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The Joy of Home Cheesemaking

The fun and science behind home cheesemaking

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Getting Started Cheesemaking

So how do you make your own cheese at home?

Cheesemaking is the process of turning liquid milk into a solid cheese. Milk is about 87% water, and much of this water needs to be removed. During cheesemaking the proteins in milk are coagulated in a way that they capture the milk fats and milk solids in a protein mesh. These coagulated proteins, along with their captured content, form into what are called curds. The liquid portion of the milk that remains is called whey. Curds and whey are what Miss Muffet ate while sitting on her tuffet in the Mother Goose rhyme. Cheese is made by manipulating the curds so that they shrink, expelling they right amount of whey, and straining them out.

The most simple cheeses to make require only a pot large enough to hold the 1 to 2 gallons of milk, a kitchen thermometer, cheesecloth, colander, milk and an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. For the beginning cheesemaker, I suggest trying one or two of the following easy recipes to get a feel for what cheesemaking is all about.

In all of these recipes the milk is brought to a relatively high temperature, in the 180° to 190° F range, and induced to coagulate by the addition of an acid. The resulting cheeses are simple, but satisfying to create. They are a great place to start.