If you have access to fresh milk, whether you own your own animals or have a share in a local farmer’s stock, you are eventually going to want to try your hand at cheese. Making cheese is a ton of fun, and amazingly easy once you get the hang of it. One thing you’re going to need is a good cheese thermometer. There are many different types of heat-resistant thermometers made for everything from meat to candy, but a traditional candy thermometer like this one at Amazon.com is my choice for the best thermometer to use when making cheese.
What makes this particular type of thermometer perfect for cheese is the large, easy-to-read markings that register from 100 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, but more important—it floats. Its large, clear glass tubing holds lots of air and keeps the top of the thermometer floating above the surface of the milk as it turns to curd and whey. This keeps the thermometer in place as you heat, set, and stir the cheese mixture.
Because temperature is so important at every stage of making all types of cheeses, you need to see what the exact temperature is at all times. The candy thermometer allows that, and it is even sturdy enough to stir the curds to keep them from sticking after you cut them (while they cure).
It is low-cost, so it won’t break your budget. This is a tool you can’t really make from scratch, so you’ll have to rely on an outside source to get it, but one candy thermometer will last for years with normal use. It will be handy in all areas of your homestead cooking, but it will likely be kept very busy making cheese once you taste your first attempt at making fresh homemade cheese. Of course, you can also make homemade candies and other confections with it. Some back-to-basic cooks prefer a meat thermometer because it has more versatile uses and can also make sure your meat is cooked properly, but since meat thermometers are not made to float, I find them much less useful for making cheeses.
Check out the candy thermometer on Amazon.com or other back-to-basic and homesteading store websites, such as Lehmans.com, Fias Co. Farm (fiascofarm.com), and Hoegger Goat Supply (hoeggergoatsupply.com).