Before I began making cheese in my own home, I assumed cheese-making was for people with heightened level of kitchen talent, and that someone such as myself, who can make half a dozen delicious lentil dishes but has yet to successfully bake a cake, would be ill-equipped for the task. And I will admit, I have not yet reached the advanced stages of cheesemaking (I’ve yet to age a cheese, for example). However, all of my experiences with cheesemaking have been both simple and gloriously fun.
In order to make cheese, yogurt, or butter, you’ll need to gather up a handful of ingredients and instruments. It’s likely that you’ll already have all the tools you need in your home kitchen (besides for cheese cloth). However, the necessary ingredients are a little more specific, and often cannot be purchased at your local supermarket. They’re not ingredients that you’ll find yourself using on other recipes, either. Fortunately, most of the required ingredients are relatively inexpensive, although the cultures vary widely in price. That being said, homemade dairy products are absolutely worth the time and investment. The fresh flavor of homemade dairy products is truly unparalleled!
Read on to learn about ingredients you’ll need for most cheese recipes, as well as which culture you’ll need for each type of cheese. All of these items are available for sale on the Bob-White Systems website, and may also be available locally. For a delightfully simple introduction to cheese-making, I recommend the Cheesemaking Kits from Bob-White Systems, which include everything you’ll need to get started. May your first forays into cheesemaking be a success!
Common Cheese Ingredients
Cheese salt (salt without iodine, also known as non-iodized salt)
Calcium chloride (CaCl2, which works to restore the calcium balance in milk; helps the milk coagulate and produce stable curds – you will want to use this if you’re working with store-bought milk, which is usually pasteurized and homogenized)
Citric acid (can substitute lemon juice or vinegar)
Common Cheese Equipment
Large stainless steel pot
Stainless cheese skimmer or stainless slotted spoon
Thermometer (ideally one that clips to your pot)
Cheese mold (depending on what type of cheese you're making)
Monterey Jack: MA11
Cultured butter (and buttermilk and crème fraiche): Flora Danica
Kefir: Kefir starter culture or kefir grains
Mozzarella: Citric acid
Ricotta: Citric acid
Tomme: MA4001 or MA4002
Blue cheese: CHOOZIT Penicillium Roqueforti