Making Homemade soft cheese is both easy and rewarding and can start you on a quest leading to greater things.
Cheese in all is various forms has been part of Human culture for thousands of years and its true origins are unknown. Principally it began as a means of preserving the nutrient rich fat and protein in milk for leaner times. Derived from the Latin Caseus it is postulated that early traders may have stored sheep’s milk in animal stomachs used as storage vessels, the stomach enzyme Rennet transforming the milk in to curds and whey. More can be found here.
Rennet is a complex set of enzymes produced in the stomachs of ruminant mammals (goats, sheep and cows.) Chymosin, its key component, is a protease enzyme that curdles the casein in milk. In addition to chymosin, rennet contains other enzymes, such as pepsin and a lipase. Less than 5% of cheese in the world is made using animal rennet today. Most cheese is now made using chymosin derived from bacterial sources.
The need for Humans to preserve food over the centuries has led to a very diverse range of cheeses from all over the World, each with their own tradition and recipes, becoming intertwined in the Culture and identity of the people.
What you will need
Heavy bottomed saucepan, thermometer, Rennet or vegetarian Rennet, Mesophillic starter culture (For Example Mad Millie’s Mesophillic starter culture – widely available.) Large colander, Cheese cloth.
optional – a soft cheese mould
To make 250-500g of Soft cheese
4 pints of whole milk, 250mls double cream, 2 drops of liquid Rennet, 1/8th teaspoon of Mesophillic starter culture, 1/2 tsp Salt
Place the milk and cream in the heavy bottom pan and gently heat to 30oC (86oF) – this does not take long so be careful not to overshoot.
Remove from heat and add the 2 drops of Rennet and Mesophillic culture and mix thoroughly for 30 seconds
Allow to rest over night at room temperature
Next morning the curd should have formed, separating from the side of the pan. It should cut cleanly when sliced in the pan with a knife.
Cut the curd into 1 inch chunks
Line a colander in the sink (or baking tray) with the cheese cloth
Pour in the curds and whey.
Gather up the sides of the cheese cloth and hang over the sink or baking tray at room temperature for 14-16 hours to drain off the whey
Once drained – spoon the creamy soft cheese into a container and add the 1/2 tsp of salt. You can also at this stage mould the cheese using a mould into a round, add flavour such as crushed garlic.