This post is Part 1 of the continued basic home cheese making instructions. See the Curd Nerd Beginner page or the Basic Instructions category for previous parts.
All of the cheeses you will read about here will be made with raw milk. Fresh, raw, cows milk to be exact.
Unfortunately I don’t have access to goats milk so recipes that should traditionally be made with goats milk, have been made with cows milk. I know, it’s not true to form but a home cheese maker must work with what they have.
I have free access to all the fresh, raw cows milk I need and for that I am VERY lucky. It makes cheese making even more pleasurable because I don’t have to worry at all about where to get my milk and how much I am paying. If possible I recommend working out an agreement with a local farmer to exchange homemade cheese for milk. Depending on the country you are in, some countries allow you to purchase a certain amount of raw milk from the farm gate so it’s worth checking out the rules where you live.
If you live in the city or suburbs or just don’t want to travel to a local farm then try to buy the best organic milk available. You really will notice it in your cheese.
Use your milk as fresh as possible, and refrigerate it until about an hour before you are ready to start making. Take your milk out of the fridge an hour before and let it come up to room temperature (unless it is stifling hot in your room) before starting.
It is critical to keep your milk as clean from any contaminants as possible so if you are collecting raw milk from a farm use food grade containers and sterilise everything after each use.
Milk will change during the year as cows and goats go through different feeding cycles. Spring often delivers the best milk when new grass is growing and available for feeding. When the milk changes you may also notice changes in your resulting cheeses. It helps to keep notes so that you can learn and understand the effects and be aware of them for the next year.
Store bought milk is also affected but variations m
ay not be as dramatic due to the processing and standardisation of commercial milk.
If using fresh farm milk you may have periods when the herd are not being milked or when calving season comes so be aware of these possible ‘dry’ times.
If you get addicted to this hobby, like I have, vats of fresh milk look like pure gold and get the mind boggling with all the cheese that could be made. Milk takes on a whole other dimension once you start making cheese.
As a beginner, you might also want to read up on Which Milk Is Best For Cheese Making for some extra insight.
And you also will want to have a basic understanding of what Lipase is and how you can use it in your cheese making.
Do you have any questions or comments about Home Cheese Making? Join the discussion over at the Curd Nerd Forum. We would love to hear from you!