple Way

Image source: kelliesfoodtoglow.com [1]

Image source: kelliesfoodtoglow.com

Making cheese at home from your own animals is a good way to use up all that milk you’ve got filling your refrigerator.

Even if you only have one cow giving you milk, you’ve still got six to eight gallons of milk to use every day – yes, EVERY DAY! – and no one can drink that much milk in a day. The good news is that you’ll still have plenty of milk to drink while you make butter and cheese out of the rest of the milk. If you make your own butter from the milk your goats or cow provides you, save the leftover liquid, since it makes a great addition to your cheese-making efforts.

You don’t need a lot of fancy, expensive equipment to make cheese at home, either. You probably have almost everything you need already in your kitchen. It is always best to have a set of equipment dedicated to JUST making cheese so you avoid odd colors, flavors or other contamination from other sources.


Stainless steel or enamel pot. Due to the acid content that will be introduced in the process of making your cheese, you want to avoid chipped enamel, rusty spots and aluminum pots. This will introduce bitter flavors, and the aluminum can leech into your milk, causing a discoloration and bad taste to the resulting product. A double boiler can be used instead.

Ladle or slotted spoon. This will be used to dip the curds out of the remaining liquid.

Colander. This will be used to drain the whey from the curds to the desired firmness.

Cheesecloth. You will want the muslin or cotton-type cloth. It can be washed and used for a very long time before it wears out. Make sure you get your cheesecloth from a cheese-making supplier, since the stuff marketed as cheesecloth nowadays is not really suitable for draining your curds.

Thermometer. You can purchase a floating cheese thermometer if you choose. However, any thermometer that reads between 35 and 170 degrees (Fahrenheit) will work.

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Long knife or thin, flat-bladed spatula. This will be used to cut the curds after the milk curdles. Any flat-bladed knife or spatula will work, so long as it is long enough to reach the bottom of your pot. If you are using an enamel pot, be careful not to scratch the enamel coating, since doing so would make your pot unsuitable for cheese-making.

Salt. You will want to use kosher, canning or any other non-iodized salt for seasoning your cheese. Any salt with iodine will impart a greenish color to your finished cheese.

Image source: leeners.com [3]

Image source: leeners.com

Cultures. Cheese-making cultures basically “inoculate” your milk against bad bacteria that can cause illness or unexpected results in your finished product. Cultures fall into two different categories: Thermophilic and Mesophilic. These can be purchased as a freeze-dried powder. They are living organisms, so it is best if they are kept in the freezer between uses.

Some kind of coagulant. This will cause the curds to form. Here are three options:

Remember that milk straight from the cow or goat contains a lot more butter fat than the pasteurized milk you will get at the store. This will form richer tasting and larger curds for your cheese.

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The most basic of cheese-making recipes found online today leave out the addition of a culture to the cheese-making process because it is assumed that you will be using pasteurized, store-bought milk which has eliminated all of the “bad” bacteria that can be present in the milk. However, if you are using your own raw milk – whether you’ve pasteurized it yourself or not – you will need to add the cultures so that the lactose (milk sugar) is turned into lactic acid properly. If you want to make mozzarella or a “wheel” of cheese, those processes are more in depth and will require additional research. However, the following process will get you started for every cheese that you will make. The only differences will be the type of culture and the type of coagulant you will use to get your preferred dairy product. Let’s get to making that cheese!

Basic Steps to Making Soft Cheese

Heat the milk.

Add the starter culture and rennet.

Forming and draining the curd.

Salting and storing your soft cheese.

And there you have it – you have made cheese from your own animals at home! For every gallon of milk, you can get one and a half to two pounds of cheese curds, depending on the butter fat content with which you start. The process may take a few hours, but the results are extremely tasty — and economical. And the leftover whey can be used in the garden or fed to your chickens.

Have you ever made your own cheese? What tips would you add? Share them in the section below: 

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