Homemade Cheese - Beginners Guide
Cheese Making for Beginners
Although the cheese-making process may seem a bit stressful, there’s no need to stress. Below we’ve included a wealth of information that will help feel confident navigating the cheesemaking process in no time.
One of the first steps when it comes to making cheese is getting familiar with some of the common terms. Since you’ll be seeing them over and over again, it will save you a lot of time getting familiar with the cheese-making terminology now as oppose to figuring it out later as you go.
All Things Cheese
Cheesemaking is a rewarding process where all your time and effort pays off.
Most homemade cheeses are made up of three major ingredients; milk, bacteria, and rennet. Cheese can take many forms such as hard and soft and can be made from a variety of different types of milk including cow, goat, sheep, whole, raw, pasteurized, and powdered.
Cheeses are completely customizable and changing one ingredient such as the type of milk along with utilizing different techniques, can make a huge impact on the flavor and consistency of your cheese.
There are quite a few Cheese Making Kit that lay out the cheesemaking process for you step-by-step, such as the Basic Cheese Making Kit or the Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit. Especially when it comes to beginner’s these Cheese Making Kits are a great guide to get started.
Making cheese can be very fun and almost therapeutic. However, there’s a major difference from homemade cheese for your family and producing commercial cheeses for the consumer market. If you’re looking to start selling your cheeses, you will need to obtain the required certifications from your government and follow strict guidelines.
Now that you understand the terms, the next step is to familiarize yourself with popular cheese recipes to understand the basics.
Anything from brie to blue, soft cheeses are a very popular option when it comes to beginner cheeses. Popular soft cheese includes blue, brie, cottage cheese, cream cheese, Havarti, feta, and mozzarella. To see more fresh cheese recipes, click the link below.
The great thing about a lot of hard cheese is just by changing one technique or ingredient, you can make a variety of different hard cheese. Popular hard cheeses include Gouda, Parmesan, Farmhouse Cheddar and Colby. For more recipes click below.
Medium cheeses are known as semi-soft to firm cheeses and tend to include cheeses such as Edam, Jarlsberg and Cantal. Some hard cheeses may also be considered medium hard cheese depending on the consistency such as cheddar cheese which could be classified as either. These types of cheeses are ideal for toasting as they melt quicker than hard cheeses but still hold their shape unlike soft cheeses.
The Importance of Milk
Milk is a major ingredient, if not the main ingredient when it comes to making cheese. The general rule of thumb is that one gallon of milk produces one pound of hard cheese or two pounds of soft cheese.
There are many factors of your milk that can affect your cheese. The butterfat content of your milk can affect the overall amount of cheese you can produce. For example, sheep’s milk has 9% butterfat, so the production is much higher than goat or cow’s milk with a butterfat range of 3-5%.
The purity of your milk can also dramatically change the flavor of your cheese. Clean milk without any contaminants is essential for great tasting cheese. Grass-fed cows by far produce the richest flavor milk.
Lastly, the temperature of your milk can dramatically change your cheese production. When it comes to making cheese, it’s best to keep your milk refrigerated prior and take it out an hour before production.
What are Cultures
Cultures are a huge part of the cheese making process so it’s important to not only understand why they are important, but how to work with them.
Cultures are a form of bacteria and are an essential part of the cheese-making process. For most cheeses, cultures are added to milk to commence the cheese-making process and to determine the flavor, smell, and texture.
Too much or too little culture can also be problematic with your cheese production. This is why it’s important to make sure you have the right quantities of cultures in your cheese recipe.
There are two common cheese starter cultures; Thermophilic and Mesophilic. Thermophilic is able to handle high temperatures, while Mesophilic can’t.
Too much culture can change the acidity of your milk and impact your final product, so it’s important to get a good understanding of the type of culture and quantity needed for your cheese production beforehand.
Below are some useful articles when it comes to cultures.
There are a few different types of cheese that can be produced without the addition of salt including Mozzarella and Fromage Blac. Other than those cheeses, salt is a key ingredient and technique used when it comes to making cheese.
Hard cheeses and mold-ripened cheeses all require salt. As opposed to using salt to give flavor, when it comes to cheese, salt is actually used to slow the bacteria down and prevent the mixture from becoming overly acidic.
Certain salts work better than others when it comes to cheese making. Iodized salts should be avoided as it interferes with bacteria ripening. It’s also best to stick to a small crystal size like cheese salt or canning salts, which are great for creating the brine solutions.
Below are some useful articles on how salt is used in cheese making.
Aging and Preserving Your Cheese
One of the last steps, and a very important one, is finally preserving your cheese so it stays fresh and delicious as its ages. There are quite a few different techniques when it comes to preserving your cheese and a lot of the time, it simply comes down to preference. Below we’ve included some of the most popular ways to preserve your cheeses along with why aging your cheese is important.
The cheese-making process can get rather expensive. With all the equipment, tools and necessary supplies, it can start to add up. Luckily, we have a post all about how to save money when it comes to making cheese at home.
These tips include how to find the best prices for certain equipment, how to DIY your own homemade equipment, and what to look for when your purchasing new cheesemaking tools.
If you have any additional questions when it comes to cheesemaking, stop by our interactive forum where you can find responses to questions you may have, along with explore other cheesemaking topics from other cheese enthusiast as well.
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