Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients to turn one gallon of milk into one pound of cheese

  • 1 gallon fresh milk (the fresher the milk, the more predictable the cheese)
  • 2-3 tsp. active cultured buttermilk (1/2 cup plain yogurt will also work, yogurt must contain live and active culture)
  • 1/2 tablet Junket® Rennet Tablet (1/4 tablet will work, but takes a bit longer to coagulate)
  • salt

EQUIPMENT

  • 5 quart pot with lid. Heavy stainless is the best, but a light enameled pot can be used if you stir continuously during heating, or heat over boiling water. (Avoid aluminum which can dissolve in the acid.)
  • Wooden spoon to stir whey while heating (a long handled spatula works too)
  • Thermometer (32-220 °F or 0-110 °C) to monitor temperature of whey
  • Receiving container to catch draining whey (a clean plastic bucket will do)
  • 1 quart bowl to receive dipped curds
  • A fine meshed strainer to dip out floating curd
  • Large strainer to suspend over receiving pot
  • Fine weave cloth a boiled handkerchief or a non-terry cloth dish towel to drain ricotta

INGREDIENTS: Whey left from turning a gallon of milk into cheese. This will make about 6-8 ounces of ricotta (almost a cup)

1. Place the whey left over from making basic cheese in a non-reactive pot. Cover and let sit overnight (12 to 24 hours) at room temperature to develop sufficient acidity.

2. The next day, heat the acidified whey over a moderate fire with stirring (do not let it stick or burn) until its temperature is near boiling (220°F or 95°C). Do not let boil over.

3. Remove from heat. Cover and allow the “cooked” whey to cool undisturbed until it is comfortable to the touch (several hours)

4. DO NO STIR UP THE CURD. Gently scoop out most of the fine, delicate curds with the fine strainer and place in a bowl.

5. Set up a receiving container with a large strainer lined with a fine clean cloth. Pour the remaining whey through the cloth (it filters slowly). After most of the whey has drained through, add the curds and let continue to drain.

6. Allow the whey to drain out for 1-2 hours. Then pick up the corners of the cloth, suspend like a bag over a sink to allow the last of the whey to drain out of the ricotta. This will take several hours. It can be done in the refrigerator overnight.

7. Remove the drained ricotta from the cloth, pack into a container, cover and store in the refrigerator. Use it soon after making. Alternatively, ricotta will freeze very well.

Rennet Cheese

1 quart hot tap water
1 cup buttermilk
2 Junket® Rennet tablets dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
2 cups. dry milk powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (optional)
Blend all ingredients and place in a heavy saucepan coated with a nonstick spray. Let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. Cut or stir to break into curds and cook over medium heat for five minutes. Pour curds into a strainer, rinse with hot, then cold water, and drain. Salt to taste, then refrigerate. Or, place in a cheesecloth bag and press. This is a very mild cheese, good with salt and chopped chives. Use within 3-4 days. To make cream cheese from this recipe, reduce rennet to 1/4 tablet and add 1 cup buttermilk when mixing ingredients. Set in a warm place overnight. After setting, cut curds into cubes, place curds over medium heat, and cook five minutes. Pour into a cheesecloth-lined colander and let rest 15 minutes. Gather edges of bag, secure with a rubber band and hang, or press until firm like cream cheese. Add salt if desired.

Neufchatel Cheese

This soft, spreadable cheese originated in France and is eaten fresh. Sometimes called “farmer’s” cheese, think of it as a low fat cream cheese, which can eaten on crackers plain or mixed with seasonings, used in cheese cake, folded into omelets, etc.

Equipment:
5-quart stainless steel pot with lid, sterilized by boiling a small amount of water for 5 minutes covered
Whisk, used to mix ingredients (try not to create foam)
Thermometer, should read in the range of 32° to 220° F (0° to 110° C)
Quart strainer
Sterile handkerchief, sterilized by boiling and hanging to dry
Receiving container, to catch draining whey – a one gallon bowl or clean plastic bucket will do.

