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#1 of 26 Old 02-08-2011, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been buying a lot of farmer's cheese lately, but I think I could save a ton of money if I just bought milk and made my own cheese. I'm currently following a personalized version of the Blood Type Diet (SWAMI computer program that calculates a diet just for me) and I get farmer's cheese as a "Beneficial food" while ricotta cheese is only a "neutral" and many other dairy products are complete avoids. (On my own, I was avoiding all dairy since it led to fibromyalgia flaring up, but now that I know which dairy products are OK for me, I'm enjoying them without problems.)

 

I've looked online for recipes to make it, but those looked identical to recipes for ricotta cheese- cook milk with lemon or vinegar, let sit, then strain. The farmer's cheese I can buy in the store is cultured, and that's the kind of cheese I'd like to make myself. Besides the fact that farmer cheese has a higher rating in my personalized food list, a cultured dairy product intuitively feels healthier.

 

Is there some way to make my own cultured farmer cheese, using purchased farmer's cheese as a starter?


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#2 of 26 Old 02-16-2011, 03:28 PM
 
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#3 of 26 Old 02-17-2011, 08:56 PM
 
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Yes, you can easily make your own cheese.

Is the farmer's cheese you are buying a soft, spreadable type of cheese, or more like a firm mozzarella?  I've seen both.

 

For the soft type, you can either buy cultures/rennet specifically blended to make the cheese, or use storebought cultured buttermilk.

Either way, heat a gallon of milk to 85-90 degrees F.  Add one packet of 'fromage blanc' (white cheese) culture (http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/p/138-Fromage-Blanc-DS-5-pack.html) or 1/2 cup buttermilk, stir thoroughly, and keep at room temperature for 12 hours.  After 12 hrs the fromage blanc will be firm like jello; ladle the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth, a clean cloth, or a paper towel.  Let drain for 4 - 12 hours, depending on the texture you like.  It will be rather crumbly.  To make it really creamy/spreadable, blend it in a food processor with a couple tablespoons of milk until smooth.  Add salt to taste at this point.  Cheese needs a lot of salt.  As in 2 tsp or more for this much.  But add it slowly, to taste.

You can also press your cheese to make it firm and sliceable.  Tie it up tight in cheesecloth and press with a plate and something heavy, like a gallon of water.

If you used the buttermilk to culture it, it will probably need to set for longer, since it doesn't have rennet in it.  You can go up to 24 hours.  It won't ever get quite as firm, but it will be solid enough that you can ladle it out and strain, as above.

Each gallon of milk should make 2-3 pounds of cheese, depending on the type.  Whole milk is best; skim milk makes for a drier cheese and low yield.  Most importantly, do not use ultra-pasteurized milk - it won't set.

 

I hope this helps!  Let me know if you have any more questions.

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#4 of 26 Old 02-18-2011, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Weird- I  thought I responded this morning?

 

Can this recipe be halved? I don't think I could use 2-3 lbs of cheese before it spoiled, and I was thinking of buying a gallon of milk (instead of half a gallon) making cheese wtih half and saving back half for DS to drink.


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#5 of 26 Old 02-18-2011, 02:14 PM
 
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It can definitely be halved, with no other changes.  I've done a quart to 5 gallons - just divide/multiply the cultures as well.

 

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#6 of 26 Old 02-20-2011, 06:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How important is it to use "the right amount" of starter? Would the cheese set faster if I used 1/2 cup of buttermilk rather than 1/4 cup in 1/2 gallon of milk?

 

Cheesemaking books make the process seem complicated- they recomend using a double boiler to heat the milk (which, in my kitchen, would mean fitting my medium dairy pot inside my large dairy pot.) Is that really important, or can I heat the milk directly over a very low heat?

 

Is there some way to keep the starter going, the way I do with beet kvass and used to do with sourdough starter? Or do I have to keep buying buttermilk in the store?


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#7 of 26 Old 02-21-2011, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I checked the store today, and they do have cultured buttermilk, but only in quarts. If I only need a quarter cup a week, I'll be wasting money by buying a whole quart at a time.

 

Can the buttermilk be frozen and then still used to make cheese?

 

If not, I might be better off making cheese with lemon juice rather than culturing the milk.


