It’s been a while, but I’m making some cheese! It’s a very simple soft cheese called Lactic Cheese. I know – doesn’t sound very interesting, does it? But it smells good – kind of yogurty – and tonight it should be drained enough for me to taste it.
The cheese-making was very spur-of-the-moment. I was checking in the freezer to see what cheese-making supplies I had on hand and figure out what I wanted to order. And as I was counting packets of cultures and rennet tablets and so forth, I realized I had a gallon of milk in the fridge – unopened – and hey! I could make some sort of cheese NOW if I wanted to!
I flipped through the soft cheese recipes in Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheese Making and came across the recipe for Lactic Cheese. All I needed was a gallon of milk, a packet of direct set mesophilic starter culture, some liquid rennet, and salt.
I took the two half gallons of Rhody Fresh milk out of the fridge so they could come up to room temperature while we all ate dinner.
And after dinner, I realized that the recipe called for three drops of liquid rennet. I only had the tablets.
Well…a rennet tablet is equal to a teaspoon of liquid rennet. So…I figured I could use a little bit of one of the tablets in place of the three drops.
The correct home cheese making term for this substitution is “Winging It.”
So I took about an eighth of a tablet, crushed it, and mixed it with the third of a cup of cool water called for.
I got my milk warmed up to 86 F, which didn’t take long because I was starting with nearly room – temp milk.
Then I stirred in the mesophilic starter culture, added a little over a teaspoon of the rennet/water mixture, stirred that in gently, put the lid on the pot, wrapped the pot in a towel, and I was done for the night.
This morning it was time to drain the curds.
First – I had to see if the curds had set.
Then I scooped the curds out of the pot and placed them in a muslin-lined collander to drain a bit.
Now, the nice big piece of butter muslin I have USED to be roughly a square shape. And at some point I must have cut a quarter of the square off to use for something else.
A square-shaped quarter piece.
So the rest of it is – yes – a sort of L-shape.
Not so easy to work with when it’s filled with liquidy curds.
But I managed. I gently pulled the edges together and tied them in a knot around a long wooden spoon.
Only problem was that I hadn’t tied the knot tight enough, so when I hung the bag o’ curds from the spoon at the top of my big pot, the bottom of the bag was nearly touching the bottom of the pan.
Kind of hard to drain curds when they’re sitting in a puddle of whey.
I don’t have a taller pot, or a way to hang the wooden spoon from something higher above the pot, either…(mental note: talk to Bill about the possibility of hooks in the ceiling for just such occasions…).
And then I had it. A Great Idea!
Here it is:
Know what that is? It’s the outer ring of my largest springform pan! It sits very nicely in the little lip of the pot and raises the draining cheese several more inches above the bottom of the pan.
Yay! I love it when I have good ideas! They don’t come all that often, so when they do, it’s cause for celebration.
Anyway, the cheese is still draining, though the bulk of the whey has already come through.
I put a quart in a canning jar in the fridge, and another quart went into the bowl of my stand mixer along with some yeast and flour. It’s getting nice and bubbly now. A bit later I’ll make some bread with it. Yay!
That’s about all I can tell you at this point. I’ll be back later when the cheese has finished draining.
Yay – cheese!