Tag Archives: Cheesemaking

Cheese Part 2

For many the idea of making cheese is a bit intimidating.  We don’t really know where the stuff comes from other than it starts with milk.  And with a whole lot of cheese requiring equipment we don’t have, like that perfect cave in France, we’re left thinking we either can’t make cheese or just don’t know where to start.  Want to know where to start?  This post is for you.

In the past I’ve always told people to start with mascarpone when learning to make cheese.  A simple cheese with easy ingredients and no waiting.  After all, who wants to wait to see if your cheese turned out when you first start making cheese? Plus homemade mascarpone is much cheaper than store-bought and it makes the best tiramisu you’ve ever had ever so it’s a double win.  That said, when it comes to what cheese to start with I’m changing my tune.  Yes there’s something out there even easier with ingredients you can find at any grocery so get yourself ready because we’re making paneer!

“But wait”, you say, “what will I do with this cheese?  Isn’t Indian food super hard to make and doesn’t it take all day?  I don’t have time for that!”  That’s what I thought too.  Ages ago a roommate slaved over the stove for hours to make what turned out to be absolutely awful Indian food.  From that point forward I figured I’d just need to go out to eat to get the good stuff.  But not anymore.

So folks, here’s a recipe for easy cheese requiring things you can find easily in most any town, making paneer (expensive in the store) the new winner for beginning cheese.

What you’ll need:

1 gallon whole milk

lemon juice

good quality cheese cloth (This has smaller holes than the stuff you find at most groceries.  You can find this at a restaurant supply store, better kitchen store and often at your local fabric store)

That’s it other than the pots and pans and sink and stove you hopefully already have.


Heat the milk to just under boiling.  If it boils a bit that’s OK (as long as it hasn’t boiled to the point of smelling bad… no way to make it better once it gets to that point).  For those with a thermometer we’re looking at just over 200 degrees F.

Add your lemon juice, starting with about 2 T.  Stir for a while and keep adding lemon juice (slowly!) until you have a nice clear yellow whey.  Remember to add a bit, stir and then keep stirring before you add more.  Also make sure to check that your temp is still right around boiling or no amount of lemon juice in the world will give you that clear yellow whey!

Once your whey is clear and you have nice fluffy curds put your cheesecloth over a colander and wet it down so it sticks.  Pour the curds and whey into your colander and drain.  From here you can hang to drain or place a plate on top of your curds with something to weigh it down (a heavy can of something will work as will anything else you have handy).  You don’t need to do the weight part but it will make for a slightly firmer curd.  Drain overnight and then place into your fridge or use immediately.

And what will you make?  Why Paneer Butter Masala of course.  This recipe is easily as good as the dish at my favorite local Indian restaurant so do give it a go.  Of course the ingredients for this aren’t quite as easy to find though I will say if you have an Indian store or a Halal store nearby they should have most of this stuff and likely a LOT cheaper than you’d get it at the local grocery or food co-op.

Amazing Paneer Butter Masala Recipe (and great blog for all sorts of other Indian food recipes!)

Well there it is folks, the easiest cheese outside of Chevre and something you can make with the stuff you find locally.  I know you’ll love how easy it is to make this cheese and my guess is you’ll love this butter paneer recipe too.  Let me know!




Many of you may be at this site due to the cheesemaking classes I’ve been teaching lately.  While hopefully you’ve kept your handout I’m going to be posting a bunch of information here about cheesemaking so you have some resources (AND RECIPES!) handy.

As we talked about in most of my classes, mozzarella is often sold to beginning cheese makers as a good “starter” cheese but as we talked about, it won’t stretch if the acidity isn’t correct.  Since very few folks will tell you that you’re often left thinking you’ve failed miserably when your mozzarella didn’t stretch when really, it had nothing to do with you.  Well this recipe is something that seems to work a bit more consistently than most.  To find out where I got this recipe and more information about the best and cheapest vacation you can have in Washington make sure you read below.



2 gallons cold milk
3 teaspoons citric acid (this may vary with the milk taking more or less)
Liquid Rennet
Mesophilic starter packet (optional)

  1. dissolve citric acid in warm water and stir into cold milk
  2. Bring milk temp up to 90 degrees
  3. You may add lactic culture to develop flavor (1 packet of Mesophilic starter culture)
  4. stir in 1 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1 cup of water
  5. Let set for 1/2 hour then cut into small cubes
  6. stir gently slowly raising temperature to 95
  7. When curds settle to bottom of vat drain off the whey and cover curds with 145 degree water
  8. Stretch curds, form curds into balls and drop in cold water
If you give this recipe a go let me know how it worked for you by posting in the comments below.
OK, so more about where this recipe came from and amazing vacations right?
This recipe is from Lora Lea Misterly of Quillisascut Farm over in Rice Washington.  Not only do they make amazing cheese there but they’ve opened an educational program (some years ago now) and while “school” doesn’t often seem like a vacation this was quite honestly one of the best, most rejuvenating things I’ve ever done.  There are a ton of classes now, all posted here but any of them will be one of the best experiences of your life.  Not only will you learn but you’ll be treated to the most local food you’ve likely ever eaten as most everything that can be is grown on the farm (even the walnuts even though they’re not supposed to grow well in Rice!).  I’m not sure which classes include cheesemaking but just ask and I’m sure they’ll let you know.  It might be that $700 seems like a lot to you but you must realize that you’ll be on a beautiful farm, eating the best food you could eat for three meals a day and learning as well, all for almost a week.  It’s more than worth it folks.