I got out of work early today and found some time to finally try my hand at making cheese. I'm not going to go in depth with the directions. If you are going to try it you will want to follow some fairly specific directions. I bought a kit with everything I needed -- which was convenient but was not entirely necessary. The whole process was described in "Hobby Farm Home" March/April 2010 which you should be able to find in stores right now too.
So -- here are the basics...
Start with whole milk - pasteurized is fine, ultra-pasteurized is NOT OK to use. Heat it up then add some dissolved citric acid and stir. It starts to look like soupy cottage cheese.
Then you heat it a bit more and add some dissolved vegetarian rennet. It starts to look really nasty then. It clumps up and the whey separates out from the curd.
Then you scoop out the curd, drain off the whey, microwave the curds until they are hot enough to stretch, and add salt. Then stretch it and form it however you would like. I think I needed to get mine hotter because it doesn't look very smooth -- but overall I am very happy with the results. I think tomorrow I will make pizza and see how it melts. I can make the crust and the cheese -- now I just have to master making tomato sauces and canning them... but that is coming up this summer.
I saved the left over whey in the milk jug it originally came in. They say you can give it to chickens (coming soon?) and cats. So, that is what I did. I let Sassafras try it first. She tried it out -- but she isn't really an adventurous cat (she doesn't like much besides her own food). I gave some to the orange outdoor cat who is coming to be known as "Ralphie". He really liked the stuff -- so I will continue to feed it to him for the next few days.
So, I am well on my way to being a cheese wiz. It is going to take some practice -- but this was an encouraging first step.