I have been interested in making cheese for a little while now after visiting a farmer’s market in Saint Paul, MN a few years ago. This dairy farmer was selling his cheeses and I was intrigued about making it. Now, a few years later, and I found myself with a few days off and time to spare, so I decided to try my hand at making cheese. I did not want to use rennet (I have not been able to find it locally, and when the urge to make something strikes I generally do not have time to order online…), so I researched rennet free cheese. In farmers cheese, you use lemon juice to cause the milk to curdle.
So you basically take a gallon of whole milk (Skim milk just gives you less curds, and who likes skim milk anyway, except for frothing for lattes) and bring it to 190 degrees (medium heat), stirring to keep from burning.
At this point you pull the pot off of the heat and pour in the juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup), stir this in and leave it alone for 10 minutes. Seriously, just leave it alone! I decided that I wanted to have a bit more taste, so I added fresh rosemary leaves at this point. You pour this into a strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and allow it to strain all of the whey out. After most of the whey has drained off, you can gather the cheese cloth together and squeeze the rest out.
At this point, you are left with just curds, which can be salted and kneaded to mix.
I was concerned about there being too much salt, so held back to just a pinch. However, when I served it, I had to salt it to bring out the flavor. This was really good on crackers. I would not suggest using anything sweet with this, as it does not have enough “tang” to counteract the sweetness, but it complements salty items very nicely!
Do not use “ultra pasteurized” anything. This prevents any curds from forming and you will just have wasted a gallon of milk and a lemon.
When I find non-ultrapasteurized goats milk, I will make something with that! If so, I will keep you updated.