Today I’m making CHEESE.
I should have worn the Little House on the Prairie style dress and bonnet my mom made me in third grade. It felt so adventurous! I didn’t even know you could do this in a regular kitchen without, like, special cheese machines. But you can and of course you can because your Laura Ingalls Wilder and you can do anything.
To start, your going to need one of these expertly packaged cheese making kits from Urban Cheesecraft. The kit I have allows you to make either paneer or queso blanco, and I’m going with the latter. We just so happen to sell them here at Homespun, but you can find the full line on their website.
You’ll also need to be sure you have the right milk. We’re talking non-homogenized. This milk isn’t like those other milks. You could use raw milk as well, but don’t tell them I sent you. I was able to find non-homogenized whole milk at Pogue’s Run Grocery c/o Hartzler Farm. It has a nice, dense, buttery, fat layer at the top. It’s as if it came straight from the pail. YUM.
After reading through the entire sheet of instructions BEFORE I EVEN STARTED, like the extremely successful adult that I am, I decided I deserved an adult beverage to get me through the rest of the process. Enter: High Life.
The instructions were very clear and actually fun to read. Here we go!
First you measure out the citric acid and stir it into some water. Yes, that’s the stuff in all your favorite sour candies so of course I had to taste some. And I liked it. But you’re not supposed to do that and I probably already had some beer so moving on… Line your colander with the cheese cloth.
Slowly warm the milk in a pot to 190 degrees. I didn’t know how slow “slow” should be, but after 20 minutes I turned the heat up ifyaknowwhadimean. Just, you know, made the pan hotter. Then it took about 10 more minutes to get to full temperature. Then in went the water and citric acid mixture! And it looked like this:
I thought the curds would be bigger, denser. Like the kind of cheese curds you can buy fried at 20 Tap (drool) so I was worried I had really messed this up somehow. I let them cook on the stove a few minutes longer, then transfered to the cheesecloth lined colander. If you look closely, which I’m sure you are, you’ll notice I’ve set the colander in a glass bowl. This is so I don’t make a huge mess. It’s also so I can save the whey! More on that later.
Then I tasted everything, ’cause I was curd-rious.
The whey tasted really tart and sour, like lemon juice. And the warm cheese. YOU GUYS. WARM FRESH CHEESE. It was so good, even unsalted. Then I sprinkled on the provided “cheese salt.” It seemed to just be a fine, flaky type sea salt.
I then wrung out the cheesecloth (careful, it’s hot) and stuck it in the provided cheese mold. Into the fridge for about 15 minutes, and out popped mah cheese WHEEL!
I did like the cheese salted, and turns out the consistancy was just fine, nice and solid but crumbly, too, like queso should be. The taste was very mild, creamy, and a bit earthy. Delicious.
There is a ton of good info included with the instructions including recipe variations (mix in honey, roll in chili powder, etc.), tips and what to do with the whey (don’t just throw it a-whey! Get used to it, I’m not going to stop). You can use whey in place of broth for soups or in place of liquids in baking and so much more. There’s also plenty of all the supplies left to make this again. If you want to be fancy and wash your cheesecloth, you can make up to 8 batches.
Other kits they offer include Mozzarella & Ricotta, Feta, Greek Yogurt & Yogurt Cream Cheese, Mascarpone & Burrata, and Goat Cheese. If you have any questions, you can easily contact them through their website.
And that’s it! Your just made cheese with me! I thought the process was actually very simple, gratifying, and fun. This would make a great gift- the kit or just the cheese itself- and would be really fun to do with kids, too. Thanks, Urban Cheesecraft, for taking us back to our log-cabin roots!