We've now graduated from fresh and soft cheeses (such as feta and soft goat cheese) to aged and harder varieties. Like cheddar.
Mozzarella is on my list too, but it's best eaten fresh and there is only so much cheese one person can (or should) eat.
The bakery is catering an event for Kentuck in a couple of weeks, and we can make mozzarella then.
In any case, this version of cheddar only needs to age 1-2 months, which is great for my short attention span. Some recipes for hard cheese call for the cheese to age a year or more. Yeah, right.
I used two gallons of milk (one of our suppliers sells non-homogonized whole milk, so I ordered a case (4 gallons). Two gallons went into feta yesterday. The other two are making a reasonably small block of cheddar.
The basic recipe is:
2 gallons whole milk
1/2 tsp. lipase powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
4 drops liquid calcium chloride (CaC12)
4 oz. prepared mesophilic starter
1 tbsp. non-iodinized salt
If you want to make cheese, read up on the process online or in a cheese-making book. I followed these directions.
You need a bunch of specialized products and materials. I bought the starter, rennet and lipase powder at a cheese-making supply store in San Jose (except for the liquid CaC12, which I bought at the pet supply store as it is used in salt-water aquariums).
The only other item that's a little unusual is the mold and cheese press. I cut the bottom off of a square plastic container and placed it on a sushi mat.
The bottom of the container acts as the follower. The tape roll distributes the weight of the bricks evenly. I wrapped the bricks in a dishcloth and put them in a ziplock bag to keep any dirt from the bricks from getting on the cheese.
The recipe says to increase the weight to 40 pounds (I currently have 20). Not sure how I'm going to do that, am looking around the house for something suitably heavy and small.
Starting with two gallons of milk, I'm going to end up with a 6-inch square block, about 3-inches high. It air dries for a couple of days, gets coated with wax, then aged for a month (or so...). Maybe I'll eat it on my birthday at the end of March.
A gallon-and-a half of whey came off this cheese. I've made bread with it, fed it to the dogs with their dry food, watered the plants, and given some away. Am open for suggestions for other uses as I hate to throw it away.
Thinking of trying Monterey Jack cheese next.