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#8 of 26 Old 02-22-2011, 11:31 AM
 
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You can certainly freeze buttermilk for later.  Use something like an ice cube tray - then you'll know for every 1/2 gallon of milk you'll need, say, 2 cubes. 

You can also use the whey from your batch of cheese to make the next batch, though after a while the spectrum of bacteria/cultures changes and you'll want to start again with buttermilk.  Use the same amount of whey as buttermilk.  You can also freeze whey for later.

Using more culture will speed things up, to a point.  Then the cheese will just be too sour.  Anywhere from 2 tablespoons to a cup can be used, with different 'set' times and texture/taste.  Play around with it until you find something that you like.

And I never use a double boiler!  As long as you stir frequently and check the temp (and your pot has a good base), you can use fairly high heat.

 

You can also make your own sour cream/creme fraiche with buttermilk.  2 T per cup of cream (80 degrees), let sit at room temp until slightly thickened.  It will set up a lot more once it's cold.

 

Good luck!

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#9 of 26 Old 02-22-2011, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input! I'll definitely buy the buttermilk, use what we need and then freeze the rest in ice cube trays. This should save me a lot of money in the long run.

 

I bought a whole gallon of milk at Costco today (though we still have some left in the half gallon I bought earlier, so I don't need to open up the gallon today) and I plan to make cheese tomorrow. I didn't buy any buttermilk yesterday because I wasn't sure if the quart would go to waste; now that I know it's freezable, I'll pick some up the next time I go shopping. I think it will be a fun project with the kids to make cheese while they're on school vacation.

 

If I'm not able to get the  buttermilk before I'm ready to make cheese, then I'll use lemon juice this one time and try the buttermilk next week, but I'll try to get to the store tomorrow. DS wants to return deposit bottles anyway.

 


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#10 of 26 Old 02-23-2011, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, I bought the buttermilk today and put about 1/3 of a cup of it into 1/2 gallon of warmed whole milk. I should have measured it out in a smaller measuring cup- it was hard to get 1/4 cup with the one I used. I have the mixture in a covered pot on my kitchen counter, and I plan to drain out the whey tomorrow morning.

 

I only have 1 dairy ice cube tray, so I froze a portion of the extra buttermilk earlier, transferred the cubes onto a plate then into a gallon-sized freezer bag, and I have a 2nd batch freezing now. There's still more buttermilk in the carton (which is weird, because there are 16 ice cubes on the tray and I thought each held an ounce) but I'm hoping one more batch in the freezer will do it. Ah, I just measured with plain ice cubes in a measuring cup of water. 2 cubes is an ounce, so 1 tray is 8 oz (not 16 like I thought), so I'll need 1 more batches in the freezer (and the 4th batch won't be quite full.) Then I'll need 4 cubes of buttermilk to each 1/2 gallon of milk, not 2 cubes.

 

I really hope this works! I'm wasting a lot of energy freezing buttermilk cubes if it doesn't. wink1.gif


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#11 of 26 Old 02-24-2011, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What is WRONG with my computer? This is the second time I've updated the thread first thing in the morning, only to not see my update when I checked an hour or so later!

 

As of 8:30 AM, the warm cultured milk was still just milk- not a gelatinous mass ready for straining.

 

What should I do now?

 

Let it keep culturing and try again in a few hours? Or should I heat the milk and add lemon juice to make paneer, so I don't waste the milk?


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#12 of 26 Old 02-24-2011, 05:12 PM
 
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It's possible the starter (buttermilk) was no longer active (the bacteria died) Either it wasn't good to begin with, or possibly the milk was too hot when you added it? I'm not sure exactly what farmer's cheese is like, but you may want to try putting fresh buttermilk in a baking dish and leaving it in a warm oven overnight. The curds will seperate from the whey. Then strain it following the directions in the earlier post. You can keep the liquid whey to use in smoothies - it's very nutritious. The curds from the buttermilk is what German's call Quark. It's thick like Greek yogurt, but not as sour. It's absolutely delicious! To make your own buttermilk add one cup of buttermilk to 3 cups of milk. Pour into a glass jar and store in a warm area of the house for 24 hours or until clabbered. It will keep in the fridge for quite a while.
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#13 of 26 Old 02-25-2011, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Note to self: cheese making can take up to 3 days, so don't start it later in the week than Tuesday!

