Last week we had a rainy day that lent itself to learning a skill that I have avoided for quite some time – cheese making. I had planned to spend this past winter learning all sorts of useful skills that I lack, but apparently I never got to it. So a rainy spring day seemed like the perfect opportunity to start.

First up we made quark, which is basically raw milk yogurt using a higher percentage of starter. And it worked! For the first time we were able to enjoy raw milk yogurt with our breakfast.

Next up I warmed some milk to the temperature specified, stirred in the designated amount of starter and 12 hours later we had buttermilk!

The first real cheese of the day was next – raw feta. I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 and I think I made a couple of missteps along the way. Like forgetting to let the curd rest before stirring it or trying to measure rennet x 1.5 while answering toddler questions. Despite my shortcomings the feta did turn out edible and we have been enjoying it atop grain-free pizzas ever since.

As soon as a good deal of the whey was drained out I decided I didn’t want to waste it and made ricotta cheese from the whey. Ricotta means "recooked" in Italian and is simply the whey of a hard cheese (feta) brought to just below the boiling point with a bit of vinegar thrown in. Drain it off and you get a very small, but exciting amount of (free) ricotta.

The next day I was testing a recipe for the spring cookbook that called for ricotta. Because I needed more than the 1/4 lb I had made the day before I decided to make the whole milk ricotta from the Home Dairy book. Unfortunately I think I stirred it too much or made another error because it was a total flop.

All in all, though, it was really fun to finally tackle this skill and I look forward to making (and eating) more homemade cheese. It really isn’t much more complicated than making your own bread.

Resources

The book I followed was Home Dairy by Ashley English. I can’t recommend this book enough, by the way. Many of the cheese and cultured dairy recipes celebrate raw milk, so if you like your cheese raw and you want a book that makes it really simple then this is the book for you.

The other resource I used was this cheese making kit from Cultures For Health. It is great for newbies because it has all the basics of cheese making in one kit.

How about you… ever made your own cheese?

 

16 Responses to A Day of Home Dairying

  1. Denise says:

    no, but now you have me curious!

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  2. Mindy G says:

    Can you share how you make grain free pizza?

    Thanks!

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  3. I loved reading this, Shannon. Sounds like such a fun and productive day. I’ve got ricotta on the agenda today, but that’s it. =)

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  4. Lydia says:

    No, I haven’t but it is high on my want-to-do list! I’m curious though, how do you make quark? I make homemade yogurt all the time using raw milk but this quark thing intrigues me? How different is it from reg. yogurt?

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  5. Theresa says:

    I have tried to make cheese before and it is definitely an art. I think I had similar results as you. Most things worked just fine with one or two not so good results. Mozzarella was the hardest for me to get the timing right. Kept coming out too hard.

    Thanks for reminding me about fresh yogurt. Think we will be needing a batch soon.

    Theresa

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  6. Susan says:

    That’s awesome Shannon! I’ve only made easy farmers cheese from our raw goat milk so far and plan to further explore other cheeses after we wean our little orphan piglet. She’s “hogging” all of the milk right now :) I didn’t realize how easy it is to make ricotta. Thanks for sharing that!

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  7. Angel7 says:

    I love feta cheese, especially on salads!

    I have never made my own cheese, but would like to learn how. I always thought it was too complicated, but you made it sound like it is not that hard.

    http://faithfulsolutions.blogspot.com/

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  8. Renata says:

    Well done on your cheese making endeavours! We have made farmhouse cheddar before – we made 3 batches, but only one was edible after the month long standing time. We also made ricotta from the whey. I look forward to trying new cheese recipes!
    Thanks for sharing & the lovely pictures as well!
    Have a wonderful day
    Renata:)

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  9. Katie says:

    Did I read Spring cookbook?! :) Can’t wait….we have loved the Winter one. Navy bean and bacon soup is our favorite!

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  10. This is SO fascinating! Well done. I think you’re brave for trying. I wish I could get my hands on raw milk so I could give it a go. Your pictures are fabulous, by the way. :-)

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  11. Love the pictures on this post! Just placed an ordered more cultures and supplies today, and am getting so excited to gear up the cheesemaking once again, now that our goats have freshened. I am dying to try making some feta!

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  12. Cathy says:

    I’ve tried mozzarella but it came out a bit rubbery. Now that we regularly have raw milk again, I need to try some more cheeses.

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  13. Is the snippet of the book with the buttermilk recipe from that Home Dairy book? Hate it when Amazon doesn’t let you peek!

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    Shannon Reply:

    Amy – Yes it is and all of the recipes I used for that day were from the book as well.

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  14. We have a raw milk source and I’ve been making feta and farmers cheese, also yogurt, sour cream and ricotta. I usually feed the whey to our chickens, but I like the idea of making ricotta with it even better.
    I use the book Home Cheese Making by Rikki Carroll.

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  15. Anna says:

    This is my first time actually commenting on your wonderfully encouraging site but I have been returning again and again since I discovered it! As an answer to prayer we have a source of raw milk coming into the blighted heart of Buffalo, NY. I am excited to begin simple cheesemaking. The yogurt-making has been rewarding but cheese seems so intimidating. It was good to read from someone who has “gone before” and feels that it’s comparable to making bread!
    Best,
    Anna Harris

    [Reply]

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