(makes 2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
Rennet, tablets or liquid, is found in pharmacies and health-food stores
3 cups whipping cream
1 3/4 gallons plus 1 cup nonfat milk (29 cups total)
1/4 rennet tablet or 1 teaspoon liquid rennet
1/4 cup cool water (about 70 degrees F.)
1/2 cup freshly opened buttermilk
Brine (directions follow)
Before you begin, sterilize all tools and containers by pouring
boiling water over them or immersing them in boiling water. During
the cheesemaking process, have boiling water on hand to pour over
tools -- spoons and thermometer in particular -- each time you
return them to the milk mixture. This prevents certain bacteria
from affecting the cheese's flavor.
To make the curd, pour cream and nonfat milk into a 3-4 gallon pan;
stir with a metal spoon to mix. Place pan on lowest heat until milk
is 90 degrees, stirring occasionally and checking temperature often;
if liquid is cold, this may take up to 1 hour. But be patient,
since higher cooking temperatures are harder to control.
As the milk heats, combine the rennet and cool water in a small
bowl. Let the mixture stand until completely dissolved, about 15
minutes, you may need to crush the tablet with the back of a spoon.
(Or mix liquid rennet with water in a bowl.)
When the milk reaches 90 deg., add buttermilk and stir thoroughly
with a spoon. Ladle out any butter lumps.
Slowly pour rennet mixture in a spiraling pattern over milk,
stirring. Continue to stir for 3 to 5 minutes, using an up-down
circular motion to distribute the rennet evenly.
Keep the milk at 90 degrees until it forms a clot firm enough to
hold its shape in a spoon, 30 to 45 minutes; check temperature
about every 5 minutes, removing mixture from heat intermittently,
if needed. As you check the temperature, insert the thermometer
gently to avoid breaking clot more than necessary.
Next, to create crosshatch pattern and to release clear-colored
whey, cut through solid clot to pan bottom with a long knife.
First cut clot across, then at right angles for 1/2-inch squares.
Then cut diagonally, holding knife at a 45 degree angle; turn pan
at right angle and repeat. Let curds stand on low heat at 90 degrees
for 15 minutes longer (remove pan occasionally, if necessary, to
keep temperature from fluctuating), then stir with a slotted spoon
for 30 seconds.
>From this point on, you need clean but not sterilized equipment.
Quickly line a large colander with at least 2 layers of cheese-cloth,
edges overlapping rim; set in a sink with an open drain. Ladle
curds into colander. Let stand until curds stop dripping, about 1
To protect cheese's flavor, place colander in a large pan; cover
airtight with plastic wrap. Chill until curd is ready to shape (see
below), 1 to 4 days. Each day, replace cheesecloth and discard
Testing the curd. To determine when curd is ready to shape, cut
off a small 1/4-inch slice and cover with hot water (170 degrees
to 180 degrees). If after 15 to 30 seconds the slice begins to
soften and melt and, when held by 1 end, the piece stretches from
its own weight, it's ready. If the slice doesn't stretch but tears,
chill remaining curd, testing daily, up to 4 days. If curd still
won't melt -- milk got too hot or sufficient acidity did not develop
-- slice and cover with hot water (170 to 180 degrees), stirring.
Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again. Season with salt; eat
like cottage cheese.
Shaping the curd. Divide the ready curd in 4 equal portions; let
the number of portions you want to use come to room temperature.
Cover and chill remaining curd in cloth-lined colander until you
want to shape it -- no more than 5 days from when you started.
Working with 1 curd portion at a time, trim off and discard any
dried- looking bits. Cut curd into 1/4-inch-thick slices and put
into a large bowl. Pour about 1 quart hot water (170 to 180 degrees)
over slices to cover; let stand 1/2 to 1 minute to warm and begin
to melt. With the back of a large spoon, gently push slices together
and lift them from beneath, also on spoon back, so the weight of
the cheese makes it stretch. Repeat lifting cheese along the length
to stretch it; don't let rope fold back onto itself.
When cheese is flowing softly, lift 1 end of the rope from the
water and roll it under itself to form a smooth-surfaced ball 1 to
2 inches thick; pinch from rope and drop into brine. Working quickly,
repeat to shape rest of cheese; if handled too slowly or roughly,
cheese looks uneven -- but it's fine to eat. Keep cheese in brine
5 to 15 minutes to flavor (saltiness depends on length of time in
brine); lift from brine. For tenderest texture and most delicate
flavor, rinse and serve at once; or keep cold, covered, no more
than 4 hours. Flat to bitter flavors develop when cheese is past
its prime, although it is safe to eat.
Repeat to shape remaining cheese. Makes 2 1/2 to 3 pounds, depending
on how long the curd drains before shaping.
Per ounce, estimated only; 60 cal.; 4 g protein; 4.5 g fat; 1 g
carbo.; sodium varies with time in brine; 15 mg chol.
Brine. In a corrosion-resistant bowl, make enough brine to cover
cheese, using 1/2 cup salt for each 1 quart water.