NOTE: This recipe only works for RAW milk.
This is the simplest way to make cheese…
You take 1 gallon of RAW milk, put it in a large bowl or pot big enough to hold it all.
Then put it in a very warm place, between 90F and 100F (but don’t go above 110F or below 85F) for at least 24 hours and sometimes for as long as 36 hours. I like to put mine in my turned off oven with only the oven light on, every once in a while turning it on for a moment to add a bit of heat and then turning it back off. After about 3 hours I check the temperature to make sure it is in the desired range and then I check again periodically throughout the day. In the summer, I just leave the milk on the counter near the stove top, it gets plenty hot there!
The probiotics (good bacteria) that are naturally occurring in RAW milk will proliferate and as they increase in number they give off lactic acid as a by-product which causes the milk solids to separate from the whey…in my simple cheese recipe the vinegar does this for you, in this recipe the acid comes about through the natural process of fermentation.
After the curd separates from the whey, drain off the whey using a cheesecloth lined (4 layers of cheesecloth) colander set over a bowl big enough to catch all the whey. This leftover whey is rich in probiotics, enzymes and protein and can be drunk “as-is” to increase health and vitality. It is also really really good for making bread, or you can feed it to your animals, I know that my chickens LOVE whey and I have read that pigs really like it too!
The “type” of cheese that you get is determined by the temperature. If kept at the lower end of the temperature range the cheese will be a more creamy spreadable consistency, suitable for spreading on crackers or bread or for replacing ricotta cheese in a recipe. If kept at the higher end of the temperature range (but NOT over 110F, that’s when the bacteria will start to die!) you will end up with a curd that is more like the curd found in cottage cheese, just like little Miss Muffet’s “curds and whey”…I personally LOVE this type of fresh cheese curd!
To press the curds in a cheese press first salt the curds with about 2 tsp. all natural sea salt, then put the curds in your press…after a day or two, you will end up with your own unique semi-hard cheese made from the bacteria native to your region (to make a hard cheese you would have to add rennet and let it set for a few hours before draining off whey…follow the instructions that came with your rennet). Take the cheese out of the press, salt the outside of it and wrap it in more cheesecloth and put in a 40F-50F degree area with “moist coolness”…NOT the fridge, it’s too dry! Traditionally cheese was usually aged in a cave or cool root cellar.
How this cheese tastes and ages is depended upon the type of milk used, the quality of milk used and the type of probiotics present in your region. This is how all the “famous” cheeses came about, from France and Italy etc. they are most often cheeses made from RAW milk utilizing the probiotics that are naturally occurring in their area.
A truly local handmade product 😀