How to Make Your Own Cheese
Step One: Choose your milk
For the perfect cheese, raw unpasteurised milk is best. If you’re lucky enough to live close to Fen Farm Diary, why not pop along and fill up a bottle from their vending machine. But for those with a compromised immune system or pregnant women, organic unhomogenised milk (the kind with the temptingly thick layer of cream on top) will give the best set. And don’t feel that you have to stick with cow’s milk; if you’re feeling adventurous, try goat or buffalo!
Step Two: Removing the water
With milk made up of mostly water, the first step to making cheese is to remove this water and leave behind the more solid product. To do this, gently heat the milk before adding ‘starter cultures’ such as citric acid. The starter cultures turn the lactose into lactic acid and cause the milk to curdle. Adding rennet coagulates the milk to form the curd.
It’s at this point that you can determine the type of cheese you’re making - the time allowed for setting, the amount of rennet and the starter cultures can all be tweaked to create different styles of cheese.
Step Three: Separating the curds & whey
Leave the curd to set before cutting into small pieces - the smaller the pieces, the harder the cheese. You then separate the curds from the whey using either a slotted spoon or a colander lined with a boiled muslin cloth.
Step Four: Pressing the curds
Salt is often added for flavour and as a preservative, and depending on the cheese you’re making, the curds are pressed to remove the last of the whey and form the cheese in moulds.
Step Five: Wait, and then wait some more
Many cheese are then left in cool, humid stores to mature for many months. If you can’t bare to wait, mozzarella is a far quicker process with almost instant gratification. British food champion Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has a couple of recipes here if you’d like to take this introduction to cheesemaking to the next level.
Have you tried making your own cheese? Let us know! And if you don’t have the time, but just the thought of it has you craving the meltingly moreish spread of a brie or the rich crumble of a cheddar, Barbury Hill’s range of British cheese can help.
by Rebecca Lancaster, Copywriter
Rebecca, a talented writer, is a friend of Barbury Hill’s. When she’s not eating the best of British food and drink, she is writing about it. And when she’s not writing about it, she’s thinking about it.