Photo Credit: cornersmith.com.au
Cheese Making Equipment
The cheese-making process requires a few pieces of equipment to successfully create delicious tasting cheese.
Each recipe may require different equipment, but below are essentials for all cheese making:
- Your Choice of Milk
- Rennet – animal or vegetable
- Cheese Mold – Dependent on what types of cheese
- Cheesecloth– Used for lining your cheese molds and straining curds
- Slotted Ladle – For stirring the milk mixture
- Curd Knife – Used for cutting curds
- Large Covered Pot – 2.5-gallon pot or larger
- Large Colander
There are additional tools and equipment that you can purchase if you’re looking to produce more complex cheeses.
Cheese wax – Used for sealing cheeses
Cheese Press or Weights – Used to form hard cheeses
pH Meter– Used for testing PH levels
Cheese Fridge/ Wine Fridge – A designated space to store cheeses long-term
Cheese Salt – Fine crystals that are ideal for cheese making
Annatto – Used to dye cheeses
Cleaning and Sanitizing Equipment
Since making cheese utilizes several different bacterial cultures, it’s important to avoid any contamination and sanitize all equipment and surfaces.
With a food-grade sanitizer, make sure you wipe down and dry all surfaces before and after.
Run all utensils through the dishwasher on a sanitize cycle or simply sterilize them by placing them in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes.
You can either sanitize pots in the dishwasher or in boiling hot water for 10 minutes. If there’s any residue on your pots you will need to remove it.
Since most alkaline-based dairy cleaners won’t remove calcium, it’s important to use an acid-based cleaner to remove residue on your pots. Most people use a combination of both cleaners, alkaline cleaner for everyday use and an acid-based one once a week.
Why Non-Chlorinated Water is Necessary
It’s important to know whether your water supply is chlorinated or not. If it is, you should opt to use distilled water, spring water or a tap filter. Chlorinated water will prevent the enzyme action of rennet.
Most cheeses are completely vegetarian, especially when it comes to Cheese Making Kits and Cheese Making Cultures. Any of the products that contain rennet are made of a vegetable-based rennet, but you can also purchase your own Vegetable Rennet if you prefer.
Goat Cheese Supplies
There are some types of cheese that are traditionally made with goats milk, but you can typically replace it with your milk of choice. All of our cultures and cheese making supplies can be added to any kind of milk.
Cheesemaking next steps
You’re nearly ready to start making cheese, there are just a few more things you should know ahead of time. Below you will find numerous techniques used when it comes to making cheese and that you’ll find useful when you start making cheese for yourself.
Every cheesemaker has their own techniques to go about making cheeses. As you start producing your own cheese, you will develop your own methods too. Below you will find common techniques that all first-time cheesemakers should know.
The great thing about cheese recipes is that you can easily modify it to your needs. You can double, triple, or even cut down a recipe depending on how much cheese you’re wanting to make.
When modifying a recipe, it’s important to take into consideration the amount of cultures and rennet you are adding and making sure that they’re both proportionate to the original recipe. Other than that, just adjust your brining time depending on the cheese volume.
Photo Source: Pinterest
Beer and wine cheese are extremely popular and because of that, there are various recipes to incorporate beer and wine in your cheese.
Beer Infused Cheese and Wine Infused Cheese – done by washing the curd in beer or wine
Appenzeller cheese– washing rind cheese in beer or wine
Tomme au Marc – storing the cheese in the skins and seeds from wine pressing
Since there is nothing to boil in the cheese recipe, altitudes have no effect on making cheese.
There are so many cheeses that all arise from one standard recipe and process. This makes it easy to learn and get comfortable with a particular recipe, yet still, be able to experiment with different flavors.
Colby and Cheddar cheese is a great example of cheeses that practically start off exactly the same but with tweaking a couple of steps like adding water to the curds, allows the cheese to produce higher moisture, and therefore, creating a completely different flavor than cheddar cheese.
Factors that have a huge influence on how your cheese turns out are the amount of culture and rennet added, ripening time, the milk temperature, size of curds and how long they’re stirred for, and how the whey is removed. Slight changes in any of these factors can considerably change the flavor of your cheese.
Most cheeses do require some kind of refrigeration, however, there are some that don’t, such as fresh cheeses. Fresh cheeses rely on high acid and salt for preserving and are needed to be consumed rather quickly. Fresh cheeses that don’t require refrigeration include Mozzarella, Feta, Queso Fresco, and Queso Blanco.
Smoking adds an abundance of additional flavor to your cheese. Cold smoking your cheese typically works by collecting the smoke in a separate chamber, allowing it to cool, and then adding it to the container that holds the cheese. For homemade cheese, the cheese must be smoked below 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Unfortunately, whey protein is very difficult to make homemade, so we don’t recommend making whey yourself. Primarily, whey protein is a complex process that is produced by large operations that combine whey from numerous large plants.
The easiest way to keep your pot of milk the same temperature for the entire process is by putting your pot in your kitchen sink or another bowl of hot water. As the water starts to cool, continue adding boiling water to increase the temperature. You can also use this technique to continuously increase temperature and cook the curds.
For the cheese-making process, you can simply use a quality medical grade thermometer to calibrate your thermometer.
Fill a bowl up with warm water between 88-98F and immerse both thermometers inside.
Once temperatures have stabilized, check the temperature.
The temperatures on both thermometers should read the same number. If they don’t locate the nut under the dial head and turn it until the needle reads the same temperature as the medical thermometer.
Repeat as needed
The process of cutting the curd can be an involved process. However, once you figure out how to determine when the curd is ready to be cut and how to cut the curd, it’s no longer a daunting process.
To determine if the curd is ready, simply poke your finger into the curd at a 45-degree angle. If the curd breaks smoothly around your finger then the curd is ready to be cut. If it doesn’t, wait five minutes and repeat the process.
If the curd is not ready, do not try and cut it. If you do, it will continue to be firm and not drain the whey as it should.
When cutting the curd, you should use a blunt-ended knife, a specific Curd Knife, or a long-bladed knife with caution.
It’s important to cut the curd to increase the surface area and properly release the whey. Different cheeses recipe require different size cuts as the cut determines how fast and how much the curds drain. Common cut sizes range from ¼’, to 1’ cubes.
Although it’s not completely necessary, to know what’s happening during the cheesemaking process and specifically with your milk, testing the pH is a great indicator and will make the process a lot easier.
The development of acid plays a huge role in the cheesemaking process. Monitoring and measuring the acid levels is always a good idea.
Most cheeses have a target acid level that defines its particular style and characteristics. You can use the Titratable Acidity (TA%) or the pH value to do this.
When measuring the pH level during the homemade cheese process, you can help ensure that the batches are consistent in flavor and texture.
If you would like to learn more information about Acid Testing, we highly recommend Paul Kndstedt’s book, American Farmstead Cheese.
To test the acidity, this Acid Testing Kit is great, easy to use, and includes everything you need.
Now you are ready for the advanced techniques featured below:
Advanced Cheesemaking Techniques
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