Cheesemakers Always Get Their Whey...

When you have more milk than you know what to do with, you have to take drastic measures. I had been making ricotta and soft type cheeses for several years, but then I started making other sorts of cheeses. I have made a pressed farmers cheese, cheddar, parmesan and cottage cheese. I made yogurt which can be used in place of sour cream. I also made yogurt cheese which can be used in place of cream cheese. I will be trying others as time goes on.

You can click on the links below to go directly to that recipe.


Goat Milk Ricotta

Cottage Cheese

Neufchatel Cheese

Mozzarella Cheese

Cheddar Cheese

Feta Cheese

 Ricotta or Soft Type Cheese

It is very easy to make the soft cheese, especially ricotta type cheeses at home with little to no equipment. Plus, you can use any type of milk...even store bought!! The way to make real ricotta is to use the whey from other cheeses you have made. I have done this, but I actually have more success doing it another whey (couldn't resist).

You can use either one or two gallons of milk. I have made mine with 5 gallons before if I have milk to deal with. I put it in a stainless steel pan. Don't use aluminum. When you take milk and add acid, you get a clabbered milk. It separates into curds and whey. The curds are the protein and the fat. The whey is the water, minerals (including calcium) and lactose which is milk sugar. The temperature of the milk helps to determine the toughness of the cheese. Because heat toughens protein. At about 165 degrees you will have a soft curd sort of like cottage cheese. At about 205 degrees it will more closely resemble the eraser on a pencil. I used to heat the milk up to about 165 or 170 degrees. However, I am trying to not kill all the enzymes and try to keep it as raw as I can. I now heat the milk up to about 138 degrees. Then I add the acid part. You can add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. I normally use raw apple cider vinegar. If I use 2 gallons of milk, I would start out with about 1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar. Stir this into the milk. Keep stirring. You will notice curds starting to form. Just keep stirring. I usually have had to add more vinegar when I make this. I add a bit and then stir. Really take the time to stir in between the adding of the vinegar. Sometimes it just takes a few minutes to go through the milk. You want to use as little of the acid part as you need to, so that it does not strongly flavor the cheese. I keep doing this until there is a definite separation of the curds and the whey.

They whey will be a clear yellowish or greenish liquid with the white curds floating in it or even sunk down to the bottom. You can line a colander with cheese cloth if you like. I have just been using the stainless steel colander. Drain off the whey. You can save the whey for several things. You can feed it to your animals since it is has all those wonderful minerals. Some people make a whey lemonade with it, since it is so good for you. You can water plants with it or put it in your compost. I hear it is aslo good for your septic system. :) If you use cheese cloth you can do the following. After the curds have drained a bit, take the four corners of your cheese cloth and tie them in a knot. Then hang your cheese up to drain over a bowl. I keep a small piece of wire that I wrap around the knot and the put through the handles of my cabinets. Many of the cheeses I make need to hang to drain. If you go to the link at the bottom for The Cheesemaker, he sells a wonderful bag that you can drain your soft cheeses in and it is very easy to use and to clean. Since I just use the colander, I keep turning the cheese to let the top portion drain. I have a bowl on the counter below to catch the whey when I hang the cheese or I just sit my colander in it. Once it is drained, there are several things you can do with this cheese.

I always add a bit of salt no matter how I use it. At this point you can use it as ricotta just like it is. Or you can add Italian herbs and spices and use it that way. When it is Italian flavored it makes a good cheese spread. I put some of the curds, salt, garlic and the Italian herbs in the food processor. I add in a bit of milk to make it creamier. It is wonderful spread on crackers, used in a baked Italian dish like lasagna or even putting pieces of it on a salad. Last year I tried something new. I put the curds, salt, onion, garlic and jalapenos in the food processor. It is WONDERFUL and a real hit to everyone who has tried it. It is not really hot, but you get a wonderful flavor. The crackers and cheese disappear when we have it setting out. Another thing you can do is to put the curds, salt, and some sort of sweetener like honey or agave nectar (you could use sugar) in the food processor. It makes a wonderful sweet cheese that can be spread on toast or crackers. It is good on crackers with a small piece of fruit on top. You can also take a loaf's worth of bread dough and roll it out. Put a line of cheese down the middle long ways. Then add your favorite fruit or jam. Cut down the sides at an angle and bring them up and over the fillings. Bake and you have a danish!!! This cheese is very versatile and really helps use up the milk. I often freeze the different kinds of cheese to have them on hand when I need them.

