I Made My Own Cheese!

4:33 PM

My mind has been blown! Who knew you could make your own cheese? Or that it would be easy? This was seriously one of the highlights of my spring break. I know it probably sounds lame that I got so excited about making cheese of all things, but I found the whole process fascinating. I love making things and I love science, and this combined the two (with a very tasty result to boot!).

I have wanted to purchase this DIY cheese kit from Urban Cheesecraft on Etsy for ages, and I finally decided to do it during spring break. I got her smallest kit, Farmers' Cheese, to start with. I was very impressed. Her packaging was adorable, her instructions were clear, and her shipping was super fast! (She shipped my package the day after I ordered it!)

What's farmers' cheese? Well, according to the little booklet in my kit, it's a simple cheese that comes together in under an hour and does not require any aging. It is a flexible cheese and can turn out smooth like ricotta or firm like paneer, depending on how you make it. Farmers have made it for years as a creative use for extra milk.

For this recipe, I used a 1/2 gallon of whole cow's milk. It yielded almost exactly 12 oz. of cheese.

The kit came with cheesecloth, which goes into the strainer and is used to separate the curds from the whey.

First, I stirred the provided citric acid in 1/2 cup of water, then set it aside. I simmered the milk until it reached 185°F. I found that simmering the milk was the longest step of the whole process. When I added the citric acid to the milk, it immediately separated into white solids and a yellowish liquid -- also known as curds and whey!! (I was so excited to finally find out what Little Miss Muffet has been eating all this time.) It was so cool to see this happen. All at once it looked and smelled like cheese!

From there, you separate the curds from the whey using the cheesecloth and strainer.

And add the cheese salt and dried herbs.

I decided to save the whey because it contains a lot of leftover nutrients (protein and calcium, mainly) and actually has several uses. I used it to make pancakes as well as Trader Joe's mushroom and herb risotto. I also used it to make oatmeal by substituting about half of the milk I normally use with whey. I loved it! It gave it a tangy taste, sort of like kefir! You can also freeze whey and use it later.

So there you go! I made my own cheese! I used it right away in a delicious veggie lasagna. It was so good! The cheese kit makes a total of 3 12-oz. batches, so I'll be whipping up another wheel of cheese before too long.

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