Ingredients:
1 gallon milk
1/4 cup culture buttermilk (fresh)
1/4 tablet Junket® Rennet tablet

1. Pour milk into the pre-sterilized 5-quart stainless steel pot. Warm to 65° F with stirring.
2. Meanwhile, dissolve 1/4 tablet Junket® Rennet in 1/4 cup water.
3. When the milk reaches 65° F, remove from heat, add buttermilk, whisk to mix thoroughly.
4. Stir the dissolved rennet into the 65° F inoculated milk, blend thoroughly.
5. Cover and let sit overnight undisturbed at room temperature (65° to 70° F, 20° C).
6. The next morning, a clean break should have formed (see recipe for basic cheese for the test). If the coagulated milk is not firm enough, let it sit until is does, as long as another 12 hours.
7. When a clean break is achieved, cut the curd into 1/2-inch cubes (see recipe for basic cheese for technique). Some recipes call for stirring the soft curd with a whisk. This will work, but will make the separation of curds and whey more difficult.
8. Ladle the curds and whey into a clean sterile handkerchief supported in a large strainer, placed over a one gallon bowl. Allow the whey to drain through. If the cloth becomes clogged, lift the cloth back and forth or scrape the curd away from the cloth. Save the whey for ricotta if you wish (see recipe).
9. When most of the whey has drained through, pick up the four corners of the cloth and suspend the curd in a cool place to drain overnight (from a shelf of the refrigerator if you have room).
10. The next day, remove the cheese and mix in 1- 3 teaspoons of salt, according to taste. It may be eaten immediately. Store covered in the refrigerator until use.
11. You may pack the cheese into a mold of your choice (a squat tin can with the ends removed for instance).

by Dr. David Fankhauser

Feta Cheese

Feta is traditionally made in Greece from ewe’s milk, but a good facsimile can be made with cow’s milk, etc. It is a fresh, snow-white cheese which is pickled in brine and therefore is a salty cheese. It is fabulous with Kalamata olives and pita bread, as well as in a Greek salad.

Equipment:
1) 5-quart stainless steel pot with lid sterilized by placing a small amount of water in it, covering, and boiling for 5 minutes
2) Thermometer – should read in the range of 32° to 220° F (0° to 110° C)
3) Long-bladed knife to cut the curd
4) Quart strainer to support the draining cloth (handkerchief)
5) 2 sterile handkerchiefs (draining cloth), sterilized by boiling and hanging to dry
6) Receiving container to catch draining whey – a one gallon bowl or clean plastic bucket will do.
7) Cheese mold and weight – cut the ends out of a smooth-sided 4 x 5 inch tin can, save one of the cut ends for the press

Ingredients:
1 gallon milk – whole milk for a richer flavor or skim milk for low calorie cheese
1 Tblsp fresh active plain yogurt to use as an inoculum (yogurt must contain live and active cultures)
1/2 tablet Junket® Rennet to coagulate the milk
5 Tblsp table salt to prepare the pickling brine

Directions:
1. Warm the milk in the sterilized pot to 86° F (30° C). Do not let it burn on the bottom. Remove from heat.
2. Mix yogurt with an equal part milk to blend, then stir into the warmed milk to mix thoroughly.
3. Cover and let inoculated milk sit for one hour at room temperature. Meanwhile, dissolve 1/2 Junket® Rennet tablet in 1/4 cup of cool water.
4. After the inoculated milk has set for one hour, stir in the dissolved Rennet to mix well.
5. Cover and let the inoculated, renneted milk sit overnight at room temperature.
6. The next morning, the milk should have gelled to produce a clean break (as in the basic cheese recipe). Some of the whey will have separated. Cut curd as per basic cheese (see recipe). The curds should be about 1/2 inch in diameter.
7. With very clean hand and arm, reach to the bottom of the pot and gently lift the curds to stir. Cut large pieces which appear with a table knife so that they are 1/2 inch pieces. Continue gentle stirring for 10-15 minutes until curd is somewhat contracted.
8. Decant off the whey through the handkerchief supported by the strainer, then pour curds into handkerchief. Let the curds drain until no more whey drains out (about 2-4 hours). The whey may be saved for ricotta (see recipe).
9. Transfer the drained curds into a bowl, break into small pieces and mix in 1/2 tsp salt.
10. Prepare the cheese mold by lining the tin can (with ends cut out) with a handkerchief. Place the curds into mold, fold over ends of the cloth, place one of the cut ends on top, and place a heavy weight on top to press the curds. Let sit overnight to drain.
11. Prepare pickling brine (12.5% salt): 20 oz of water plus 5 Tblsp salt. Stir to dissolve.
12. Remove the cheese from the press and cut into 1.5-inch pieces. Place into a wide-mouth quart jar. Pour brine over to cover. Let pickle for 1-2 days in the refrigerator. The cheese pieces may then be removed from the brine and stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Rinse before use to remove excess salt.

by Dr. David Fankhauser

Basic Hard Cheese

One gallon of milk yields about one pound of cheddar-style cheese. You may use skim or whole milk for this cheese, but whole milk makes a richer cheese. This cheese has no added color.

