- 20 Qt Stock Pot. I have the Norpro KRONA 20 Quart Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Lid
- 21.5 Qt Water-Bath Canner w/ rack
- 12” Thermometer. Here’s my favorite, Dial Thermometer 12” Probe Stainless Steel
- A skimmer. Here’s the one I use, Stainless Steel Skimmer
- Icing knife. Here’s where I bought mine, 12″ Curd Knife on Amazon
- Measuring spoons. I own this set, Norpro 18/10 Stainless Steel Measuring Spoon Set (Including Mini)
- Stainless Steel Measuring Cups
- A 18” Stainless Whisk
- Stainless Steel Colander. Don’t use your kitchen colander, buy another colander just for cheesemaking.
- Mesh Strainer Stainless Steel
- Cheese cloth. Look for the “butter cheesecloth” fine holes from New England Cheesemaking or Glengarry Cheesemaking.
- Optional: pH meter, here’s the one I have… Hanna Instruments HI 98128W pH Meter
- In your cheese cave, you need a Travel-Size Personal Humidifier or some whey to raise your humidity to 85% and also a hygrometer to measure humidity, here’s my favorite Thermo-Hygrometer by ThermoWorks.
- Milk: 4 Gallons. Click HERE for my post on milk and sanitation for the full story on what milk to use.
- Mesophilic type II direct set culture: 1/2 teaspoon (or 1 cup / 8 cubes of a mother culture prepared culture)
- Calcium Choloride (optional): 1/2 teaspoon, diluted just before use in 1/2 cup clean water
- Annattoo coloring: 3/4 teaspoon coloring diluted just before use in 1/2 cup water (optional only if you want orange cheese)
- Rennet: 3/4 teaspoon, diluted in 1/2 cup water just before use
- Salt: 1/4 cup (must be non iodized)
1.) Place all your stainless equipment in the stock pot and fill with water. Boil for 15 minutes. Sanitize plastic equipment with water and a tad of bleach, then rinse well. Thoroughly clean and sanitize counters, sink and any place you will be making cheese. Refer to Part 4 of my Cheesemaking Series for more information. Optional step, check pH of cold milk. pH of good raw milk should be between 6.6 and 6.7. Milk that is 6.9 and above is bad. Take pH before adding anything to the milk.
2.) Warm milk to 84 degrees in your double boiler.
3.) Sprinkle culture on top of milk. Wait 3-5 minutes. Cover the pot. Then stir culture in with 20/20 top bottom turns (turn milk over in a big O shape).
4.) Raise temperature to 90 degrees, maintain temperature for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
5.) Add calcium chloride diluted in water (optional). Stir for 20 turns.
6.) Add annatto coloring (optional) diluted in water. The color will gradually appear in the milk. Don’t add more.
7.) Add liquid rennet diluted in water. Stir for 20 turns. Stop milk from moving. Cover and let sit undisturbed for 45 minutes or until you get a clean break.
8.) Cut the curd into 1/2” cubes then let the curd heal for 5 minutes. Cut with a icing spatula or with a large whisk.
9.) Over the next 30 minutes, stir gently and raise the temperature to 102 degrees. After temperature is reached, stir curds to the size of half a peanut while holding the temperature at 102 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes until curds passes the texture test. See video and picture below for example. An optional step is to check the pH of the whey, it should be between 6.1 and 6.3 pH.
10.) Let the curds settle to the bottom of the pot and then pour off all the whey. Use a strainer to catch any curds that try and escape, put the curds back in the pot. Save the whey for baking, ricotta, fermenting veggies, use in the garden (blueberry’s love the acid), making fizzy drinks, the compost, soaking liver, feeding animals, soaking grains or fattening your pigs! 🙂
11.) Now we’re ready to “cheddar” the cheese. Let the curds drain in a cheesecloth lined strainer in the pot sit for 15 to 20 minutes to form a slab. Cut the slab in two. Turn the slab over in the pot. You can also stack the slabs to help release whey.Your goal is to keep the slab at 102 degrees. Pour out extra whey in bottom of the pot. Keep pot with curds in your double boiler. Turn every 20 minutes for 40 minutes to two hour or until a pH of 5.3 to 5.64 is reached.
12.) Mill the curds… cut the slab in to strips, french fry size. Place curd back in pot and sprinkle with 1/2 the total salt. Wait 5 minutes (put back in caner full of warm water, cover). Add the rest of the salt. Mix salt well. Wait another few minutes. Your goal is to get to 2% salt content. Keep curds warm in your double boiler with lid on.
13.) Boil a pot of water and pour it over your mold and cheese cloth. Then fill your cheesecloth lined mold with the curds quickly so the curds don’t cool down.
14.) Press your cheese until you feel resistance and see whey coming out. Wait 15 minutes and take the cheese out, flip it and repack it. Press with stronger weight, make sure that the whey that’s coming out isn’t too cloudy. Wait 30 minutes unmold, flip and repack cheese. Press with maximum weight needed to close rind. Press for 12 hours. After about 6 hours I usually lessen up the weight. I have a tendency of putting too much weight on my cheese! Most books will tell you to put 50 lbs of weight on your cheese. But, it depends on your press, that number is subjective! 🙂
15.) Air dry cheese for 7-10 days in an environment of 50-55 degrees and 85% humidity.
16.) Seal the cheese, by either bandage rapping, vacuum sealing, dipping in melted beeswax or cheese paraffin wax. Click HERE for part 8 of my cheesemaking series, how to wrap cheese!
17.) Age cheese at 50-55 degrees and 85% humidity for 2 to 12 months. Turn cheese twice a week. Brush cheese every so often. For complete instructions, click HERE for part 9, working your cheese cave.