Crave: Making cheese at home is easy with these 2 recipes

photo by: Fotolia/istetiana Photo via Mother Earth News

Making cheese at home can sound like a daunting prospect. But with the right ingredients — and a little bit of patience — you’ll be making cheese like a pro in no time.

Cream Cheese

Yields 3 cups.


1 gallon milk or cream

1⁄2 cup cultured buttermilk

1⁄2 rennet tablet, dissolved in 1⁄4 cup cold water


1. Place milk in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and rennet mixture, and mix well, stirring for about 10 minutes, or until milk begins to clabber. Cover and keep at 70 to 80 F until the whey separates from the curd, up to 15 hours. Do not jiggle the mixture during this process.

2. Line a colander with several layers of wet cheesecloth, and then set the colander inside a large bowl. Slice the clabbered milk into 1-inch cubes, and pour into the colander. Let drip for several minutes.

3. Lift the cheesecloth at all four corners, and tie the corners together to form a bag. Hang the bag over a bowl to drip until a solid but gelatinous mass remains, 8 to 10 hours or overnight. If the weather is warm, put the bag in a colander set inside a bowl, and place it in the refrigerator. Squeeze the bag occasionally. If necessary, change out the cheesecloth when it gets plugged.

4. As soon as the cheese reaches the desired consistency, pour it from the cheesecloth into a bowl. Salt, to taste, if desired, starting with 1⁄4 teaspoon. Some prefer no salt, though adding it will increase the cheese’s storage time.

5. Pack the cream cheese into small bowls or wrap in greased paper, and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Queso Fresco

Yields 6 cups.


2 gallons whole milk

1 single-use packet direct-set mesophilic starter, or 4 ounces prepared mesophilic starter, moderate temperature

1⁄4 teaspoon calf lipase powder, optional*

1⁄4 teaspoon liquid rennet, or

1⁄4 rennet tablet

1⁄4 cup cool, unchlorinated water

2 tablespoons salt


1. In a double boiler, heat milk over low heat until it reaches 90 F. Stir in mesophilic starter and lipase, if using.

2. In a small bowl, combine rennet with water. Add to milk mixture, and stir briskly for 1 minute. Hold mixture at 90 F for 30 to 45 minutes, or until curd gives a clean break.

3. Cut curd into 1⁄4-inch cubes, and place in a pot. Heat curds gradually to 95 F over 20 minutes, stirring gently every few minutes to keep the curds from sticking together. Let curds set, without stirring, for 5 minutes.

4. Drain off whey, saving it for other uses. Add salt to the curds, and heat at 95 F for 30 additional minutes, stirring if necessary to keep curds from sticking together.

5. Line a cheese mold with cheesecloth, and add the curds. Press with a 35-pound weight for 6 hours. Remove cheese from mold.

6. Store cheese in a covered container in the refrigerator.

*Calf lipase is a fat-cleaving enzyme that gives cheese a stronger flavor.


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