Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What you need to make cheese, glorious, cheese!

Has everyone received their Hoegger Supply catalog?  Wow, I love these guys...Especially for cheese making equipment. I can't wait to start making cheese!

My favorite step, cutting the cheese.. I mean.. curds.

A buddy of mine basically has access to an unlimited amount of the best raw milk on the planet and doesn't make cheese. This post is an attempt to put the kibosh on any of his namby-pamby excuses and to encourage him to roll up his sleeves and start cutting the curds like the rest of us. So here is my quick list of what you need to make cheese, glorious, cheese!

First you need a dairy producing animal such as a cow or goat, in milk of course.

 Hey Nibbles! Come here so I can milk you!

Next, you need a good seamless, stainless bucket. I got the cheap one at Lehmans for about $20. It's OK but for something you use twice a day, every day for the whole summer I think its time for me to get off my wallet and buy a really good one. If you are just starting out, or if you have really small goats, go and check out the dog food aisle at Tractor Supply. You can get small seamless, stainless buckets or stainless dog food dishes that will work just fine for the low riders who won't fit over a regular sized bucket. Don't forget to get a strainer also. Get the big one, its just easier that way.

And of course you need a really big stainless stock pot which we learned you can get on the cheap from a restaurant supply shop. While you are there get a really good thermometer and some good quality (not from the grocery) cheese cloth. Finally you need some know-how so get some books lined up like I talked about in this post.

The first step to making cheese is ruining the milk. You need rennet for this and I really like the tablets from Caprine Supply. Its just easier to mail order, they work like a dream, and I don't have any problems with using animal-based enzymes. You can find vegetable based and/or liquid rennet but I'm stuck on these.

Adding the culture - easy and fun!

After you monkey around with that portion of the process you'll add a culture for the type of cheese you are making. Most of the cheeses I make need a Mesophyllic Starter Culture but there are many kinds of cultures that you can purchase. Don't be intimidated at the fancy names . Dr. Fankhauser has a fascinating discourse on the science behind all this stuff. His site is a great reference for all your cheesemaking questions. And he is a nice man who helped me out last year.

After all the stirring, setting, straining and all that jazz, you'll need a mold to form the cheese. I got this one last year and its perfect for gouda and cheddars and such. And at $20 its practically a bargain. You can also make your own molds - or just use what you've got. I made some splendid neufchatel cheese last summer using small spring-form cheesecake pans.

Fresh neufs waiting to be aged

And the final step may be to press the cheese. You'll remember that I made my own using nothing but good old Yankee ingenuity and Appalachian-American cheap methods here.  But you can either make one or buy one from any of the cheesemaking supply places such as Hoegger, Caprine, or Lehmans... so as not to embarrass your friends and family. For now I'm stickin' with  my kitty litter buckets and I don't care who knows about it.

Ok friends, you should be able to order your cheese making supplies. Now all we have to do is just wait for these goaties to freshen and then there will be nothing but made-on-the-farm cheese as far as the eye can see!


Unknown said...

Thanks! I'll be saving this post for later. :D

Anonymous said...

Wow,loving the cheese post. Looks wonderful. You are really making me want a dairy animal now, and I am not allowed any more stock! I am also in love with your geese, what a bootiful pair.

Post sme pics once they have aged

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey RLF! A crafty person like you should be able to make cheese like a pro!

hi SenceM! There's no such thing as too many farm animals, dont you know? Have your geese recovered from their loss? Such a sad thing for a flock when they lose one of their own. Here's the rest of our gaggle (I just love them!):

Chai Chai said...

Definitely bookmarking this post, thanks. Now I just have to figure out where to order that Warlords book....

Mama Mess said...

I did get my Hoegger catalog and isn't the cover just DARLING! K........I've only tried cheese once and it wasn't exactly a sucess. I know this is a process to learn and I'm determined to do it this year, since I've now got pigs to feed all my failures to!

Weekend Cowgirl said...

I am ever so impressed! I have never tried to make cheese... I bet it was delish!

Mr. H. said...

I'm so darn jealous of you right now.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Order away, Chai Chai! You wont regret cutting the curds. I'm reading a series on Genghis Khan right now. That guy kicked you-know-what.

Thats the way, GW! There is always someone who will eat the mistakes. And remember that whey is fabulous for the whole barnyard crew.

Hi WCG! I loves me some cheese!

Ha ha, Mr. H... you need goats this year. Just start working on the fences now.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you know it? You tempt me to make cheese right in the middle of my no spending month! That's okay. I can wait 26 more days to start my next obsession!

Anonymous said...

My neighbor makes goat cheese, but then she smokes it. It gets nice yellow crust and inside is white. It is the best cheese I ever tasted.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Kris, I've been thinking about your austerity program for this month. Great work! And you'd be a fine cheese maker for sure.

Next time you get some of that goat cheese, VRT, please post some pix! It sounds wonderful.

David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

This is definately "on the list" any particular tips for someone who doesn't have access to raw milk? Will this work for store bought?

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey David! making cheese with store milk is kinda tricky - it depends on how its pasteurized. look to see if the milk is ultra pasteurized (UHT) which wont work at all. you'll need the highest milkfat possible and you may need to add cream.

i only use raw milk - which we get from our goats. unfortunately raw milk is not available for sale in some states. so i have never tried it.

a lot of people start out with Ricki Carroll's 30 Minute Mozzarella... but it hasnt worked well with the goat milk. she also has great info on the milk thing here:


small farm girl said...

Thanks for the info. I plan on making my first cheeses this spring. Wish me luck!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Good luck, SFG! But I know you are going to do great. And if a batch doesnt work out.. whatever.. the hens will love it.

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