Saturday, February 6, 2010

Making Soft Cheese

I finally made my own cheese. Its delicious, creamy soft cheese. I didn't really mean to make cheese. What I mean is, it didn't start out to be cheese. I was making buttermilk and left it so long on the counter that it soured. You can read how to make buttermilk in a previous post.

It didn't make good buttermilk. It soured instead. I don't know why. After it had already soured, I threw in another bit of buttermilk and left it another day, but it was already too late. It had clabbered or curdled.

I left it on the counter for another full day until it had separated completely with curds on the top and a clear, greenish liquid, called whey, on the bottom. I only left it that long because I worked that day and was just too busy to deal with it. By the time I finally got around to doing something with it, the curds at the top were fairly solid. This is how cottage cheese is started.

My kitchen helper watched me closely from a chair by his usual perch on the kitchen table. He likes anything to do with dairy products, although we don't give him much of it. He has a sensitive digestive system.

I was reluctant to discard this wonderful stuff. It tasted great and smelled sweet, so I drained it in cheesecloth for a few hours to see what I had. I tied the two ends around a wooden spoon and suspended it over a bowl on the countertop.

Cottage cheese is made with this curd that is heated to 190 and strained. I didn't heat this up because I was just too busy at the moment making cabbage rolls, baking cookies and making lemon squares all at the same time. One more thing would have just been too much for me.

This kind of soft cheese can be made without rennet. Rennet is necessary to make many soft cheeses and any hard cheese.

I left it to drain for a few hours. I should have left it longer but I am just too impatient. Hmmmm... Maybe I am too impatient to be making cheese.

I still had the whey in a jug. Whey is great stuff, full of things that are very good for you. You can even buy powdered whey in health food stores. It can replace any liquid used in baking.

I put it in the freezer. I put some plastic wrap over a couple of tiny muffin pans, filled them and set them in the freezer. When they were hard, I put the frozen whey pieces together in a large freezer bag. I have got to get some ice cube trays!!

At this point Chisel lost interest and decided to take a bath.


Mrs. G said...

Wow, you sure are amazing!
I've never seen the whey go to the bottom like that. I always see it on top!

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Thank you (I'm blushing)

That is odd. I don't know why this would be different. I have never made cheese before, although it is something I am planning to do soon.

I have a large jug of the same soured buttermilk curdling on the counter now but it has not separated yet. Perhaps this time the curds will sink, but that would be just too strange.

Cindy said...

Interesting. I would have probably assumed it was spoiled and tossed it out! Does it taste like cream cheese or yogurt cheese? I've made yogurt cheese by making HM yogurt and straining it in cheesecloth over a bowl in the fridge. That's easy, but it does take time.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

It taste like a cross between cream cheese and sour cream. Sour cream is made with the same culture in cream instead of milk. Its really good. We are eating it on a lot of things. I made a simple turnover yesterday with peach and this cheese for filling. It was delicious!

The Japanese Redneck said...

I would love to make soft cheese/buttermilk, etc. But deathly scared I might kill my hubby or myself trying.

The word bacteria is scarey to me.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Its a good bacteria. You'll know if something is wrong with it.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I have more of this separating on the counter now. I will heat it to 190F before I strain it. That should kill all the bacteria. I may re introduce a bit of buttermilk to it and let it age more for a sharper taste.

I have to get some rennet!