Setting Up a Home Made Cheese Press

Pressing the fresh curds to remove excess whey is important since spoilage of the cheese is hastened by retention of too much water in the finished cheese.  This cheese press can be fashioned from items you may already have in your kitchen, or which should not be difficult to obtain.

The pictures show the use of the press to press curds from the recipe to turn five gallons of milk into cheese .  Click the last two images ( 13 & 14 ) to see full sized pictures for what the assembled press looks like.  Note that some cheese recipes are very specific about the pressure applied to a given cheese.  I have not calibrated this press, but it works perfectly with the cheese recipes I have posted .  The pressure can be adjusted either by adjusting the width of the rubber band, or by adjusting the height jar used in the press.

Supplies

  • 5 gallon canner
  • Large white dinner plate with smooth bottom
    white dish cloth (non-terry), very clean (boiled and hung in the sun for an hour or two to sterilize)
  • Pressing frame: 6″ x 9″ cylinder made from PVC pipe (or large can without ribs on the sides, ends removed)
  • The “follower:” a circular block of wood cut to fit inside pressing frame (5.6 inches diameter)
  • 5/8 inch wide rubber band cut from an automotive inner tube (cut it wider for greater pressure).
  • Two chop sticks
  • Quart mason jar (use a half gallon jar for greater pressure)

Directions

Need to organize/download images, enter text, then add images, TBD

Bil’im

The people of this brave village stand as an example to the world of how non-violent resistance can successfully resist injustice and military might.  Israel has been confiscating all “unoccupied” Palestinian land.  Israel defines “unoccupied” as any land on which no occupied structure exists.  Thus, olive orchards, vineyards, agricultural land, grazing land are all being confiscated.  These ancient Bil’im olive orchards, lovingly tended for many centuries (see the terracing in the picture below) are all officially “unoccupied.”

 

 

 

 

Young men of the Samara family with which I stayed, including Walied Samara (right) who taught me several new steps to the Debki–the national dance of Palestine. THANK YOU Walied–I loved the dancing!

Related:

Palestinian White Cheese being prepared by Mr. Samara’s daughter-in-law

 

 

 

Labneh, Recipe and Illustrations

Labneh (or Laban, as some American-Lebaneese call it) is a Lebanese soft fresh cheese made from yogurt. It is eaten within a week or so of preparation. It is the easiest cheese to make that we know of, simply made by draining the whey out of yogurt. See my yogurt page for how to prepare yogurt.

Ingredients:
1 quart yogurt
1 tsp salt

Equipment:
sterile handkerchief
two bowls
whisk
strainer

Instructions:

Uses:
Serve Labneh as they do in the Middle East:

  1. form into desired shape on a plate ( a slight depression in the middle holds the oil)
  2. drown in olive oil
  3. sprinkle with pulverized spearmint
  4. surround with Greek black olives.

Eat it with toasted pita bread slices, as the Arabs have done for millennia. Coffee compliments it well.

You can also use it like a slightly tart cream cheese.

Clotted Cream

I got an email asking how to make clotted cream. I had a general idea, but it was supplemented by an article in the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Here is a recipe which blends mine and theirs:

Original clotted cream is made from raw milk, not so easy to find these days…

1) Collect a pint (or more) of unpasteurized, unhomogenized cream or rich milk.
2) Gently heat until a semisolid layer of cream forms on the surface.
3) After it cools, skim off the thickened cream into a clean container.
4) Refrigerate.

I do not know how corporations make it.

How to Make Farmer’s Cheese

This simple cheese has several aliases. Two common ones are soft farmer’s cheese and “chevre.” They both are rather loose names.

“Farmer’s cheese” can refer to any of a number of different soft home-made cheeses which are eaten fresh.

Chevre,” which actually means goat, could refer to many different cheeses. This recipe for “Farmer’s Cheese” is nearly identical with Neufchatel Cheese, the recipe for which I posted some time ago.

Note: I have modified this recipe from one I got from Julia Farmer a year or two back. She states that she got it from a book by Jean-Claude Le Jaouen, but did not mention the name of the book.

