Prove Tecniche: Learning To Make Cheese

They say that bakers, cheese makers and chocolatiers are the alchimists of food. I must have a little dissatisfied alchimist inside of me as, of many possible interests in the kitchen, what really gets my attention and makes me feel the sacred fire is baking bread. And I have the feeling that the fire could be fueled also by cheese and chocolate making.

Just like when I started to bake bread and grow my own sourdough – about one year ago (can you believe I never ever baked bread before?) – the first time I just did it. Without much thinking or preparation. And absolutely no special tool. Regarding bread, for instance, one may be surprised that I still do not own a baking stone. And I got my first scoring blade something like 2 months ago.

So, for my initiation to cheese making I did not prepare much. Just ordered some rennet (caglio) online – with an investment of 60 kr (8 dollars) – and used a plastic colander as a drainer and mold. As you can see, some pretty edible fresh cheese was the result of this first clumsy experiment and, if I did it, anyone can do it (scroll down for the method – la versione in italiano e’ in arrivo). 

HOME-MADE FRESH CHEESE

You need: rennet* (I used 2 tea-spoon of my Swedish one), 3 liters (0.8 gallon) whole-fat milk (possibly organic), 3 table-spoon filmjölk (sour milk) , salt.

*the amount depends on the concentration, which is generally indicated on the box. I will, from now on, use vegetable rennet, as the regular one is very far from being vegetarian (just google about it and you will understand)

How to: warm up the milk to 37 degrees (Celsius, 98 Fahrenheit), add the rennet and let it do it’s job. It takes 45-60 minutes for the milk to coagulate. With a slotted spoon collect the floating pieces of coagulated milk in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and let drain overnight (see picture below).

The morning after, invert the cheese on a plate and place it back in the colander, upside down. Sprinkle with salt and transfer to the fridge. It will be ready after a few hours.

CONSIDERATIONS: This was unbelievably easy and the end result looked and tasted like a pretty decent fresh cheese. Something between a ricotta and a toma. Now, as a matter of fact, I did want to make stracchino – and I will get there, eventually :)  The reason why I though of starting with cheese making indeed is the impossibility of finding real fresh Italian cheese in Sweden. And what is life without some super fresh Italian cheese? Still craving my stracchino, I will for now enjoy this fresh something-something cheese. The road is long but the path sounds exciting. Stay tuned!

So easy to make and so pretty to look at…

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  1. I have always been interested in making my own cheese, this article was very informative and instructive, sadly after reading this I now feel like it may be too much work for me :P

  2. You really are some kind of adventuress in the kitchen, it seems to me. And funny, germans I know that live in Italy complain that they can’t get any “Quark” – and Italians around the world miss their italian variations.
    Very interesting and I’m looking forward to read more about your alchemistic experiences

    Ninive

    • lol. and adventuress of the kitchen, I will remember this one :) thank you! we can get some Italian fresh cheese here but it is industrial low quality stuff. best would be for some local farm to start producing Italian-style cheese.

  3. Have you saved the whey to make ricotta? I tried a couple of times and turned out pretty great!

  4. This is something I have been wanting to try for a loooooong time! Bookmarking for future reference. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your foray into cheese-making :)

  5. this is a great post!! I have never tried making cheese and I have to say you have succeeded here. It looks wonderful. I love stracchino too but I cannot find it in the UK either. It would be great to be able to make it at home. Ciao!

    • you are always soooo nice! I will get there (making stracchino) and then I will let you know how to do it yourself. what is like without stracchino? buona serata

  6. E in italiano? Ora mi tocca fare una fatica bestiale a trudurre con il mio inglese scolastico ma non rinuncio, imposto google e vado! Bello il formaggio fatto in casa, bello bello bellissimo!!!
    Ma senti un po’ tu, perchè mi metti in testa tutte queste idee? Ora mi tocca farlo di sucuro!!!
    Lo sai che mi piacerebbe proprio starti vicina di casa? Sarei sempre a bussare alla porta….. approfittatrice!
    Tesoro, ma tu lo conosci W&W? Tutte donne italiana e non, vieni a vedere….http://www.withandwithin.com/it/login che così ci troviamo anche qui….. meglio di facebook o di twitter…. SOLO donne qui!
    ciao cara!!!
    Sandra

    • amore, appena ho tempo ci passo da quelle parti. grazie per l’apprezzamento e se fossimo vicine mi sa che sarei io quella a romperti gli zibidei continuamente. bacioni

  7. Barbara, you have the soul (and skilled hands) of a pioneer! How amazing that you are able to make for yourself in Sweden the treats from home that you miss so much. This cheese looks infinitely appealing… Brava! What next? Mozzarella de bufflonne? I wouldn’t put it past you.

