10 TIPS FOR MAKING DELICIOUS CHEESE
CHEESEMAKING TIPS – 10 TIPS TO MAKE GREAT CHEESE
SUMMARY OF 10 TIPS FOR CHEESE MAKING
- CLEAN EQUIPMENT
- START WITH EASY CHEESES
- CHOOSE MILK – NON-HOMOGENIZED MILK
- ADD CULTURE –USING THE THREE ‘S’
- ADD RENNET – GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR RENNET
- USE NON-CHLORINATED WATER
- THERMOMETER – READ IT AT EYE LEVEL
- CLEAN BREAK – TECHNIQUE TO SEE IF YOUR CURD IS READY
- STIRRING METHOD – THE CHEESEMAKER’S STIR
- LEARN AS YOU GO – KEEP HAVING FUN
TIP 1: CLEANING EQUIPMENT: Please sanitize your equipment before you begin – that’s everything that will come into contact with the milk or curd. You can do this by immersing your equipment in hot water. Also, don’t forget to wash your hands.
TIP 2: START WITH EASY CHEESES: Most of you have never made cheese before – if you fit that category, try starting with easy cheeses first and then progress to more advanced cheese.
EASY CHEESES ARE: CREAM CHEESE, PANEER, CHEVRE, QUARK, CRÈME FRAICHE, COTTAGE CHEESE, SOUR CREAM, QUESO BLANCO, QUESO FRESCO, FROMAGE BLANC, BUTTERMILK, CULTURED BUTTER, RICOTTA, GJETOST, LABNEH, AKAWI, TZATIKI, MASCARPONE
Take the DIY CHEESE CHALLENGE – To help you master the basics before moving on to an aged cheese such as Havarti or Gouda.
TIP 3: CHOOSING MILK: So how do you choose milk?
Making cheese with store-bought pasteurized and homogenized milk should be ok. Remember, look at the label and avoid milk that is ‘UHT’, ‘ultra-pasteurized’ or ‘micro-filtered’.
If you want a superior grade of store-bought milk for cheese making, seek out milk that is not homogenized. This type of milk can usually be found in health food stores. Non-homogenized milk is used by 99.9% of cheese making facilities nowadays.
What about raw milk? Raw milk is milk in its unprocessed natural form that is not heated or homogenized. It’s coming straight out of an animal, such as a cow, goat, sheep, water buffalo (you get the idea) and into a container. Although this type of milk requires the use of caution, this type of milk is the best possible option for cheesemaking.
TIP 4: ADDING CULTURE: The recommended way to add culture is to remember the three SSS. That’s SPRINKLE your culture on to the surface, let it SIT on the surface 3 minutes and then STIR gently. This method allows your culture to re-hydrate on the surface of the milk to dissolve and disperse easily and evenly into the milk.
TIP 5: ADDING RENNET: The recommended way to add rennet is to allow you rennet tablet (1/4 tablet) to dissolve in non- chlorinated water (1/4 cup) 15 – 20 minutes ahead of time. That gives the rennet enzyme time to ‘wake up’ in water to be at its most potent form before adding to the milk. When you add the mixture (rennet and water) to the milk, flush the measuring cup out with milk to ensure that all of the grainy rennet mixture is added and is not left stuck to the bottom of your measuring cup (1/4 cup).
TIP 6: NON-CHLORINATED WATER: Non-chlorinated water is distilled water, bottled water or tap water containing chlorine that has been boiled to burn off the chlorine and then cooled to room temperature.
TIP 7: USING YOUR THERMOMETER: When checking your milk temperature, check the middle of the pot for a more accurate reading of milk temperature.
TIP 8: CLEAN BREAK: After adding rennet to milk, your milk will turn from a liquid form into a semi-solid form. A well-formed curd will hold a knife mark. After you pierce your curd with a knife, look for a cut line in your curd you’re your knife mark disappears, your curd is too weak. Let it sit for additional time. Another more advanced technique to check to see if your curd is ready is to test for a ‘clean break’. This is performed by inserting your finger or knife into the curd at a 45 degree angle, then lifting/levering your finger or knife gently upwards –at this point your curd should ‘break cleanly’ into a well- defined line. This technique is an advanced technique that takes practice.
TIP 9: STIRRING METHOD: A cheese maker method of stirring is to do ‘top-down stirring’. This stirring method is performed by pulling the milk from the top down to the bottom and back up to the top of again. An up and down gently action that helps to distribute your ingredients evenly in the milk. What you want to avoid is stirring in a ‘whirl pool or circular’ motion.
TIP 10: LEARN AS YOU GO: All good cheese makers learn something from each batch – take Rebecca, one of our students. She wrote to us and told us that she made her first gouda!
DOING: She started by making the cheese and recording her steps for future reference.
TASTING: Then she tasted her gouda after aging it – She recorded her notes on taste and remarked that it was tasty but a little dry.
ADJUSTING: She notes that in her next batch of cheese, she will adjust for moisture by adding less salt and pressing the cheese with less weight.
REPEAT THE PROCESS!
We wish we could say that all cheese batches work out but then we would be taking the fun out of the process. Even commercial cheese makers, need to adjust and improve. If you can see this skill as something new and allow room to learn and have fun, then you’ll keep a smile on your face and the experience of cheese making will be enjoyable.