Ingredients

  • Two gallons goats milk
  • 1/4 cup cultured buttermilk
  • ½ tablet Rennet (or two drops of liquid rennet)

Directions

FC 01-05_Heat_milk_to_20C_P31102161. Warm milk to room temperature (68-70°F)

 

 

 

 

2. FC 02-14_Dissolve_Rennet_P3120239mdDissolve 1/2 of a rennet tablet in 1/4 cup lukewarm water.

 

 

 

 

 

FC 03-05_add_rennet_Pc1224833. Stir in buttermilk, mix thoroughly.

4. Stir in rennet, mix thoroughly, cover, let sit for 24 hours.

 

 

 

FC 04-11_clean_break_P61408885. Check for clean break.

 

 

 

 

15_cut_and_stir_curd_P6140893The curd should be firm enough to cut into 1/2 inch cubes (see page on Making 5 gallons of milk into cheese for pictures). Some recipes call for stirring the curds into a slurry, and pouring into a fairly tight weave bag to drain.

However, if the weave is too loose, such as with a single layer or two of cheese cloth, the fine curd will run through at first. I far prefer to cut the curd as it makes for more easily separated curds and whey.

FC 06-09_drain_curd_Pc142491md6. Ladel the curds into a sterile cloth in a strainer (or colander), and suspend in a refrigerator or cool place.

 

 

 

 

12_salt_curd_Pc142497sm7. Let the whey drain for 24 hours in a cool place.

Salt to taste (about 1-2 teaspoons), store covered in the refrigerator for a week or two. This cheese will not keep for much longer.

 

Julia Farmer further says that you can:

  • Press into small cheese molds for little cheeses
  • Roll them in ashes, place in a jar with garlic and herbs, cover with extra virgin olive oil
  • Use it in cheese cake
  • Whip the cheese up with some powdered sugar, vanilla extract and a bit of lemon juice until its well blended and then serve as dessert with sliced strawberries over the top.

Or…
“You can add a pinch of penicillium mold with the starter and cure them at 50°F for a Brie/Camembert clone.” I have not tried that one yet, but have made Blue Cheese with these curds with great success.

Paneer

Making Paneer at Home, Illustrated

Making paneer (or panir) is a simple exercise in acid/heat precipitation of protein.  The only challenge is not to burn the milk while you heat it to hot but not boiling.  A thick bottomed stainless steel pot should do, but lacking that, try heating the milk in a water bath so that the volume of water stabilizes the temperature. Here is my recipe for panir:

Related

Setting Up a Home Made Cheese Press

Making Swiss Cheese

If you are new to cheese making, please read the page on Beginning Cheese Making for suggestions of easy cheeses to start with.

Swiss cheese is not one of the simpler cheeses to make. The following recipe is still being refined. I believe it is more complex than absolutely necessary, but have not yet performed all the experiments to know how to best streamline it. The eyes were too small and the bite too mild when I made it. If you have experience making Swiss cheese, let us know the lessons your have learned.

One of the major differences between Swiss and other cheeses is that a unique bacterium, Propionibacterium shermanii, is used to ferment the cheese after it is formed into a wheel. This bacterium produces carbon dioxide (hence the bubbles or “eyes” in the cheese), and propionic acid which gives Swiss its unique bite.

Ingredients to turn a gallon of milk into a pound of Swiss cheese:

  • 1 gallon fresh milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh yogurt (with equal parts L. bulgaricus and S. thermophiles.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Propionibacterium shermanii culture
  • 1/2 tablet Junket Rennet