 

I ladled the cheese glop into a cloth-lined colander this morning, and then later this morning I transferred it to a smaller colander (after folding closed the cloth napkin and closed it with a rubber band) then put the colander in the pot, put the lid on the pot, and put the whole contraption into the fridge. It's likely to be ready to salt and season very close to Shabbos, or even ON Shabbos, when I really can't do any food prep except for immediate use (and I'll likely be busy preparing food for a meat meal, so I won't want to ge dairy mixed in and make everything non-kosher.)

 

This is getting messy and complicated and I feel like I'm lacking the right equipment to strain the cheese properly, but it's working and it's a nice feeling that I can do this!


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#14 of 26 Old 02-28-2011, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, so I ended up with quark cheese rather than farmer's cheese. Since the quark cheese isn't as good for me (SWAMI calls it a toxin to eat occasionally in small amounts, rather than a superfood to emphasize) I don't want to make that kind of cheese again, even though it was delicious. I do plan to make this again around Hanukkah time, in place of sour cream for latkes.

 

On Saturday night, I put up a cup of milk with 1 tablespoon (1 cube) of buttermilk to set. No more big batches until I get the recipes and techniques figured out!!!

 

I'm now cooking the curds at around 100 degrees to try and make cottage cheese this time. It doesn't look anything like the commercial variety- it's more like thick  yogurt rather than individual lumps of curd like the cottage cheese I'm used to. I hope I wasn't too rough with the uncooked curd before it firmed up. But even if the texture is "weird," if it tastes good (and I feel good when I eat it) then I'll do this again.

 

The next thing to try is paneer/lemon cheese. That just requires heating milk and adding lemon juice, waiting about half an hour, then straining. I probably should have tried that kind of cheese first, before buying the buttermilk.


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#15 of 26 Old 03-01-2011, 01:38 PM
 
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Sorry your cheese didn't exactly work out for you.

But I would think that as long as it is an uncooked, cultured cheese, it would be healthier than store-bought cheese or cooked cheese such as ricotta or paneer. 

"Quark" and "farmer's cheese" are just names given to cheese, with no specific recipes - everyone makes it differently.  In fact, quark is a type of farmer's cheese (basically any simple, unripened cheese, whether it is skim or whole milk, pressed or unpressed, renneted or non-renneted).  I guess I'm a little confused that your diet is saying one is bad and one is good, when they are really the same thing.

 

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#16 of 26 Old 03-02-2011, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well,I  followed the recipe for "small curd cottage cheese" in that 1974 cheesemaking book I borrowed from the library. I ended up with something that didn't look or taste anything like cottage cheese. I'd probably need to follow the "large curd cottage cheese" recipe (which uses rennet) for that.

 

What I got looks and tastes like farmer cheese!  smile.gif

 

I let it culture for 2 days, then I cut the curd, let it sit a few minutes, then I heated it up to about 115 degrees, let it simmer about half an hour, and then I strained it.

 

I only did that with a cup of milk, so I got a REALLY tiny amount of cheese,  but I have another half gallon of milk culturing right now.

 

I think I'll keep using this technique for now, but I'll give the lemon cheese/paneer a try when I finish up the buttermilk in the freezer, before buying more.

 

How's that new calf of yours doing? Have you had a chance to make any cheese yourself yet?

 

 


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#17 of 26 Old 03-05-2011, 07:36 AM
 
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I'm trying to think of the logistics here.  If you had a giant pot, put in the water, put a piece of cheesecloth over the water to prevent splashing, then put in your medium dairy pot, put the milk in it and covered it to be double sure it didn't splash in, would you absolutely need the larger pot to be dairy also?  I mean, if boiling water is what you use to kasher the pot to begin with, then how would boiling water from the lower pot treyf the upper pot?  And you don't eat off of the outside of the pot anyway, so how would boiling water from the lower pot matter?  Or am I just so far off of the topic that it's not worth answering?
 

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Cheesemaking books make the process seem complicated- they recomend using a double boiler to heat the milk (which, in my kitchen, would mean fitting my medium dairy pot inside my large dairy pot.) Is that really important, or can I heat the milk directly over a very low heat?

 

 



 

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#18 of 26 Old 03-06-2011, 09:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The inner pot can't be kept covered because the curds need to be stirred at certain points while heating.

