Posted by Kyle
Cheese. My life force. After the love for my family and my animals is probably my love for cheese. But it is darn expensive! For any Canadian, take a trip down to the USA and you’ll see prices that are usually between 1/4 – 1/2 what we pay. It’s so expensive that when Bonnie and I moved out of our parents’ homes, it took me 3 promotions before I considered myself able to purchase it on a regular basis! This is all thanks to the supply management system brought in during the ’70’s (and controlled by the Canadian Dairy Commission) to counteract surplus milk production and ensure fair returns for farmers. Very noble cause but it sure hits the wallet for (large) consumers like me!
So what to do about my love for cheese… Turns out that, coupled with my love for DIY, this is the perfect project for me to roll up my sleeves, channel my French heritage and become a true fromager! (Er… That’s a person who makes cheese.)
Now I would like to give you the recipe for Pule, Serbian donkey cheese that usually would run you $500+ per pound – But like you I am a beginner so I can’t. What I can do is give you the run down of the recipe that I followed from www.seriouseats.com
The recipe promises that it is the worlds easiest cheese to make – Perfect for my first foray into the art of cheese making. This is supposed to be like a queso fresco or farmer’s cheese. I’m more of a cheddar guy so I can’t say how accurate that is, but the ingredients are as follows:
- Milk or cream
- Acid (vinegar or lemon juice)
That’s it. Seriously.
You will also need a thermometer (I used a Ryobi Infrared Instant Read from Bonnie’s soap making stash), a big pot, something to stir with, some cheesecloth and something to use as a strainer.
The first thing you want to do is heat your milk (I used 3.25%, and would have liked to use raw but it is unavailable in Canada) to 175°F, or really anywhere between 165°F and 185°F. Stir continuously because if you’ve ever boiled milk before you’ll know it burns super easily and bubbles out of the pot to make a huge stinky mess.
Great job. Keep stirring. Make sure to check your temperature regularly.
Once you reach your temperature, add one teaspoon of your chosen acid (I used white vinegar because it was my first time and I figured a neutral flavor was best) at a time until your milk starts to curdle. You’ll really know when it is curdling – White milk solids will begin to float to the surface forming curds and the rest of the liquid has a yellow-clear appearance. When you reach this stage, stop adding acid and let it sit between 5-20 minutes to finish the curdling process.
Once the 5-20 minutes has elapsed it is time to drain and strain your cheese. I lined my colander with cheese cloth, placed it into the sink and poured the pot contents slowly into it. Then I squeezed out as much excess moisture as I could and let it sit for 20 minutes.
Voila. You have cheese.
You will definitely want to salt the cheese. It is recommended to use 1/4 tsp salt but I used double that and didn’t find it overpowering. Once it is salted I wrapped it back in it’s cheesecloth, put it on a plate with a heavy container (Bonnie’s vegetable juice) on it and let it press for about 30 minutes.
The verdict? It turned out to be a very mildly flavored cheese. It does not hold together in a block very well even though it was pressed, and I can really taste the milk flavor – Almost like a ricotta or a cottage cheese taste. I wouldn’t chop some of this off and eat it with crackers but it would probably be great in a salad. Ultimately though, I would say it was a success. It is a super simple process to kick start what could be your lifelong love of cheese making!