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When just starting out are cheese kits the best way to go?

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A GF and I are going to try our hand at cheese making. We have never done it before so thought it could be delicious and fun. Out first attempt will be mozzarella and ricotta.

First things first I found a source for raw cow and goat milk. My next step was to spend some time on the New England cheese making site and its seems like a starter kit is the most economical way to go when first starting out. The price of buying the stuff separately either online or at my local hardware/kitchen supply store is more money. The problem is that NE cheese making shipping costs are upwards of 30% of the total order-insane! I found the exact same kits on amazon with free shipping.

However my foray onto Amazon brought up tons of other basic kits ranging from $20 to $65.

http://www.amazon.com/Mozzarella-Rico...

http://www.amazon.com/Mozzarella-Rico...

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Artisa...

The major difference seems to be the types of cheese you can make. As a newbie is it better to start off small and just get the basic mozzarella kit? Or is it better to invest more $$ up front so later we can try our hand at gouda, colby, cheddar and the like. Or are kits a complete waste time?

Any advice would be great, thanks!

(as an aside, thanks to Melanie Wong, I truly enjoyed reading this article. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/19.... Its also interesting to note that as much as everyone hates the term "foodie" in seems to having staying power. The article is from 1987)

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  1. I haven't made mozzarella, but ricotta requires no special equipment, just a source of heat, some acid, and a fine strainer or cheesecloth.

    I guess it depends on how much the convenience of a kit pays off vs going to a fabric store for muslin, a spice shop for citric acid, etc.