Cheesemaking 101: Ingredients Needed to Make Cheese

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Cheesemaking 101: Ingredients Needed to Make Cheese

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If you want to make cheese, you need to have milk.

Almost any milk is suitable for creating cheese if you have enough ingredients available to restore its quality. Homogenized and ultra-pasteurized products won’t make the same cheese as raw milk. Still, anything fresh is usually better than nothing!

Having access to fresh farm milk is the best way to make cheese at home. If you must buy it from a store, leave the container closed until you’re ready to begin creating something.

Any milk that tastes sour will make terrible cheese.

Once you secure this primary ingredient, you can explore the other items required to become a home cheesemaker.

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Cheese?

1. Cultures

Starter cultures ripen the milk by introducing friendly bacteria to the fluid. Increases in acidity levels work to ferment the lactose to create several essential changes. Your recipe will tell you went to add one and at what temperature.

You can choose from mesophilic or thermophilic starter cultures. A yogurt starter culture is also a possibility.

Direct set cultures are ingredients that get added to warmed milk directly. It’s the easiest option for many first-time cheesemakers. Some include a small amount of rennet to simplify the work taking place in the kitchen.

2. Mold Powders

Some recipes require you to add mold powders to enhance the aroma and flavor of the cheese you make. Most ingredients in this category come in the form of a freeze-dried product. Keep it cold until you’re ready to use it.

White mold, blue mold, and red mold are the most common choices found when this ingredient is necessary. You can also use products like Penicillium Candidum, Penicillium Roqueforti, or Propionic Shermanii.

White mold powders are useful for cheese recipes like Brie and Camembert. It works to inhibit the growth of undesirable products while reducing the acidity levels in the final product.

Cheeses like gorgonzola use a blue mold powder to create interior marbling. It also works against the undesirable growth that tries forming in your cheese cave.

3. Rennet

This ingredient is an enzyme that coagulates milk. When you add it at the correct stage of a cheese recipe, the proteins start solidifying in the liquid. Without this item, you would not get the curds and whey to form without the milk turning sour.

You can find rennet available in several forms for home cheesemaking. Liquid rennet is available from animal or vegetable sources. Tablets and powders are also usable, although you may need to take extra steps to prepare the ingredient for inclusion.

Tablet rennet has a long shelf life, but it must get crushed before being dissolved in water before you can use it. Trying to add this ingredient directly to the milk will not create the curd separation you want.

Junket is a weak rennet that may be useful for making some soft cheese varieties, but it is not appropriate to include it for a hard cheese.

Animal rennet is the traditional ingredient for cheesemaking. It comes from the stomach lining of a calf.

Vegetable rennet is growing in popularity because it reduces the number of animal products used in cheese. Several distinctive flavor possibilities come from this ingredient because it can get derived from figs, yarrow, butterwort, and nettles. The standard option comes from Mucor Miehei.

Liquid rennet is the easiest ingredient to use because it mixes into the milk quickly. When you aren’t using it, the product stores in your refrigerator for up to 12 months.

If you live in a hot climate, powdered rennet is your best option. It has a long shelf life, stores at temperatures as high as 6°C, and isn’t as sensitive to use as the liquid variety.

Rennet does lose its potency. It is usually better to use a fresh product.

4. Additives

Plain cheese is tasty when you make it at home. When you include natural additives to enhance the flavor profile of your recipe, you can create something incredible. Once you feel comfortable with the standard cheesemaking process, experiment with various herbs, spices, and oils to see what you can create.

When you follow your first cheese recipe, you may see several options required in this category to include. Here are the typical items you may need to secure.

  • Coloring. Natural cheese stays a mostly white color. If you use raw milk, the final product may have some golden hues. You can add annatto, turmeric, and other ingredients to achieve something in the orange-to-yellow spectrum.
  • Kosher Salt. Recipes that call for cheese salt want you to use a non-iodized product.
  • Herbs and Spices. You can add almost any herb or spice to cheese to create new flavors. Hard varieties have you add this ingredient when filling the curd molds. Softer options are useful at almost any stage of the creation process. Basil, oregano, sage, dill, garlic, thyme – whatever you want.
  • Calcium Chloride. This ingredient restores the viability of purchased, pasteurized milk. You would want to add it to a goat’s milk cheese to firm up the curd.
  • Acids. Tartaric and citric acid are naturally-derived ingredients that create more milk acidity when making specific cheeses. Mascarpone, ricotta, and mozzarella are typical recipes that call for these items.
  • Lipase. This natural enzyme is useful for making Italian cheese varieties. It elevates the flavor of the curd to give it sharper tones as it ages.
  • Activated Charcoal. This food-grade product gets applied to the rind of some soft cheeses. It works to neutralize avid levels to decrease the drying time, ensuring proper mold development.

Are You Ready to Start Making Some Cheese?

Once you have all of your ingredients available, it is time to gather the equipment needed to make cheese.

Following your preferred recipe and understanding the processes involved can help you to have a successful experience.

What cheesemaking recipe do you want to try making first?

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