    • yeah! a pioneer woman. that’s what I am :) thank you MC, you are always so encouraging. next will be… can’t say. have ordered two books on the subject, will have to do some reading before trying again.

  8. wow! incredibile!..sto facendoo la ricotta ora!! a te è perfetta! io sn alle prove tecniche speriamo che mi riesce come la tua! domani lo sapremo! :D ciao cara!

  9. Ho giusto un litro di latte in scdenza e vado a farne ricotta ma mi piacerebbe un sacco fare il fomaggio….
    bellissime le tue foto cosi` luminose….
    francesca

  10. I know I keep on saying this, but your photography is astounding!

  11. Dear Barbara, I agree with your attitude: at some point, one has to start and the first try is the beginning of learning. You can read a lot, and you will need to do some reading before you go much further, but it’s also good to “just do it.” You’ve actually learned about milk coagulation and draining. And you’ve learned that making fresh cheese is fairly straightforward. Indeed, you didn’t make stracchino. That will come, once you get an accurate recipe and you have a better sense of the various elements of cheese making. The goal of my first try was to get something edible. You did it!

    • thank you for taking the time to stop by. it means a lot to have an expert to follow my first steps. yepp, I have learn something for sure. and now when I will be reading about cheese it will not be just abstract, because of this previous experience.

  12. Great Barbara, your first cheese (I thought that your new diet did not include dairy products…). It looks very fresh, ok this is not a stracchino, but I like your attitude ‘just do it’. I think a lot before acting (too much!). In the meantime I’ve ‘killed’ another starter: I baked a bread this morning and it was horrible….

    • lol. yepp, it definitely wasn’t stracchino :) have to get that right and I guess it will take some reading and pondering. it is true, I experiment and “just do” things. but then I also spend time learning from others. ps: you are an excellent cook and baker, there is no reason why you should not make also sourdough bread…

  13. You are so talented! Cheese looks super!

  14. This looks really good and simple. I have the same problem with Quark here in the US. I have been contemplating to make my own as well. I have recently found some in a store but besides being WAY overpriced, the product wasn’t even close to what I consider Quark… Sorry that you cannot find fresh Italian cheese where you live but good job for making your own. This cheese looks soo tasty!!!

    • you know, I have never tried Quark really and it could be on my to do list of cheeses to make as it seems you German gals are crazy about it). yes, why don’t you try too? in US is so incredibly easy to get all that you need for cheese making online. and if you go to the page of “briciole” you will find a great resource about home cheese making (to me that is not so easy to use as it is all based on American products but for you sounds perfect!).

      check this out

      http://briciole.typepad.com/blog/making-cheese-at-home.html

  15. What a coincident! Last week we also tried to make cheese, me and the girls. First we made yogurt and then we made Labane from it. Yum. Yours look great and yummy too.

  16. I tuoi esperimenti formaggiosi hanno prodotto davvero ottimi risultati :) Io per ora sono ferma alla ricotta, ho provato a cercare il caglio il farmacia ma mi hanno guardata come se fossi un’extraterrestre!!!!!!!!! Un bacione

  17. Ciao Barbara, torno perché mi è piaciuto troppo leggere il tuo commento, hai capito tutto quel che c’era da capire, quindi eccoci pronte per una bella conoscenza. E dove a Stoccolma? ci sono stata un totale di dieci giorni all’inizio e alla fine del giro in Scania. Se mi seguirai vedrai che ogni 15 giorni pubblico ricette di cucina ligure per la tua delizia! A presto un abbraccio
    Carla Emilia

  18. How neat! I’ve been wanting to make homemade mozzarella. We looked up where to get rennet and when we went there, they had no idea what we were talking about. So. I’ll have to try harder! I’ve never seen such a pretty looking homemade cheese. Great job. :)

  19. ummmm, SIS!!! how did i miss this LUXURIOUS post!!?? i miss you!

  20. Oh… Adoro lo stracchino… e quanto mi manca! Anch’ io ho fattomil formaggio fresco varie volte e ne sono rimasta veramente soddisfatta, è venuto buonissimo.
    Ciao.

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