Ingredients to turn one gallon of milk into one pound of cheese

  • 1 gallon fresh milk (the fresher the milk, the more predictable the cheese)
  • 2-3 teaspoons active cultured buttermilk (1/2 cup plain yogurt will also work – yogurt must contain live and active culture)
  • 1/2 tablet rennet (1/4 tablet will work, but takes a bit longer to coagulate, see step 5)
  • salt

Required Apparatus
Thermometer, reading range 0° to 225° F (-10° to 110° C)
Whisk or other effective stirring and mixing device
Sterilized stainless steel 4-6 quart pot with lid (a thick metal bottom prevents burning)
Long-bladed knife (9-10 inches long)
8″ strainer
Large handkerchief, sterilized by boiling and drying
Cheese pressing frame (4″ diameter, 5″ tall can, about 20 oz, ends removed, save one end for a follower)

1. INOCULATE THE MILK: The evening before you plan to make cheese, warm 1 gallon of fresh milk to 68° F (20° C) in the sterilized pot. Thoroughly blend in 1/4 cup buttermilk to inoculate. Cover inoculated milk with the sterilized lid.
2. INCUBATE OVER NIGHT: Let sit out at room temperature overnight.
3. WARM THE MILK: The next morning, gently warm the milk up to 86° F (30° C). Meanwhile, dissolve 1/2 tablet of Junket® Rennet in 1/4 cup cold water.
4. ADD THE RENNET: Stir the dissolved Rennet into the 86° F milk to mix thoroughly. Cover, let sit undisturbed for an hour or more in a warm place in the room. Be patient. Do not disturb the milk until it has coagulated.
5. ACHIEVE A CLEAN BREAK: Test for a “clean break” (completed action of rennet): Probe a clean finger into the milk and lift. If it has gelled enough to break cleanly as the finger is lifted, go to next step. If the milk is liquid or semi-gelatinous and softly flows across your finger, let sit until a clean break is obtained. It may take as long as 1-2 hours more. Be patient, do NOT disturb the milk.
6.CUT THE CURD: Once a clean break is achieved, cut the curd with a long knife: begin at one edge of the pot and cut straight to bottom. Cut repeatedly parallel to first cut, but increasing the angle of the knife until reaching 45 degrees at the other side of pot. Rotate the pot a quarter of a turn, cut as before. Repeat the rotating and cutting two more times, yielding 1/2 inch cubes of curd.
7. SET THE CURD: Place the pot over a low fire, stir curd with cleaned bare hand by reaching down to bottom, gently lifting and stirring. Cut larger curds as they appear. Do not mash or squeeze. Continue stirring for 15 minutes to prevent the curds from clumping together or overheating at the bottom. Warm the curds to 92° F (34° C) for softer curd cheese, or as high as 102° F (39° C) for very firm cheese.
8. SEPARATE CURDS AND WHEY: Stir and maintain 92° F until curd has contracted to consistency of firm scrambled eggs. Remove from stove and let sit for 10 minutes. The curds should sink in whey. Pour off the whey through a strainer and save for ricotta if you wish. Place the curds in a large bowl.
9. ADD SALT: Sprinkle two teaspoons salt over curds, working with hands to mix in. Pour off any additional whey.
10. PRESS THE CHEESE: Line a smooth-sided 4″ x 5″ tin can from which both ends have been removed with a sterile large white handkerchief. Place the still-warm curds into the cloth, press into the can. Fold the corners of the cloth over top of the curds and cover with the cut-out end of the can. Place a heavy weight on top to press down the curds. Let sit at room temperature for 12 hours or so.
11. CURE THE CHEESE: The next morning, remove and unwrap the cheese from the press. Rub the outside with salt, re-wrap with a fresh handkerchief and place on a rack in the refrigerator. Replace “bandage” when it becomes wet (daily at first). When a dry yellowish rind forms (about one to two weeks in the refrigerator), dip in melted wax, store in refrigerator for about a month (if you can wait that long). The longer you wait, the sharper the cheese.
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Avoid aluminum pots because the acid will dissolve the aluminum.
Sterilize the pot just before use by pouring 1/2 inch of water in the bottom, covering, and bring to a rolling boil for at least five minutes. Pour out the water, replace sterile lid, keep sterilized pot covered until you are ready to add the milk.

