Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A spot of cheese making

We had a lovely day yesterday over at a friends house making cheese. We're very lucky as Phil is a dairy farmer, so has a lot of milk! There's something quite lovely about making cheese with milk straight from the cow.

We were making feta, ricotta and queso blanco.  The queso blanco and ricotta are ready to eat immediately, but the feta takes a while of brining ( between 4 and 6 weeks - this is our recipe, others are different)
After the 6 weeks we cut it up into wee blocks and put in lovely jars with olive oil and perhaps some herbs. Rosemary is lovely. This way it lasts for a long time.

How to make Feta

We started off with 10 litres of milk ( straight from cow) in a double boiler. Heat this to 37 degrees.
Now you need your starters -
Mesophile and thermophile. Add half a teaspoon of each. And a pinch of lipase. Wait 30 minutes to grow starter bacteria. In New Zealand you can get these from Binn Inns, trade me and various cheesemakers who have websites. You can then use UHT milk, mixed with starter to make more... and never have to buy again!

Add a teaspoon of rennet diluted in 30ml of cooled boiled water. Stir into milk for one minute and leave covered to set. ( check strength and dosage as rennet comes in different strengths)
Wait 60 minutes.

Cut curd into 20mm cubes. Cut left to right, top to bottom, then sort of sideways through the cheese to form cubes. Stir once gently every 30 minutes for next hour and a half. ( 3 times)

Lift curds carefully into sanitised moulds. Leave in moulds on draining mat overnight. ( we left them for a few hours as we were having to take them home) Turn them 2 or three times.

 Make up brine - 1/2 cup salt to 2 lt water.
Remove the cheese from the moulds and place in brine solution.
Store at 10c. Ripens in 4 - 6 weeks

Here it is in brine. If it looks like the feta is going soft (like this does) you add a teaspoon vinegar to the brine solution.

We've done this recipe several times and it never fails to give us the most delicious feta.
I know it all sounds a bit tricky and very time consuming, but once you get the hang of it, it's great.

Now for some Queso Blanco

We used 5 litres of milk. 
Heat the milk in a non aluminum pan until just before it boils.
Then add 1/4 cup of white vinegar.
The curds will separate from the whey.
Let simmer for a couple of minutes.
Then put curds into a muslin lined collander, drain for a bit, then gather up the muslin and hang to drain for a few hours. If you want to add herbs do it before you gather up the muslin. You can also add salt here if you want.
We added basil to one half.

It's also known as Paneer. We put some in our dahl last night for dinner and it was lovely!

If you look on the internet you'll find many recipes, some are a little different, these work well for us!


  1. Anonymous10:17 am

    How wonderful to be able to make your own cheese!

  2. It really is! I love it. But you do really need to leave at least half a day, preferable a day aside to do it, especially if you're doing it with friends and have a lovely long lunch in the middle!

  3. What a lovely way to spend the day, and lucky you to know a dairy farmer. I agree, it makes the whole process more real, more enjoyable. I'm ducking away you know where for a bit of much needed r&r. Be back energised soon!

    1. how lovely! have a fab time and say Hi to Nyoman. xxx

  4. You make it sound so simple, I guess it is really, but it's something I've not had a go at yet. I will, Lovely Hubby bought me a cheese making starter kit for Christmas!

    I love cheese!!

    Sue xx

    1. Sue it is actually simple - well, feta is. We've not had much success with brie or camembert - need somewhere to stire them as they ripen and we just don't have a suitable place. You could make queso blanco in 15 minutes!

  5. I would love to one day try my hand at cheese making. The whole process is amazing.

  6. Excellent post!! I've helped make paneer years ago when I was in India very yummy you've inspired me to have a go but with goats or sheep milk...

    1. sadly, the feta seems to be leaching out into the brine and going incredibly soft!! I've tried putting vinegar into the brine but it's made no difference. I hope it's not ruined :( It's never done this before and I'm wondering if we didn't leave it to sit long enough before we put in into the brine...

  7. Alan and Penny9:50 am

    Very many years ago I went to a days cheese-making course at (the now defunct) Ilkley College. It was given by a local farmer' she was also a keen local historian, altogether a very interesting lady who died a few years' ago. I'll write a couple of her recipes for you--we made them on that day, they worked well but I must admit I've never tried to make any since!!

    Take 4 pints of milk, and heat it to 86 degrees F. Add 1/3-1/2 teaspoon rennett (if Junket rennett used take 2 teaspoonsfull)
    Stir for 3 minutes, the top stir (I can't remember what she meant by that but logically I assume it means to stir just the top of the milk!!) until set. Using a shallow scoop or a saucer scoop out one scoopful and set it on one side. GENTLY ladle the curds into a mould placed on a wetted rush mat, on a wetted board (!!!) and leave to drain overnight.
    DAY 2 Using a second set of mat and board-turn the mould over.
    DAY 3 Turn mould over again, salting each side.
    DAY 4---EAT!

    To 3/4 pint of milk add 1/4 pint of whipped cream.
    Heat this up to 75degrees F.
    Add 2-3 drops of Rennett and stir for minutes.
    Leave for 3 to 4 hours, then cut it accross up and down, and sideways.
    Scoop it gently into muslin, tie this up with string and hang from a tap or handy hook to drain for approx 4 hours.

    Years ago, in the days when I bought full fat milk I used to do this with slightly-gone-off milk. It made a very tasty supper dish, when drained of course, mixed with chopped chives or spring onions, chopped hard boiled eggs and raddishes.

    Good luck!! Fondest love to you both from the 2 of us.
    XXXXX Penny


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Laura x