 

In theory, you're right. The outer pot could be kept pareve (neither dairy nor meat) if none of the milk mixture splashed into the outer pot. But in reality, what's the chance of NOT dripping anything when stirring it on the stove? Also, kashering the pot isn't quite as simple as just boiling it with plain water. The pot needs to be unused for 24 hours before boiling, which is impractical to do frequently.

 

Come to think of it, my big "dairy" pot probably is pareve, as I mostly use it for vegetable soups and pasta, and I may not have used it for cooking any actual dairy since last Passover (when I kashered it for Passover use.) But I still think of it as the dairy pot, as I wouldn't use that pot to make  bone broth, and I wouldn't consider making cheese in either of my meat pots (which are most definitely used to cook meat on a regular basis.)


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#19 of 26 Old 03-06-2011, 10:10 AM
 
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Gotcha about stirring.  I missed that piece.

 

Yeah, if you use it for other things, then it wouldn't make sense.  

 

Sometimes I think that if I was ever going to go back to keeping kosher, I'd just build a separate meat kitchen.  I'm the only one in the family who eats it, so it doesn't need to be big.  I'm lucky to remember who my kids are -- keeping track of all the balls in the air was just too hard.  However, in all fairness, I know it's a matter of getting used to it.  Maybe once my kids are older and not prone to playing with kitchenware & food.
 

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The inner pot can't be kept covered because the curds need to be stirred at certain points while heating.

 

In theory, you're right. The outer pot could be kept pareve (neither dairy nor meat) if none of the milk mixture splashed into the outer pot. But in reality, what's the chance of NOT dripping anything when stirring it on the stove? Also, kashering the pot isn't quite as simple as just boiling it with plain water. The pot needs to be unused for 24 hours before boiling, which is impractical to do frequently.

 

Come to think of it, my big "dairy" pot probably is pareve, as I mostly use it for vegetable soups and pasta, and I may not have used it for cooking any actual dairy since last Passover (when I kashered it for Passover use.) But I still think of it as the dairy pot, as I wouldn't use that pot to make  bone broth, and I wouldn't consider making cheese in either of my meat pots (which are most definitely used to cook meat on a regular basis.)



 

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#20 of 26 Old 06-22-2011, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I made paneer cheese this week- wow, that was so easy! Why didn't I try this way first??


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#21 of 26 Old 06-22-2011, 06:30 PM
 
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Hi Ruth,

 

I buy cheese making supplies online from The New England Cheesemaking Co.  Since you mention you keep Kosher, you might be interested in the vegetarian rennet (tablets or liquid) http://www.cheesemaking.com/cheeserennets.html

 

In my cheese making, I have found the age of the milk, and whether it has been pasturized commercially at quite high temperatures has made a lot of difference. Since I live in Hong Kong, where it is hard to get milk that has not been pasturized at very high temperatures, I mostly make soft cheeses. I have only been successful w/ mozarella once or twice.

 

Good luck & have fun w/ your cheese making.

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#22 of 26 Old 06-24-2011, 07:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Fussing with rennet is too much like work and expense for me. I'm happy with the cheeses I can make with lemon juice and buttermilk.

 

Oh, and here's the paneer cheese recipe I used:

 

http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2009/02/quick-homemade-cheese.html

 

The rest of that blog is awesome as well.


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#23 of 26 Old 06-24-2011, 07:50 AM
 
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You might be interested in Smitten Kitchen, who just did a post about making ricotta (check out the comments for discussion about how it's not a true ricotta - which she admitted in her post, and also making mascarpone, quark cheese and mozzarella). 

 

 

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#24 of 26 Old 06-24-2011, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It looks like the only difference between riccotta and paneer is that in riccotta, you add the salt when you heat it, and in the paneer, I didn't salt it until after straining.  I think I'll try this technique next time.

 

The thought of adding cream, and ending up with a spreadable cheese, is intriguing as well.


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#25 of 26 Old 08-21-2011, 01:48 PM
 
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can you use lactose free milk in place of whole milk to make farmers cheese?
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#26 of 26 Old 08-22-2011, 04:33 PM
 
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You should be able to make an acid-coagulated cheese (using lemon juice or citric acid) such as paneer or ricotta.

But bacteria rely on the lactose to multiply (they convert the milk sugars to lactic acid, making it tangy), so if there isn't any lactose it might not work.  Might be worth a try though.

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