Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Making Cheese

I bought this little cheese making kit a while ago.  It's not the kit I wanted, but I couldn't find the one I wanted in Canada.  It was very affordable though, so I guess I shouldn't complain.  It just has more of a 'science experiment' kind of feel to it than a serious 'let's make some cheese' feel.  I guess you could say it's kind of cheesey, lol.

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!


  1. Wendy,
    A science experiment that ends in cheese is good enough for me.I want to learn to make cheese and can meat.

    I read that giving too much milk to chickens was not good in terms of egg production. Maybe not?

    1. Some things I know I'm going to use and reuse over the coming years, regardless of how the first batch or two might turn out- like my wine making equipment. So I know from the beginning that I'm going to spend a little more for some higher quality supplies. Unfortunately with the cheese kit, the higher quality supplies were not available in a kit for beginners. I have found a company in Ontario where I can order better quality supplies, but it's going to be substantially more expensive than the little kit, and I'll probably have to order bits and pieces as I progress and the need arises. I have to say, even though this mold looks and feels flimsy on it's own, it's holding up much better than I expected to the pressing process. It's still smaller than I wanted, but I think for this year, with a multitude of experimental cheeses going on, it's probably an excellent choice.

      My flock would not be a good choice in terms of determining egg production with milk versus other feeds. While egg production is remaining the same- an egg or two a day- they are old girls who haven't recovered from winter yet.

  2. Hi, Wendy. It's nice to see you putting that milk to good use right away!

    I wondered if you notice scours in the chickens when they drink milk products? When I fed mine whey many years ago they did get scours so I stopped giving it. Maybe it was the breed of chicken or the fact that it was goat milk. I don't know. I just wondered what your experience has been if you don't mind sharing.

    1. Definitely no scours with straight raw milk. Everyone seems healthy and content, and a couple of the girls are feathering out quite nicely. They only got about a litre of whey for two days, so that's not much of a test. I will keep an eye on them though to see if that changes.