By Contributing Editor Kristina Strain
We get a lot of questions about making cheese and wanted to provide this FAQ for those who want to learn more about the process.
Q: How can I clean my cheese cloth for reuse?
A: It’s a good idea to not use soap for cleaning your cheese cloth. We recommend putting it in your washing machine or dishwasher on ‘quick cycle’ without soap. Make sure to use a hot setting. You can also just do it by hand with hot water.
Q: What do I do with all of the whey left from my cheesemaking?
A: You can substitute for water when baking this will give your baked goods breads a sourdough flavor. You can use it in smoothies for the nutritional benefits. You can also feed it to animals for extra nutrition.
Q: Why would I want to make my own cheese?
A: Many people think it would be a lot of work for something you can buy at the store and save time and money. The difference is that home made cheese, when made properly taste far better than store purchased. Also, you can make your own variations and signature cheeses.
Q: What types of milk work best for making cheese?
A: Use whole cow milk. Preferably fresh. Of course if you’re making goat cheese, you’ll need goats milk.
Q: What are the types of cheese one should consider making when starting out?
A: Some simple starter cheese are Cottage Cheese, Mozzarella, Goats cheese, Ricotta, Cheddar, Gouda, Monterey Jack, Feta, Colby, Parmesan
Q: How long will my home made cheese last?
A: Typically a couple weeks refrigerated unless you seal it with wax and store properly. Wax sealed cheese can last a long time and be ‘aged’ if stored properly.
Q: What do I need to make cheese at home?
A: You can start by purchasing one of our complete kits for cheesemaking to simplify the process. In general what is required is A mold for forming your cheese, rennet tables mesophilic or thermophilic starter culture, a cooking thermometer, calcium chloride, cheesecloth, salt, instructions and wax if you are planning to seal the cheese.
Q: What makes for a soft verses a hard cheese?
A: The culture used will result in a soft or hard cheese and depending on which you are producing you’ll want to take additional considerations in the recipe, timing, milk used.
Q: What can go wrong and what should I look out for when making cheese?
A: You need to make sure you use fresh and quality ingredients. Also, you must make sure that everything which has contact with the ingredients are sterilized. Taking the time to make sure that you carefully follow instructions accurately is critical as well.
Q: What about sheeps milk cheese? What do I need to know?
A: You only need to substitute sheeps milk in the process and make sure you have a recipe that you trust. Also, make sure your milk is either pasteurized or that you have absolute confidence in the source and milk you use. Also, sheeps milk makes much more cheese than cows milk, so make sure you are using a sheeps milk recipe to produce your cheese.
Q: Can I make more yogurt with the culture in my existing yogurt?
A: Yes, you can re-inoculate a fresh batch with another batch that is only a week or so old. Keep in mind that the culture balance will change over time and become more acidic. It is recommended that you re-culture only a couple times before using a new packet.
Q: How many cheeses can I coat with the 1 lb wax bar?
A: You should be able to wax 3 lbs of cheese with the 1 lb of wax.
Q: How do I clean the waxing brush?
A: While the wax is hot, use a rag or paper towel to wipe the wax from the brush.
Q: How long can I age my cheese?
A: In the refrigerator if it is unwaxed, it should be a couple weeks. If it’s sealed in wax it can age for a long time and should have a long shelf life. You don’t have to keep it refrigerated if it is sealed in wax, but the temperature should be around 55 F and the moisture should be 85%.
Q: Can I make feta cheese with the Goat Cheese Making Kit?
A: Unfortunately the answer is no. You need a feta specific culture to make feta cheese.