The kit includes a little recipe book, rennet, mesophilic culture, thermophilic culture, calcium chloride, thermometer, cheesecloth, and a little mold. It has everything I need, just not in the proportions and sturdiness I desire.
Monday I made my first hard cheese- Farmhouse Cheddar, followed by some Whey Ricotta.
I found it interesting that the cheddar curds were very bland tasting, while the ricotta had a cheesier taste right away.
There was almost as much whey produced (7.2L) as there was milk to begin with(7.6L). It's fascinating how milk can produce so much butter or cheese, and still leave so much of itself behind.
What to do with the whey? I've been reading that some people bake with it. Lacto-fermentation, of course, but it's not exactly harvest season here. What would I ferment? Use it to water tomatoes? Or feed it to the dogs and chickens?
Honestly, the chickens will probably get most of this batch. I have butter to make today, so baking is pretty well covered by buttermilk. I might experiment with one tomato plant, but I don't want the whole lot of them to start growing fungus or mold.
Feeding milk (or whey, or buttermilk) to the chickens cuts down on my feed bill. I was feeding the chickens a mixture of corn and duck feed. The duck feed is made from high protein vegetation, no medications. Along with their daily sprouts, it seems to keep them healthy and happy. Since I've been adding milk to their water dish their feed dish doesn't seem to need refilling as often. Egg production remains at the same level. Everyone seems happy, including Mrs. Goose, who has started laying eggs. I'll continue giving the chickens any milk that gets stepped in, and whatever else I need to use up.
Next time- mozzarella? No, probably more cheddar. It needs to age at least two months before we can even try it, 6 months would be better. I'm not making big plans for cheese storage the way I am with butter. Yes, we use a lot of cheese, but it doesn't make sense to make a lot of cheese that we may not like. Still, only making a little and having it turn out really well would be pretty much heartbreaking when it's gone.
I have recipes for parmesan, colby, gouda, monterey jack, and a few others. I think, I'll try a couple of each, then search the web for variations and different recipes. Hopefully we'll find something we really like and be ready to make a lot of cheese in 2014!