Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Homemade Raw Milk Farmer Cheese - Tradition with Cooking

I am one of those people who likes to know how to do things myself. This is the most true with food. I love knowing how people in the past before the advent of big grocery stores made all of the items in their kitchen, especially cheese. I figure if people were making cheese for hundreds of years before all of our technology, then surely I can learn to make it with all of the conveniences of a modern kitchen. As it turns out you don't actually need much to make cheese. It's kind of sad that it's a lost art for so many, because cheese making isn't particularly hard and it can taste oh so good!

I've made this farmer cheese quite a few times now. I only make it during the spring, summer and fall when I'm able to get fresh raw milk. Since farmer cheese isn't aged, you have to eat it within about a week before it starts to go south. I do have a recipe for an aged cheese which is awesome and I'll be sharing that in the next couple of weeks.

The biggest learning process of making this cheese was trying to figure out how much salt to add. The original recipe from Moon Wise Herbs didn't specify how much salt was needed. The first time I added about a teaspoon or so and this wasn't even close to enough. Each time I made the cheese I added a bit more and finally this last time I made it I think I added the right amount, which was 2 tablespoons.

What You'll Need: makes approx. 1 pound of cheese

  • 1 gallon of raw milk
  • 1 quart of whey - optional
  • 2 tbsp. sea salt
  • Liquid rennet - Twin City folks, you can get rennet at Whole Foods in the yogurt section.
  • Cheese press - if you don't have one, no big deal. I don't so I used some heavy books and 2 plates to make my press
  • Cheese cloth
  • Large pot
  • Mixing spoon
  • Thermometer
  • Sharp knife
  • Slotted spoon
  • Large Strainer
  • Containers to store 1 gallon of whey - 1/2 gallon mason jars work great
  • 2 Large bowls

Getting Started

1. First we want to sanitize our cooking items so we don't accidentally introduce any unwanted bacteria. Fill your large pot with several inches of water and bring to a boil. Add your mixing spoon, cheese cloth and knife if possible to it and boil them all for about 10 minutes.

Also, as you make your cheese, make sure your hands are very clean.

2. In your large pot, heat your milk and whey to between 80° and 90° Fahrenheit, then remove from heat. Add 13+ drops of rennet to the milk and stir well. Let the milk sit for 45 min – 1 hour until it has taken on the texture of tofu. You'll know it's ready when you stick your CLEAN finger into it and get a clean break. To understand a clean break better, check this link out, it's explained very well: Clean Break




3. Cut the mass into 1/2" chunks, using a grid pattern. Here is how the Fankhause cheese page explains it: Once a clean break is achieved, cut the curd with a long knife : begin at edge of pot, cut straight down to bottom. Cut repeatedly parallel to first cut, but increasing the angle of the knife until reaching other side of pot. Rotate the pot 90 degrees, cut as before . Rotate and cut two more times, yielding ½ inch cubes of curd .




4. Return the pot to your stove and slowly heat the curd chunks to 100 degrees. You want to do this very slowly about 2 degrees every 5 minutes. Continually stir the curd with your hands or a spoon, making sure nothing burns on the bottom of the pot. If you find any large pieces of curd cut them up. You'll notice the curds will start to shrink in size as they release the whey.




5. With a slotted spoon remove the curds from the whey and place into a large bowl. Add your salt and mix thoroughly. You notice the whey will continue to release from the curds.




6. Place your curds into a cheese cloth lined strainer that has been placed over a large bowl for catching the whey.




7. Bring your corners of your cheese cloth together and tie together, then hang the curds for about an hour over your large bowl to catch any more whey that might come out.




8. Put your curds into a clean cheese cloth and then place into a cheese press or put between two plates with a heavy object placed on top. In my case I used two huge art history books from college. I knew I'd find a use for those babies again! :-) Press the cheese for 12 - 24 hours .