 

by Dr. David Fankhauser

Cottage Cheese

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 Junket® Rennet Tablet
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 gallon skim milk
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cream

Directions:

1. Dissolve Junket® Rennet Tablet in water by crushing. Set aside. In a large saucepan, heat skim milk to 70º F. Stir in buttermilk and Rennet Tablet solution, mixing well. Cover with towel and let stand at room temperature 12 to 18 hours until firm curd forms. To test for a firm curd, remove a milk sample at a point near the edge of the saucepan with a spoon. The curd is ready to cut when the coagulated milk sample holds its shape and the edges are sharply defined.

2. Cut curd into 1/2-inch long pieces using a long knife. Heat curd slowly over hot water until temperature reaches 110º F. Hold curd at that temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring at 5-minute intervals to heat curd uniformly. Pour mixture onto the fine cheesecloth in a colander and drain off whey.

3. After whey has drained 2 to 3 minutes, lift curd in cheesecloth and immerse in pan of cold water 1 to 2 minutes, stirring and pressing with a spoon. Then immerse in ice water 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the curd until it is free from whey and place in a large bowl. Add salt and cream and mix thoroughly. Chill.

Please note: The use of any type of Lactaid milk with Junket Rennet Tablets will cause the custard to not set.

Homemade Cheese

General Instructions for Homemade Cheese
Buy whole, pasteurized milk from a creamery for the best possible cheese.

1. Heat the milk in a stainless steel saucepan and, stirring often, warm it to the required temperature (each recipe varies slightly).

2. Still stirring, add the rennet (or citric acid), as for ricotta. Cover; let curds form without stirring, keeping the temperature steady.

3. Using a rubber spatula, break up the curd. This will allow the whey to separate from the curd. A resting period usually follows this step.

4. Place a sturdy cheesecloth over a bowl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the curd to a cheesecloth.

5. Grab the cheesecloth and pull it tight, allowing the whey to drain off into the bowl underneath.

6. Transfer the curd to perforated baskets over a plate with a slotted spoon. The baskets should be perforated in order to facilitate the draining of the whey.

7. Refrigerate the curd; it will set into cheese. Allow it to set for the number of hours specified in the recipe.

8. Turn the cheese out of the basket and press the basket on top of the cheese to create an imprint, or weigh it down with a small can or weight if required.
9. Some cheese is rubbed with salt or immersed in brine before being eaten. Refrigerate the cheese and serve within 3 to 5 days, depending on the recipe.

American Mozzarella

“American mozzarella” is the cheese commonly used on American pizza. It is made using citric acid for acidification instead of bacterial fermentation as in other cheeses. It is very elastic, melts well and strings when hot.

Equipment

  • 5-quart covered stainless pot with heavy bottom
  • 1 cup pyrex measuring cup
  • 2 cup pyrex measuring cup
  • Thermometer
  • Long-bladed knife
  • Sterile handkerchief or non-terrycloth dish towel
  • 8-inch strainer
  • Receiving container to catch draining whey
  • 1000 watt microwave oven

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablet Junket® Rennet Tablet
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 gallon milk (whole milk for a richer flavor or skim milk for low calorie cheese)

Instructions:

  1. Warm milk over gentle heat 88º F (31ºC), take care not to scorch.
  2. Dissolve 1-1/4 tsp. citric acid powder in 1/2 cup cool water. Add to 88º F milk, stir well.
  3. Dissolve 1/2 tablet Junket® Rennet into 1/4 cup cool water. Stir thoroughly into warmed milk mixture. Let set undisturbed for 1-2 hours, until a clean break is achieved.
  4. Cut curd into 1/2 inch cubes.
  5. Warm the curds and whey over low heat, stirring gently to warm evenly and keep the curds separated until temperature reaches 42º C (108ºF). Hold at 42º C for 35 minutes, stirring every five minutes to keep curds separated and off the bottom.
  6. Collect curds by pouring curds and whey through a fine cloth held in an 8-inch sieve over a 1 gallon container, let drain for 15 minutes. Save whey to make ricotta if you wish (see recipe).
  7. Break up curd, mix in 1 teaspoon salt thoroughly.
  8. Place 1 cup of salted curd into 2-cup measure.
  9. Microwave on high for 45 seconds
  10. Separate hot curd from container with the back of a fork, knead with hands to distribute heat evenly. Heat again for 20 more seconds. Stretch and fold to make smooth and elastic, shape into a soft ball.
  11. Drop into cold, salted water (1/3 cup salt per quart), let sit in refrigerator for a day, store in an airtight container. Use within a week or so.