 Goat Milk Ricotta

In a stainless steel pot heat one gallon of whole or low fat goats milk to 180 degrees. When the milk reaches that temperature add 1 quart of cultured buttermilk. Turn off your heat. Stir gently a few times and you will start to see the curds forming. When the whey becomes clear yellowish or greenish, then drain the curds into a colander lined with cheese cloth. Allow it to drain for about one hour. Put the cheese in a bowl (you may add a dash of salt if you want) and refridgerate. You can use this in any recipe that calls for ricotta. It is a very delicate cheese though and must be used quickly. It makes about 4 cups.

Other uses for the goatmilk ricotta

Olive Goat Cheese Spread
You can also take this cheese and add some garlic to taste, some cheddar cheese (up to 2/3 cup)and some fresh herbs (I love basil and thyme, but use what you like). Then mix the above cheese with the other ingredients in a food processor or with a mixer. Then chop some olives (either black or green) and stir them in. This is a delicious dip, or a cracker spread.

Fiesta Dip for Mexican Night
Take about 8 ozs. of fresh made salsa or you can use salsa in a jar. Drain it well. In a food processor or with a mixer blend 12 ozs. of the goat ricotta with 1 cup of very sharp cheddar cheese. Stir in the salsa and several fresh sprigs of cilantro. Put it in the refridgerator and chill well. Then serve it as a dip for tortilla chips or put it on your tacos or in your burritos. Yummy!!

You can also use the first ricotta recipe above for these 2 recipes.

 Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese turned out to be the easiest thing I have made. It even looks like store bought, although it is better. I take 2 gallons of milk and put them in a large stainless steel pot with a lid. I put it on the coolest part of my wood cookstove. The ideal is to keep it at about 70 degrees. In the summer I put it on the counter. I leave it there for 2 days. By this time the milk has separated and the curds are floating on top. I get a slotted spoon and lift out the curds. I usually put them in a colander in the sink. Then I put them back in the empty pot. Heat them to about 100 degrees and keep it there for a couple of hours. Then line your colander with cheese cloth and drain. Again, tie the four corners of your cheese cloth together and hang up to continue draining. Once they are drained, I break them into the size curds we like and then add some milk into them to make them creamier. You can also add some cream if you like. Then I add a bit of salt. We have found that they are not very good without the salt. It just seems to bring out the flavor you are looking for. This will keep refridgerated about a week. Mine only lasts this long because we use non-pasteurized milk. We usually serve a small bowl with a meal with some fruit on top of it. We also found it is really good as another item to put on your tacos.

 Neufchatel Cheese

Take one gallon of whole milk and add 1 pint of heavy cream. Mix it well. Warm the milk indirectly (double boiler, etc) to 72 degrees. Add 4 ounces of mesophilic cheese starter culture. Add 1 tsp. of a diluted rennet mixture. (Dilution: 3 drops of liquid rennet in 1/3 cup cool water) The exact amount of rennet is important. Too little rennet and the cheese will drain through the cheesecloth. Too much rennet will give the cheese a hard, rubbery texture. Let the milk set covered at 72 degrees for 12 to 18 hours or until a thick curd has formed.

Pour the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander and hang to drain for 6 to 12 hours or until the bag has stopped dripping.

Place the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander and place the colander in a pot. Place a plate in the colander, resting on the bag of curds. Place a weight on the plate (the weight of two bricks is sufficientor use a gallon jar of water). Put the cover on the pot and refrigerate for 13 hours.

Take the cheese from the pot and place in a bowl. Knead and mold the cheese by hand into four cheeses. You can salt to taste and add a variety of condiments if desired such as chopped chives, chopped garlic cloves, chopped onions or scallions, or cut up pineapple, olives or pickles. Shape the cheeses and cover each with Saran Wrap or wax paper and store in your refridgerator.

 Mozzarella Cheese

Add 1/2 tsp. of powdered citric acid to 1/4 cup cool water. Stir this into 2 gallons of cold milk. Warm the milk to 88 degrees.

Dissolve 1/2 tsp. liquid rennet in 1/4 cup cool water. Stir the rennet into the milk very gently for 15 seconds. This make sure that it is evenly distributed. Cover and allow the milk to set for 15 min. until milk coagulates.

Cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes. I do this by taking my longest knife and cutting stripes every half of inch all the way to the bottom. Then I turn the pot and do the same thing the other way. Then I have a very large flat sort of ladle. I use it to cut the layers from side to side. Often times I will gently lift the pieces and cut any that are too large. Then allow the curds to rest for 5 mins.

Raise the temperature to 108 degrees. Do it slowly over a 15 min. period. Gently stir through out this heating time. Continue to stir for an additional 20 mins. while maintaining a temperature of 108 degrees. During this heating stage the curds will shrink in size as they expel whey. It is important to constantly stir the curds gently so that they do not mat together at the bottom of the pot. Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander and allow to drain for 15 min. You may want to do this over a pot and capture your whey. (You can make true ricotta from the whey)

Place the mass of curd on a cutting board and cut into 1" cubes.

Heat 1 gallon of water to 170 degrees and dissolve 1/2 cup of salt in the water. Place the curd cubes in a large bowl and pour the hot water over them. Using a wooden spoon, mix the curds together. they should stretch and mold together in a large mass of curds. (I use thick rubber gloves for this step. I save them and use only for cheesemaking) It takes about 5 min. for the curd to become stringy. Place the mass of curd on a cutting board and knead together as if you were working with bread. You want to have the curds to become a part of the mass of curd. If the curd starts to cool off, place it back in the water for a bit. Now pull the curd like taffy or like when you pull wool to spin. It will become satiny and smooth. You can add herbs and spices now if you like and work them into it. I don't normally do that. Once the curd has been stretched into a solid mass, this can be shaped into a round ball or string cheese sticks and then placed in cool water for about 15 min. until they hold their shape.

When it is ready, dry with a clean towel and place in an airtight container and store in the fridge.

 Cheddar Cheese

Equipment: Cheese pot with a lid to hold the milk (it is good to make this a dedicated cheese only pot), a larger stock pot or water bath canner, dairy thermometer, mesophilic starter culture, rennet, stainless steel whisk or long knife, cheese ladle, stainless steel colander, french fry mill/cutter,  salt without iodine (you can use a coarse cheese salt, pickling salt, or I use Real Salt).

First of all fill your cheese pot with water.  Put all your utensils that you will use in it and bring to a boil.  This will sanitize all of your equipment and not cause problems with the cheese.  Pour the boiling water into a larger stock pot or water bath canner.  This will be used to heat the cheese and keep the temperature. 

Pour 2 gallons of milk (this recipe can be doubled) into your cheese pot. Set the pot down into the larger stock pot or water bath canner. Place a thermometer down in the milk making sure it is easy to read.  Let it heat up to 86 F. 

Once it reaches the right temperature put in your culture.  Use 1 packet (1 packet works for up to 2 gallons of milk) of mesophilic starter culture.  Sprinkle it over the top of the milk and stir in to the milk with a stainless steel whisk or cheese ladle. Cover and let sit for about 30 mins. to ripen. 

If you are going to use calcium chloride, it would go in next.  I did not use it, but it is good to use if the milk is homogenized or pasteurized.  If you are going to use it, then take 1/2 tsp. and mix it in with about 1/4 cup of cold water.  Pour the water over the surface of the milk and then stir it in. 

Next, we will add our rennet.  You will use the same amount of rennet in cheese as you use calcium chloride.  So, add 1/2 tsp. of liquid rennet to about 1/4 cup of cool water.  After mixing in then pour over the surface of the milk and mix it in. Cover and let the milk sit for 30 to 50 mins.  I leave my thermometer sticking out the side of the lid so I can make sure I keep a constant temperature. 

It is time to test the curd.  The last place to set up will be the center.  I take a thick candy thermometer (you could use something else) and poke it down gently into the center of the curd and then sort of lift up at an angle.  It the curd breaks in a clean straight line it is ready.  Use the large stainless steel whisk to cut the curds.  You can use a long knife, but it is SO much easier with a whisk.  Cut across one way and then cut across the opposite way while turning the whisk a bit to make cubes.  If you use a knife, after you cut both ways across, then you need to use a flat cheese ladle to cut the layers from top to bottom.  Or insert the knife at angles to try and cut them.  The whisk made all the difference in the world for me.  I actually ordered some large 16" ones to put in the store for other to be able to get them.  Once you cut the curds you are going to allow them to rest for 2 to 5 mins.  They will sink down into the whey. 

