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Cheesemaking Basics for the Beginner

| 11/12/2013 9:50:00 AM

Jana Smart KoschakMost people getting into home cheesemaking have aspirations of making their favorite aged Cheddar or creamy blue right off the bat. Not to discourage anyone, but I have found it best to start with a basic soft cheese or a simple cultured dairy product like yogurt, cream cheese, or butter. These products require little preparation and minimal equipment and are harder to mess up than an aged cheese. Once you master the basics, which I’ve outlined below, it will be easier to move onto more advanced cheeses like Cheddar…or to come up with your own recipes!

cheesemaker tools
Basic tools for the home cheesemaker

Essential Equipment:

Large heavy-bottomed stainless steel stock pot (10 to 20 quart): A stainless steel pot is easy to clean and sanitize and won’t react with the milk. A pot that is as wide as it is tall will make cutting and stirring curds much easier for a novice and a heavy bottom will protect the milk from scorching if you cook directly on a gas or electric stove. For best results, I recommend purchasing two pots that fit together to create a double-boiler, which prevents scorching or overheating. You can also use your sink as a water bath by filling it up with hot water and submerging your cheese pot in it to reach temperature. Look to purchase your pots from a reputable kitchen supply store (fake stainless steel is out there!); I recommend All-Clad brand. For larger pots, I like buying from Midwest Supplies, which sells equipment for home brewers.

Thermometer (digital or dial): Temperature accuracy is important, so invest in a good food thermometer. Dairy Connection offers thermometers specifically for cheese making.

Perforated stainless steel ladle: A ladle with small holes is best for stirring in rennet and scooping curds.

11/14/2013 7:24:34 PM

Jana, I'm so impressed with your article on making cheese. It's amazing how many little tips and hints and cautions you've been able to include for us beginners. You've supplied details that simply aren't available anywhere else, especially about the type of utensils to use and what to choose when buying. Thanks you so much for sharing all your hints and tips and for encouraging us to 'take the plunge' into cheese making.

11/13/2013 7:40:11 AM

Jana, Welcome to the GRIT blogging community. Great post on making cheese. I've never tried to make cheese in any form but your instructions make it sound easy. I may have to put cheese making on the list of things to do in the Winter down time for the garden. More time in the kitchen may be just the thing to pass those Winter days by faster. Thanks for taking the time to write a great post about cheese making. ***** Have a great cheese making day.

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