Procedure

  1. Warm milk to 95 F.
  2. Add small amount of milk to the yogurt and P. shermanii cultures, stir to mix, whisk thoroughly into milk, let set 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, dissolve ½ tablet rennet in 1/4 cup fresh cool water
  4. Stir the dissolved rennet into the inoculated milk, cover undisturbed for about 30 minutes until a clean break is achieved. If it takes longer than 30 minutes, use more rennet next time.
  5. Cut the curd by making 1/8th inch vertical cuts in two directions to make long 1/8th inch strips. Then whisk the strips with a pastry whisk so that all levels of the curds are cut. Final curd pieces should be the size of a wheat grain. Maintain temperature at 95 F.
  6. Hold the temp at 95 F for 30-40 more minutes, then slowly increase the temperature with stirring to 125 F. Hold at 125 F for an additional 45 minutes.
  7. Test for completed cooking by squeezing a handful of curds into a ball. If it readily breaks up when rubbed between palms, it is ready.
  8. Let curds settle, dip off some whey.
  9. Dip out the curds into a clean handkerchief suspended in a strainer over a catch bowl.
  10. Pick up the four corners of the handkerchief, dip into whey to loosen curds, then set in cheese hoop.
  11. Press for five minutes, remove, replace cloth, and press for three more hours.
  12. Rinse cloth in saturated salt water, replace in press for three more hours.
  13. Repeat rinsing of cloth in salt water and pressing for three additional hours.
  14. Repeat rinsing of cloth in salt water and press overnight.
  15. Prepare saturated salt water bath: dissolve 5 Tbl salt in 16 oz water (some salt remains undissolved). Pour into a plastic container slightly wider than the cheese, cool the salt solution down to 45 F. Float cheese for two days in this 45 F brine, turning each day, sprinkle salt on surface of cheese. [NOTE: I have recently received an email that suggests this time is too long, that the cheese may become too salty. I am not certain about the finer points of brining the cheese, and am eager to hear any information others may have on the subject.]
  16. Finally, place cheese on board at 50-55 F, 90% humidity. Wipe and dry board daily for 10 days. Wipe the cheese with salt soaked cloth and turn.
  17. Rub the cheese with salt at end of 10 days.
  18. Move cheese to 70 F, 70-80 % humidity.
  19. Wipe with clean salt water 2x per week, continue for a month and a half. Cheese should puff up as characteristic holes form.
  20. Final curing at 40-45 F takes 4 months to a year.

Fresh Mozzarella from a Gallon of Milk

If you are new to cheese making, please read Beginning Cheese Making carefully. Mozzarella is a challenging cheese and should not be attempted as your first cheese. This is a recipe to make a fresh mozzarella which I have developed from a recipe for pasta filata (a type of cheese of which mozzarella is one example) found on an Kenyan Cheesemaking site.

The modified recipe is more straightforward, easier and  dependable than the traditional Italian Fresh Mozzarella I posted on the web in the Summer of 2000. It requires preparation of the curd the night before, allowing the curd to mature in a warm place overnight, and then warmed and molded the next morning.

Stages of Mozzarella

There are six stages to making this mozzarella, many of which follow the general outline of most cheese preparation:

  1. INOCULATION
    Bacterial starter is added to slightly acidify the milk so rennet works
  2. COAGULATION
    Rennet is added which causes acidified milk protein to coagulate
  3. CUTTING THE CURD
    Curd is cut to allow the whey (liquid remnant of milk) to be expressed
  4. ACIDIFICATION
    Curds are kept warm for 8 hours, allowing bacteria to further acidify
  5. MELTING
    Acidified curds are stirred with hot water causing them to melt together
  6. MOLDING AND BRINING
    The soft curd mass is kneaded into balls, cooled and placed in brine

Ingredients

Day 1

  • 1 gallon fresh milk
  • 1/4th cup cultured buttermilk
  • ½ tablet rennet

Day 2

  • ½ gallon 85 C water
  • ½ gallon ice water
  • 1/4 cup salt Equipment

Equipment

Day 1

  • 1 ½ gallon pot with thick heavy bottom and well fitting cover
    sterilized by boiling 1/2 inch water covered, 5 minutes
  • thermometer, 0-110 C (32-230 F)
  • whisk
  • long bladed knife

Day 2

  • 1 gallon bowl
  • ½ gallon jar with lid
  • slotted spoon

Illustrated Stages

Inoculation

 

Coagulation

Cutting the Curd

Acidification

Melting

Molding and Brining

After completing those steps, be sure to:

  1. Drop the cooled mozzarella balls in the brine, cover and refrigerate.
  2. After 12-24 hours, remove from brine, place balls in zip lock bags until used. (Do not leave too long in the brine, or the surface will soften.)
  3. Use within several days or a week of preparation.  Fresher is better.

Related

Beginning Cheese Making

Buttermilk

Troubleshooting a Clean Break, Cheese Making

Mozzarella, Italian

Rennet for Making Cheese

Ricotta Cheese