Making your own cheese
At our farm, you can also make you own cheese.
It will take a day because cheese making takes time... but in return, you'll have your own cheese! The manual was written by Nel Zwikker. She has a lot of experience with making cheese and wrote a set of instructions we are happy to share with you. Farmer Truus will, of course, be there to help you make your cheese.
Manual 'How to make cheese'
1. Use raw milk, meaning straight from the cow. Never use processed milk from a carton! 1 kilo of cheese requires at least 10 litres of raw milk. Pour the milk into a bucket or container. For 10 litres of milk, use a bucket or container that can hold at least 15-20 litres.
2. Heat the milk to a temperature of 29 degrees Celsius. When the milk reaches that temperature, slowly add the lactic starter while stirring. You'll need to stir with a ladle for about half a minute. The ratio is 1 litre of lactic starter for about 40-50 litres of milk.
3. After that, add the rennet while stirring. Stir again for another half minute. You need five drops of rennet per litre of milk.
4. Next, put the cover on the bucket to allow the milk to slowly cool. Leave it for 25 minutes.
5. After 25 minutes, you can test it for the first time.
Draw a line through the milk with the thermometer, if 'whey' forms in the slit, it'll be good. If it doesn't, try again after 10 minutes.
6. Next, take 10 minutes to calmly cut it evenly using the sharp side of a curd cutter.
You'll notice that the milk will start to separate into curds and whey.
7. After cutting for 10 minutes, put the cover back on the bucket and leave it for 2 minutes. After that, scoop off about 1/3 of the whey using a litre measuring cup. Make sure you have a bucket with a sieve ready. The whey goes through the sieve, so you can catch the curds in the sieve and put them in a separate bucket. The whey will separate from the curds. We'll use the curds, generally not the whey. You can throw the 'whey' away or drink it.
8. Add clean, warm water to the curds. It's important to carefully monitor the temperature while stirring.
Add enough warm water for the curds to reach a temperature of 32 degrees Celsius.
9. Stir again for 10 minutes, but now use the blunt side of the curd cutter. The mass needs to continue moving to separate the whey from the curds.
10. Afterwards, you cover it again with a lid and leave it for 2 minutes. Then you scoop the whey off again, keeping the curd mass submerged.
11. Then add warm water again, stir it and add enough warm water for the mass to reach a temperature of 36 to 37 degrees Celsius.
12. Next, stir again for 10 minutes but this time with a ladle.
13. After that, cover the bucket again and leave it for 20 minutes (ripening)
14. After 20 minutes, scoop off as much whey as you can.
15. Preheat the cheese moulds in hot water.
16. Put the cheese (curds) in the moulds, lightly press them and make sure there is a good amount of cheese in the mould. Put the moulds on a serving tray, since the 'whey' will easily seep out. Leave it like that for a few minutes, allowing the mess to settle because of the whey seeping out.
17. Put the cover on the cheese (moulds) and leave it upside down for 10 minutes.
18. Flip it over again and put it under the press. Press for half an hour with a half press weight.
19. After half an hour, flip over the cheese in the mould and put it under the press again.
20. Now you can press your cheeses with a full weight. Keep this up for about 3.5 to 4 hours
21. Flip over the cheese again and put it back in the mould. If the cheese doesn't look smooth, put it in warm water for 10 minutes, return it to the mould and press it with a full weight for half an hour to an hour.
22. When pressing is done, you'll still need to leave the cheese in the mould for 8-10 hours (= usually overnight). After that, you can take the cheese from the mould and leave it in a brine bath for 8-10 hours. Be sure to flip over the cheese halfway through.
23. Finally, dab the cheese dry with kitchen paper or a clean dishcloth.
After 1-2 days the cheese will be dry, and you can apply a coating with a butter brush. Leave the cheese on a wooden shelf and flip it once a day. After about 2 or 3 weeks, you can eat (young) cheese, after about 5 weeks you can eat the (young mature) cheese.
- Make sure everything is clean.
- Cheesemaking can be done in the kitchen or on a table in a room.
- Properly wash your hands every time.
- Cleanliness is really very important. If too many bacteria manage to get into the curds/cheese, there's a risk your cheese will turn into a 'bomber'. In that case, the cheese will start to swell and ferment after 3-4 weeks, and won't be any good.
- Always pay close attention to time and temperature when you're making cheese!
What do you need?
A full bucket of raw milk | lactic starter or buttermilk | rennet | bucket or container for the milk | bucket for the whey | tray or container for putting the cheese moulds on | clean towel or dishcloth | sieve | ladle | thermometer | curd cutter | plastic cheese moulds | litre measuring cup | egg timer | cheese press (or juice cartons or something similar) | weights for the cheese press | thin boards to put between under the press between the moulds, when you stack two on top of each other | hot water | coating (a yellow/white fluid that you apply as a protective layer on the dry cheese to prevent it from drying out)
How do you make a brine bath?
- The ratio is 250 grams of kitchen salt to 1 litre of water.
- Use at least 5 litres of water in a bucket
- Renew the brine at least once a year and add one cup of the fluid from the old brine to the new.
- Store the brine between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius.
How do you make lactic starter?
Instead of lactic starter, you can also use buttermilk
- Bring 1 litre of milk close to boiling.
- Leave the pan of milk in cold water to cool it to 20 degrees.
- Take the pan from the water and stir in the lactic starter culture powder.
- Leave the pan with the lactic starter at room temperature for 20-24 hours.
- Next, gently stir and store it in the fridge in a covered container. You can also keep a small quantity separate. You can use that to turn another litre of milk into a lactic starter.
- The lactic starter will keep for up to 4-5 days in the fridge.
What is a proper press weight?
You'll need to flip and press the cheese several times. You can, of course, use official weight, but you can also choose a creative alternative by using some juice cartons as press weights.
The official way, with a cheese press
- Half a press weight is 1 time the weight of the cheese
- A whole press weight is 2 times the weight of the cheese.
The creative way, with juice cartons
Half the press weight is 2 times the weight of the cheese.
(1 pound cheese = 1250 grams)
The whole press weight is 5 times the weight of the cheese.
(1 pound cheese = 2500 grams)
Age of the cheese
If you're aiming for a pound cheese, you can use the following 'ages'.
- After 2 weeks, you'll have young cheese
- If you let the cheese ripen for 4 weeks, you'll get young mature cheese
- Mature cheese needs 8 weeks of ripening.
- After 12 weeks, you'll have old cheese