Making Soft Cheese

I finally made my own cheese. Its delicious, creamy soft cheese. I didn't really mean to make cheese. What I mean is, it didn't start out to be cheese. I was making buttermilk and left it so long on the counter that it separated.

This is normal for making buttermilk. I usually shake it off and on while its making to prevent this, and also occasionally use a hand blender to smooth the buttermilk. 

This day I was busy, so I left it on the counter for another full day until it had separated completely with curds on the top and a clear, greenish liquid, called whey, on the bottom. I only left it that long because I worked that day and was just too busy to deal with it. By the time I finally got around to doing something with it, the curds at the top were fairly solid. This is how cottage cheese is started.

My kitchen helper watched me closely from a chair by his usual perch on the kitchen table. He likes anything to do with dairy products, although we don't give him much of it. He has a sensitive digestive system.

The fully separated "buttermilk" tasted great and smelled sweet, so I drained it in cheesecloth for a few hours to see what I had. I tied the two ends around a wooden spoon and suspended it over a bowl on the countertop.

Cottage cheese is made with this curd that is heated to 190 and strained. I didn't heat this up because I was just too busy at the moment making cabbage rolls, baking cookies and making lemon squares all at the same time. One more thing would have just been too much for me.

This kind of soft cheese can be made without rennet. Rennet is necessary to make many soft cheeses and any hard cheese. This cheese was delicious! I used it in lemon squares and made more to bake with. 

I left it to drain for a few hours. I should have left it longer but I am just too impatient. Hmmmm... Maybe I am too impatient to be making cheese.

I still had the whey in a jug. Whey is great stuff, full of things that are very good for you. You can even buy powdered whey in health food stores. It can replace any liquid used in baking.

I put it in the freezer. I put some plastic wrap over a couple of tiny muffin pans, filled them and set them in the freezer. When they were hard, I put the frozen whey pieces together in a large freezer bag. I have got to get some ice cube trays!!

At this point Chisel lost interest and decided to take a bath.