My husband and I had to go to a nearby shopping centre to buy a few bits and bobs for the home and we couldn’t park in the usual place. “What’s this got to do with cheese making?” I hear you ask. Be patient and all will become clear. We drove around for a bit and found ourselves in a part of the complex that we had not been to before. And Oh joy of joys! There right in front of us was my all time favourite cook shop. Is it becoming a bit clearer now? I love Lakeland! My husband doesn’t, because once I’m in there you can’t get me out.
But I digress. Here we were in front of a Lakeland store. There was no way I was not going to go in and I am so glad that I did because I found a great little book on cheese making. Now I have always wanted to make cheese and the book made it look quite simple so I thought I would have a go.
It can be quite costly setting yourself up and I wish now that I had researched things a bit more before I went mad and bought all the things that I would need to start on my cheese making adventure. I have since discovered that I could have got a lot of the bigger items from Amazon for half the price. Not to worry I’ve got them now and the they will last for years. Plus I can use the Maslin pan for all my chutney and jam making too. I do like multi purpose things, don’t you?
You will need the following items to start on your cheese making journey:-
A stainless steel Maslin Pan.
A large stainless steel colander. I managed to pick one up at reasonable price in local super market.
Digital thermometer This will be really useful when making jam and chutney too.
I decided that, for my first attempt, I would have a go at making mozzarella (I was making pizza for supper). It is also the first recipe in the book, very handy. Before I got started I scalded all the equipment to sterilise it. I did this by boiling a kettle of water and pouring it over tall the items. That done I was ready for the off.
2 litres of full Fat milk
100mls lemon juice
½ tsp Rennet mixed into 2 Tbls of cold, pre-boiled water
Large jug of ice cold water. (I used pre-boiled water that I had put in the bottom of the fridge to get really cold.)
Stainless steel pan (I used my shiny new Maslin pan)
Digital Thermometer Stainless colander
A large bowl. (I used a sterilised plastic mixing bowl)
Small heat proof bowl. (I used a Pyrex pudding basin)
To make really good cheese you need to use unhomogenised and unpasteurised milk. I tried a lot of different places to get this but without success. But, don’t worry, you can still make your cheese by using 125 mls double cream to 875 mls of skimmed milk in place of 1 litre of unhomogenised and unpasteurised milk. This will work. The mozzarella recipe uses 2 litres of milk so I just doubled the amount.
Now onto making the cheese!
Measure out the lemon juice in a sterilised measuring jug (I used a pyrex jug) and blend the rennet with the cold pre-boiled water (again in a sterilised cup or bowl).
Pour the milk into the sterilised pan and heat it over a low heat. You need to keep the heat low to avoid the milk burning on the bottom (you don’t want this. I will taste awful). Heat the milk to 32 C. This is where your digital thermometer comes into it’s own.
Once the milk has reached the required temperature, remove the pan from the heat. Use a sterilised spatula or spoon to stir the milk and pour the lemon juice into the milk and then the rennet. Once you have stirred in the rennet stop stirring and leave the mixture, in a warm place, to set for 30 mins.. This will separate the curds from the whey.
After 30 minutes you will see that the milk has set, this is the curds. It has the consistency of egg custard. Using a sharp, sterilised, knife cut strips of 2cms lengthways and then repeat the process going across. You will end up with loads of little 2 cm squares.
Place the muslin into the sterilised colander and carefully spoon the curds into the muslin lined colander. Leave the curds to drain for 15-20 mins. You can help the process along by carefully turning the curds once, or twice, to release the whey.
Once the whey has been drained from the curds, carefully form them into 4 equal portions. Place one of the portions into the sterilised bowl and microwave on Full power for 30 seconds.
Use a sterilised fork to scoop the cheese towards the edge of the bowl and pour away the excess whey. Press the cheese together to form a lump and then use your fingers to pull the lump into a small ball. The more you knead the cheese the more whey will be released and your cheese will be dryer. If the cheese appears chalky, pop it back into the microwave for another 15 – 20 seconds. A good way to make sure the cheese is ready, is to test the heat with a thermometer, it should be 60 C for the mozzarella to form properly.
When you have formed the cheese into a ball, plunge it into the iced water and you will see that it sets very quickly. Repeat the process for the remaining three portions. When you the balls of cheese have cooled take them out of the water and wrap them tightly in clingfilm. You will need to use the cheese within three days, unlike shop bought mozzarella that will last a wee bit longer after you’ve opened it. However, you can freeze your cheese and use it at a later date.
So you’ve made your cheese and you are feeling really pleased with yourself. But then you realise that you’ve got gallons (well maybe not gallons) of whey left over. What do you do with it? If your like me you won’t want to just throw it away, no pun intended. But worry no more, because I have done a bit of research and found that you can use it for all sorts of things! I used mine to replace the liquid in the pizza base I made. I also used to make crumpets. You are probably realising by now that you can use it for all sorts of dough based recipes. Plus you can freeze it. That is in my book a win win situation.
It has to be said that you will not be saving any money by making your own cheeses. But, just imagine the look on your family and friends faces when you tell them that you made cheese that they are eating. So, may I suggest that you now go and have fun making cheese, I certainly will be.