On Thursday, I posted about the cheese making kit that I bought from my local homebrew shop. The timing didn’t work out for me on Saturday, so I decided to try making my first cheese today. I read through the booklet and chose cottage cheese because it looks like the least work. I want to get the process down before I try making other cheeses.
I gathered the ingredients together. It just takes a gallon of milk, a Mesophilic culture and rennet. The booklet recommended adding calcium chloride to store-bought milk, so I added that as well. I have the thermometer that came in the kit in the picture, but I used a probe thermometer that I use for grilling.
I added the calcium chloride to the milk and put the pot in a sink full of hot tap water. I was surprised that warming the milk from fridge temperature to 90F only took about a half hour.
Next step is to add the culture and allow the milk to sit at 85F for 30 minutes. I wasn’t sure how to keep it at 85F, so I drained the sink and adjusted the temperature of the water to 85F. That seems to work find, after 30 minutes, the milk was still about 85F.
After 30 minutes, I added 1/4 tablet of rennet. (The color of the milk didn’t change, the picture using a flash was just too bright to use) When I get more ingredients, I will likely switch to liquid rennet. The tablets have to be broken into quarters and dissolved in 1/2 cup of water. If I used liquid I won’t have to divide the tablets, and I suspect there is more waste with rennet tablets.
Now I wait. After adding the rennet, I allowed the milk to sit undisturbed for 4 to 8 hours. This is what didn’t work for me yesterday. But today I just have yard work to do, so I will be around to check on the progress.
It’s now 5 hours later and I can get a clean break. This means that the culture and rennet did its job. Notice that there are several other areas where I tried for a clean break. It was not set up enough at 4 hours, so I just allowed it to keep working.
It was then time to cut the curd. They sell curd knives, but since curds are very soft material I decided to try a regular icing spatula. It worked great to cut the curd into 1/2″ cubes.
Once they were cut, it is time to heat the curds. This forces the whey out of the curds. The curds really firm up at this point. The temperature is very slowly brought up to 110F. Almost all the whey is pushed out of the curds.
This went into a cheesecloth lined colander. I mixed 1/2″ tsp salt into the drained cottage cheese and stashed it in the fridge.
Initial thought is that is is too tough. Some of it is almost rubbery. I will do some research to figure out what happened. But it tastes pretty good. I will try making it again.
Update: After allowing the “rubbery” cottage cheese to sit in the fridge for a day, the moisture must have redistributed. It is no longer rubbery. Lesson learned is to not rush eating it.
Update 2: Please keep in mind that any equipment that comes into contact with fermented food should be sanitized prior to use.