8 steps to succeed in cheese production at home

Cheese production uses milk, bacteria and rennet. The cheese can be made from almost any type of milk, such as cow, goat, sheep, skimmed, whole, raw, pasteurized and powdered.

What you will need

Before buying dairy products, it is a good idea to first find a recipe for making cheese at home. Then let’s start making a list of the ingredients and equipment we will need to make our cheese.

Cheese production techniques

Here are some tips and tricks along with information on specific techniques. Before we begin to remember, people have been making cheese for thousands of years now, the process can be really as simple as it is scientific, depending on what you want.

Then we will show you a guide on how to make cheese. It’s not a recipe, but a great way to get acquainted with the steps of this ancient art.

1. Start with fresh, warm milk

The nicer and fresher the milk you use, the tastier your cheese will be. It is good to buy milk the same day we make cheese. To heat the milk, you can either get it still hot from milking (in which case you must be on a dairy farm), or transfer it from the fridge to a large pot and heat it slowly in a cookware.

2. Oxidation of Milk

There are many ways to make cheese, but first you need to skim the milk. One way is to add acid (vinegar or citric acid) just to the milk to get the right acidity. This process (called instant acidification) is done on cheeses such as ricotta and mascarpone. Another way to acidify milk is to add cultures or live bacteria. Over time, heat and lack of competitive bacteria, these crops will absorb lactose into milk, converting it to lactic acid.

3. Add a thickener

The most common coagulant is rennet, an enzyme that binds proteins to milk. However, the word “rennet” is a bit vague. Rennet can come from the stomach of “traditional rennet” animals. It can also be a “bacterial” rennet, sometimes also euphemistically the so-called “vegetable rennet” derived from recombinant bacteria (using DNA from calf stomach cells). Otherwise, rennet may be derived from “microbial rennet” fungus. Using the more general and more accurate term ‘thrombotic’, we can add “herbal” coagulants that could be derived from figs or thistles. Mix the thickener in the liquid milk and wait until a kind of milk jelly is formed.

4. Test the stability of the milk jelly

When you have given enough time to the rennet to ferment the proteins in the milk, the milk will turn from liquid to jelly. You can test the “stability” of the jelly by pressing (with a clean hand) the surface of the milk.

5. Cut the curd

The next step, now, is to cut the coagulated milk from a giant shell into smaller cubes or pieces. You can do this with a ‘cheese harp’, a knife or even a whisk. The size at which you cut the curd will significantly affect the amount of moisture retained in your final cheese. The smaller the original pieces, the drier (and older) your cheese will be, and vice versa.

6. Stir, cook and wash the curd

For the next few minutes or even an hour (depending on the recipe), you will stir the curd in the cookware. Optionally, turn on the heat and cook the cheeses while stirring. During this phase, the most important thing that happens is the acid that continues to grow in the condensed milk and from the movement of your stirring, the curd dries. The more you cook and the more you stir, the drier your cheese will be.

Washing is the process of removing whey from the container and replacing it with water. This creates a softer, sweeter and more elastic cheese mixture.

7. Drain the curd

Finally, it is time to separate the curd from the whey. You can do this almost final step by simply tossing the contents of the pan into a colander in the sink. You can wait 10 minutes for the curd to settle to the bottom, and then press the porridge together at the bottom of the pot before taking them out of the container into pieces. In general, our movements are fast at this point in the process, because we want to keep warm in the porridge, encouraging them to sit together to form a nice smooth head. If we wait too long, the curd cools and the cheese dissolves.

8. Salt and cheese aging

Once the curd has been separated from the whey, you can add salt. Or you can move the curd to its final positions (or baskets) and press the cheese rotating before salting. If a cheese is salted, properly acidified and has the right moisture inside, it can age into something more complex. It can also be consumed immediately – at the exact time it was made.

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