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Making cheese at home

I finally got my hands on 4 precious tablets of vegetable rennet over the weekend and I want to use them as effective as I can because I'm not sure when I will get my hands on some more (!). I had a a few questions about it:

* what's your favourite cheese to make at home?
* what's a good book/website to start to learn to make cheese at home?

Thank you for your help!

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    1. Good links by ghg, and this site's a fav of mine, and although they tend to promote their cheesemaking products pretty heavily, (they carry veg-based rennet, btw) there are good instructions for producing a wide variety of cheeses, including beginner types, and a decent educational and help section:

      http://www.cheesemaking.com/

      8 Replies
      1. re: bushwickgirl

        thank you! Does the end product differ too much when you use veg vs animal rennet?

        1. re: purplefoodie

          It's a personal decision with no discerible difference, imo; it's the cheesmaker's choice. Culture, additives, and process are far more important. The rennet choice by itself does not influence final flavor, texture, and overall quality. So use your vegetable rennet without fear. I prefer the vegetable also.

          The liquid rennet is easier and more accurate to measure, for small batches, than the tabs. There's a great deal to learn/know about cheese making, but do some reading, start out with a simple queso fresco or even ricotta, and work your way up.

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            Very helpful of you, thanks. I've jut been looking for books as well, just so I have once place to go to for cheese-making and I found this one: http://amzn.to/byDJhu But from the reviews I'm worried I might need to invest in equipment and "speciality" ingredients that I might not find locally (Bombay). Are there three-four must-have ingredients that you can think of off the top of your head for it? I will see if I can find it, and then buy the book.

            Would you know of an online resource to order rennet? I've a friend in the US so I can have her get it for me.

            Oh, and I've made paneer - similar to queso blanco , from what I understand and it was delicious. The only cheese I'm confident about because, well, it local to India! http://purplefoodie.com/how-to-make-p...

            1. re: purplefoodie

              Depending on what type of cheese you're planning, you really only need a few things to get started, a large stainless steel or enamel heavy bottom stockpot, with lid; an 8 quart is a good start, unless you plan on making lbs of cheese in the future, then go up to 5 gallon. This will be your biggest expense. A thermometer, either a clip-on style candy/deep fry with a low end range of 50-225 F (100 C) or or a floating glass dairy thermometer, a few simple kitchen utensils, large restaurant-style stainless steel serving spoons, a large whisk, a long slicing knife for cutting curds, cheescloth and a colander or large mesh sieve. You may have many of these items already. At some point, if you want to make hard cheeses, which is a natural progression from soft, you'll need to buy or make a cheese press. Making them is easy, lots of instructions online.

              For making the cheese, you need a source of good quality milk, either 4% or lowfat, but I think whole milk cheese is far superior to lowfat, calcium chloride, (salt) a starter culture, such as buttermilk or yogurt, and the rennet. Other types of cultures can be purchased from cheesemaker's supply houses. Is buttermilk available in Mumbai? You may want to purchase dried buttermilk starter, very convenient.

              Here's a page link from one of ghg's upthread posted links, detailing the process of making 1 lb of cheese from 1 gallon of milk:

              http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/...

              I'm wondering if it's a bit warm where you are to make cheese, unless you have air conditioning? Temperature control is important; a too warm kitchen may be an issue.

              Do you make yogurt and paneer? If you do or have, then you already understand the cheese making process.

              The link I gave you at my above post sells rennet; it seems expensive but you use very little to a gallon of milk, a 1/4 tablet, in fact. This company has been around for years and has a very good reputation and a large cheese making following:

              http://www.cheesemaking.com/

              This isn't the only company in the US that sells rennet and cheesemaking supplies. Do a google search for one that suits you.

              Making cheese at home is a very rewarding process; I applaud your interest and effort and I wish you success. Let us know how it works out or if you have any more questions.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                OK, you're officially one of my heroes now. Making cheese at home and your avatar is Blackjack gum (I've got a case from groovycandy.com that I'm hoarding).

                1. re: sbp

                  Oh, thanks! Nice of you to say...love that Blackjack.

                2. re: bushwickgirl

                  I'm so thankful to you for your detailed replies. You are so helpful. :)

                  Great! I have most of the thinks I need to make cheese except for calcium chloride and a cheese press.

                  We don't get buttermilk here. In fact, yoghurt thinned with water is commonly known as buttermilk here. A friend of mine used cultured buttermilk (probiotic yoghurt thinned with water) to make Neufchâtel and it worked for her (she said it was like cream cheese, just a little grainy - is that okay?). I will order some dried buttermilk just to be safe.

                  The temperature around here is 30C/85F so maybe I can regulate it with air conditioning.

                  Most Indian household make their yoghurt everyday and having growning up watching my grandmom set yoghurt every night, I never thought people actually go buy that stuff! I do make paneer pretty regularly at home. Or it makes itself (!) when the milk splits because for some reason there was something acidic in the vessel the milk got boiled in.

                  I will keep you posted about my progress on cheesemaking. I'm thinking of heading to a local buffalo shed sometime this week to get fresh buffalo milk.

                  1. re: purplefoodie

                    It's nice that you have access to buffalo milk, not commonly found in NYC! Anyway, you now have lot's of links for info and recipes and the cheese forum link is a great resource, so please keep us updated on your cheesemaking adventures.

                    I'd like to make some cottage cheese, but it's going to be 85°+ here this week with high humidity and I don't have a/c, so I'll have to wait.

                    Enjoy!

        2. Hi purplefoodie,
          I'm a serious home cheesemaker (http://knowwhey.blogspot.com), have been making cheese for about three years now.
          If you have vegetable rennet and are new to cheesemaking, try making mozzarella, using the 30-minute Mozzarella recipe at http://www.cheesemaking.com. It makes pretty reasonable mozz! Later, you can try making things like cheddar, brie, camembert, gruyere, and swiss. I make all of these, and more, with great success!

          With vegetable rennet, you should not make cheeses that age for very long periods of time, as some people say the taste becomes bitter. I don't know about that personally.

          Join up at http://cheeseforum.org. It's a great community of home cheesemakers, who love talking cheese and cheesemaking. They welcome newcomers warmly. There are many recipes for various cheeses on the site, and the experienced cheesemakers are always happy to answer questions.

          Regards, Sue

          1 Reply
          1. re: starrfields

            Thanks for the link to your blog as well as the cheese forum. I love brie and I can't wait to graduate to that level.