9. Now it's time to enjoy some of your homemade cheese! You'll love it. Any leftovers can go in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note: You'll have about a gallon of whey left over from making this cheese, don't throw it away! You can keep whey in the fridge for a couple of months or freeze it to use for all kinds of things or you can just drink it. You also can make ricotta cheese with it, which I'll show you how to do in the next couple of weeks.


20 comments:

  1. can't wait to try this one, Mike loves farmer cheese.
    Oh and those are the exact books I use for weighting various projects at home!

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  2. Got to love those art books! I actually do still use them for referencing, but they work great as weights too!

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  3. I would love to try this! Your step by step photos were beautiful...and more importantly, helpful. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. You make it look so easy...thanks so much for sharing your techniques! I would love to try this!

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  5. Nice job! you did a beautiful job describing your technique! Wonderful!

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  6. That sounds amazing! I've never tried making cheese myself, even though we eat a lot of milk products in Sweden. I'm really curious though. I think I'll have to try after reading your post!

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  7. I am sure I won't be able to create that cheese. But the picture of the cheese made me wonder if I should give it a try then quit. They looks out of the world yummy.

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  8. Thank you all and it really isn't hard to make. I hope you will give it a try. Homemade cheese is awesome. I have a couple more cheese recipes coming in the next month or so.

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  9. I have never seen a "recipe" to make this..you have turned the average home chef into the owner of his or her own deli!

    Great job!

    http://www.CookingUpAStorminCA.ning.com

    I would love you guys to join my cooking blog some time!

    You are a really talented lady. When I have more time I will look at more of your postings and paintings.

    Polly Motzko

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  10. Thank you Polly, I'll check out your blog!

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  11. Your recipe calls for 1 quart of whey -optional. Where do you get whey? Do you mean the powdered kind? Or liquid? Will the recipe work well without it?
    Thanks, Barb

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  12. Hi Barb, whey is a bi-product from cheese. When you separate your cheese curds from their liquid, the liquid that is left is whey. It's perfectly fine to make this cheese without the whey. For ever gallon of milk you use to make cheese you'll get close to a gallon of whey. I was really surprised the first time I made cheese to see how much liquid was left over.

    Oh and don't throw away your whey, it has lots of purposes, including drinking it straight up, soaking grains in mixture of it and water and you can even make ricotta cheese from it, which I'll show how you to do next week in one of my posts. I am actually making some ricotta right now. It's wonderfully delicious.

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  13. I cant seem to find liquid rennet only the tablets. Have you used these? How many would you put in?
    jrogerclan@gmail.com

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  14. Hi Jamie, you can probably use a half tablet of rennet. I haven't used the tablets, as I can't get them here, but I did see on one site that 1 tablet of rennet is equivalent to approximately 1 tsp. of liquid rennet.

    Most of the the cheese recipes I see use either a half or a whole tablet. This recipe doesn't make a ton of cheese, so a 1/2 tablet should be more than enough.

    Hope that helps and good luck with your cheese making!

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  15. Hi, and thanks for this information. I'm excited to start! One question: if I wanted to add some herbs or chives, what's the right stage at which to do that?
    thanks,
    MAC

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  16. Hi MAC, sorry for the delay in response. I'm actually not sure when to add herbs. I think I'd do it once the curds have been made, but before you put them in a cheese press (or my balancing book act!).

    Good luck!

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  17. I found your site when I googled raw milk cheese and am excited to give this a try after a trip to Lakewinds- hopefully they will have the rennet. My youngest only drinks raw milk and zero processed foods so we have yet to introduce cheese. At almist 19 months I figure it is time to figure this cheese making stuff out! Thanks for sharing your recipe and tips! I wonder if it will work with goat milk too?

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    1. I hope you like the cheese! I don't know why it wouldn't work with goats milk. I'm actually hoping to have either goats or sheep in the near future so I can start making fresh milk cheese from them. Healthy and wonderful flavor!

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