Leaving the pot of milk in the double boiler set up, turn a low heat on under the pot.  You are going to raise the temperature of the milk from 86 F to 100 F.  You are going to do this very slowly over a 40 to 45 mins. period of time.  You will need to stir the curds gently and often.  I stirred with the whisk.  Once the temperature hits 90 F and above, then the curds will try to mat together.  You will need to be diligent in your stirring from that point on.  Once you reach 100 F turn off the heat and watch that it does not get any hotter.  If it does, remove it from the double boiler and set on the counter.  It is good if you can keep them in the pot though because it helps keep the temperature constant. You are going to let the curds sit for 30 mins. undisturbed. They will sink to the bottom and mat together. 

It is time to test and see if the curds are ready to be drained.  Pull some up from the bottom in the flat cheese ladle.  Take a small handful and gently squeeze.  If they hold together then they are ready.  They should also easily separate back out. 

Drain them into a colander over a bucket or large pan catching the whey. Put about 3 quarts of your whey back in the cheese pot and put the colander over that pot.  Pack the curds down in the colander making a nice slab.  Turn on a VERY low heat under this.  The curds should not be in the whey, but they will be over the nice moist air.  Put a lid over them and let them cheddar (that is what this process is called) for about 45 mins. to an hour.  I turned the slab over pressing down again about every 15 mins.  When you are done, you will have a nice big flat smooth slab of cheese. 

Put the slab on a cutting board and cut into fairly large chunks. There are 2 ways to do this next step.  You can use a knife or you can use a french fry mill/cutter.  Put the curds through the mill or cut into strips about that size.  Put them back into the pan or into a bowl and add 2 1/2 tsp. of salt. Mix it in well with your hands.  At this point, you can eat these as fresh cheese curds (they are really good) or you can press them into a wheel. 

Lay a folded piece of cheese cloth on the bottom of your cheese press and then put the hoop on top of it.  Fill the hoop with the curds.  Place another folded piece of cheesecloth over the top of the curds and then add your follower (wooden round that fits just inside your hoop).  Assemble the rest of your press and apply pressure to the curds.  You do not want to push down as hard as you can at this point.  Push down until the whey starts to come out the bottom.   Depending on your press you will either want to set the press down into a pan to catch the whey or have a bowl to catch it.  Leave it this way for an hour.  Check it periodically to see if you need to apply a bit more pressure. 

After the hour is up, take your cheese out and you will dress it. Take a piece of cheesecloth and wrap the cheese, covering all surfaces.  Place it back into the hoop and add the follower. Now tighten your press to the maximum pressure.  You will leave the cheese in the press for 24 hours. 


 Feta Cheese

Warm 2 gallons of milk to 86.  Put 1/4 tsp. of lipase powder and 1/4 tsp. of mesophilic starter in a small cup.  Add a wee bit of the warmed milk and stir until dissolved.  Then stir into milk. Stir with a top to bottom motion for at least 20 strokes to make sure it is well mixed in.  Then cover and let it sit for 30 mins. 

Then dilute 1/2 tsp. of rennet in a quarter cup of cool water.  Add this to the milk and again stir at least 20 times with the top to bottom motion.  Let it sit, covered for 30 mins. until the curds solidify.  Cut the curds into 1/2" cubes. 

Use your ladle to stir the curds very slowly and gently.  If there are masses of curds, then jiggle them gently on your ladle to break apart.  Continually stir slowly and gently for about 25 to 30 mins.  Make sure the milk stays at the 86 throughout this time.  The curds will shrink until they are approximately 1/2 the size they started at.  They will resemble the size of cottage cheese. 

Drain the curds into small feta cheese basket molds.  It should fill 2 of them.  Find a large pan with a lid or a bucket with a lid to let them drain in.  Put one mold on top of the other mold.  The weight of the top one will press the bottom one.  I switched them every 15 mins. about 5 times.  When you go to switch them, turn them over in their mold as well.  This helps to keep them even.  I put a small rack in the bottom of my pan to keep the cheese from sitting in the whey.  You can also use a canning jar ring.  Put the sides of the molds up against the side of the pan or bucket to keep the cheeses even.   Keep the lid on while they are draining to keep moisture in the air around them.   Let them drain for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature. 

Make a brine solution.  Put 2/3 cups of a coarse salt into 1 1/2 quarts of boiling water.  Make sure it is mixed in well.  Let cool to room temperature.  The cheese will float in the brine, but make sure it is as far in the brine as possible.  Let it brine for at least a week before eating.  Keep the cheese in the brine in a cool place.  I put mine in an extra fridge. 


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