Raw Milk Cheese

I've been dying to make some cheese ever since I took a cheese-making class a few years ago. I've always wanted to make raw milk cheese; it's said to be the best kind of cheese to make from scratch. The problem is that raw milk is not sold in my state and I just never took the time to go somewhere else and get it. But finally I acquired some raw milk this week. Since it isn't easy to come by around here I was very happy when I got 2 gallons of this wonderful stuff.

As for recipes to make cheese, I can't remember where I put the ones I got when I took the class. And I wasn't that ambitious to look through all the files of recipes I've acquired over the years so I thought I would surf the net to find a recipe. I remembered the basic steps in the cheese-making process so I knew what I was looking for.

I found the perfect recipe here. I had all the ingredients and equipment necessary to make the cheese so I got to work on it this afternoon. I even came across a book on cheese-making in my library but the recipes in it were way more complicated than what I learned in the class so I think I will save the book for a time when I have more experience at this.

I followed the recipe I found on the internet however, it says to add whey. I didn't have any because I haven't made any cheese as of yet. Since the whey was listed as optional, I just ignored it. I heated my milk with a low flame and waited for a while to check the temperature. As long as the outside of the kettle didn't feel warm, I figured I had time before testing it.

The thermometer got to 86 degrees and I turned the stove off. I added the 13 drops of rennet and stirred it in. This is where I was unsure what to do next. The kettle has to sit for 45-60 minutes while the curds form, but it's supposed to stay between 80 and 90 degrees while it sits. I was worried that it might cool down too quickly so I turned the oven on in order to keep the stove warmer. After checking the temperature of the milk 3 times in 2o minutes I realized I was worrying for nothing. The kettle is such a nice thickness that it was holding the heat in nicely.

It took over 60 minutes to get a clean break on the milk. The recipe I used had a link to the explanation of what a clean break is, but the link was broken. So I used this YouTube video to learn what a clean break is. I cut the curds into chunks then turned the stove back on to get the temperature back up to 100 degrees. Even at a low heat, it literally took less than 5 minutes to get up to 100.

I placed the curds into a bowl and added the salt. The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of salt which made me nervous. I used one and a half tablespoons of salt. It was not enough. Follow the recipe!

I ended up with a large bowl of whey. And once I strained the curds, there was more whey only this time it was full of salt. I ended up mixing the whey that had the salt in it with the whey that was plain. I'm not sure that's how it was supposed to be done...oh well.

I stuck the whey back into the milk jug and put it in the fridge. I will use it in my next batch of cheese. I took my ball of cheese and pressed it between two plates with a heavy LeCreuset pot on top to weigh it down.  I must say, this stuff does taste good. I can't wait to serve it on Easter Sunday and see what everyone else thinks.

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