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Jul 28, 2006 02:11 PM

calling all cheesemakers

Do you make cheese at home? What types? Does it take many pieces of equipment? Do you have to be a 'scientist'?

What whould you suggest to someone (LOM) who wants to get started with some simple soft cheese? (I would love to more or less duplicate the Mexican Casera cheese I've become enamered of. A bit firmer than but with the flavor of fresh ricotta.)


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  1. Making simple soft cheeses at home doesn't require any special equipment or an advanced degree. And it is so much fun! I make a version of ricotta which is ridiculously easy, mozzarella (but it isn't the mozzarella I aspire to), and fresh goat cheese. The "ricotta" is from an Italian friend and the others are from Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll, who also sells cheese making supplies All you need is a big pot, a thermometer (I use my candy thermometer), a colander and some cheesecloth. There is a version of Queso Fresco in the book. Some wine/beer making supply stores stock cheese making stuff too. Unfortunately ours in Napa doesn't.

    I recently took a class in which we made ricotta salata, halloumi, manchego and goat feta. The goat feta was especially good. I still have the ricotta salata and halloumi aging in the fridge. Those cheeses require forms for draining, but other than that no special equipment, just the starters, lipase and rennet. Hard, aged cheeses do need a controlled temp. One woman in the class had a designated dorm-type fridge she keeps at 50 degrees, but if you have a basement....

    Please report back on your cheese.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Junie D

      I second the vote on the cheesemaking website and the Ricki Carroll book. Its fun and easy. We have made ricotta at home and mozzarella. And I boiled the whey down to that gjeost stuff they make in Norway/Sweden but I overdid it and it got too crystelly.
      I would love to take a cheese making class but haven't found it. And I would need a better, more practical supply of milk that TJs or Whole Foods.
      I have cheese envy of all of you out there with resources.....

    2. I just saw Michael Chiarello make ricotta on TV the other day, with no special equipment. Just a large pot, a cheesecloth or tea towel, a strainer to set the towel over, and a large bowl. He used 2 cups milk, 2 cups cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice. You can probably find his recipe on

      1. Try this:

        Get some good plain yougurt. Pour it into some cheesecloth (a couple of layers). Tie the corners and hook over the faucet of the kitchen sink. Let it drain for several hours.

        You can mix it with herbs, garlic, spices.


        5 Replies
        1. re: aureliano buendia

          you can make lebanese "lebneh" by slightly modifying the above instructions.

          1) line a collander with paper towels and rest collander on top of a pot (for drainage purposes).

          2) stir a small palmful of salt (it's subjective) into a quart of regular yogurt.

          3) pour yogurt into collander.

          4) cover and let drain overnight.

          5) move lebneh into a plastic glad container, drizzle generously with good olive oil and add more salt if you think it's needed. enjoy with lebanese pita bread (joseph's will do).

          1. re: coookie

            Adding to your lebneh - sprinkle it with Z'atar with that olive oil and you'll never go back to plain lebneh!

            1. re: Carrie 218

              ha! sounds like another lebanese person in da house.

              for the uninitiated, z'atar is a mix of toasted sesame seeds, sumac, thyme and salt.

              1. re: coookie

                I learned about it from Saveur -- it was listed as one of their "100" favorites the very first time they did a 100 favorite (ten years ago?). I was living in LA and it took some work to find all the ingredients and have loved it ever since.

            2. re: coookie


              For those making Lebneh, cheese, etc., does anyone know how to make yogurt at home?

              I've heard it's as easy as taking your current yogurt (with live cultures I believe) and adding milk that's been heated but not boiled. Let sit for 5 or so hours, then refrigerate. (I expect some cheesecloth draining may be desirable).

              Is that all it is? If so, what proprtions? I'd love to try it, but would hate to poison myself!

              Any insight would be so very appreciated!



          2. I just started making cheese, I tried about a year ago and got busy, but wanted to dive in while I have time during the holidays. I have made queso blanco and Cheddar (now aging in the veg drawer which has been annexed as a cheese cave), My next cheese will be a Monterey jack, and then a pepper jack. Long term I want to make a blue and stilton. I ma making the cheeses using the Ricki Carroll books as well as other resources on the net.

            I would love to find some classes in So. Cal, so far they are either in the bay area or east coast. Anyone else in this area making cheese?

            1. I got so enamored with home cheese-making that I bought a second refrigerator to house my cheese! I went to the extreme and bought the press.

              Besides Ricki Carroll's book, I heartily recommend 'Making Artisan Cheese' by Tim Smith which goes a step further in the tweaking of standard cheeses.

              And Lobstah, I'm here in the city as well!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Carrie 218

                Thats great! I will look for that book this weekend. I am interested in branching out (once I have gotten the basics down) into some wilder recipes. What Cheeses are you making and how do you solve that heating from 90 to 100 (but no more than 5 degrees in two minutes issue? It is supposed to take 30 min but I always seem to take much longer.

                1. re: Carrie 218

                  Hi Carrie,

                  How are you able to control the humidity in your cave/refrigerator? And what cheeses are you making? and where does one find Z'atar? (already mixed)