Over the years, we have raised both dairy goats and a Jersey cow. A fantastic benefit of raising your own dairy (or finding a good source of local, raw, pastured dairy) is having extra milk for cheese. (Read here for more on the blessings and privileged of home dairying.)
When we had goats, I didn't have as much extra milk as I'd like. When we had a cow, I had tons of milk. It's always a balancing act of what to do with it when you've got it. 😉
Usually, my extra milk gets turned into cheese, kefir, yogurt, or clabber (for the animals). Below is a round-up of the simplest cheese recipes; the ones I make all the time!
4 Easy Raw Cheese Recipes
Are you interested in raw cheese-making? I've tried a bunch of recipes, and 4 of them I make over and over again.
These are the cheeses that we eat daily (and that also populate my freezer) offering all the benefits of raw cultured milk, such as beneficial bacteria and enzymes. None of these cheeses go over 93 degrees Fahrenheit; they can still be called raw with the enzymes and bacteria intact.
Note: You may use the whey from all these cheeses in your lacto-fermentation and/or soaking.
#1 — Chevre or Soft Cheese
My recipe takes off from Fias Co. Farm (like most of the recipes I follow), and it is delicious! We spread it on toast, or use it as the dairy base for a delicious creamy dressing. This is a 48-hour cheese and it pretty much makes itself. 24 hours for culturing, and 24 hours for dripping. I use two layers of 90-count cheesecloth and find no need to hang the cheese up – a colander suspended in a pot works just fine. I have learned a lot about this process since my first attempt and you'll see all my tweaks in my current recipe (guest posted at Edible Aria).
#2 — Kefir Cheese
Whenever we have too much kefir around, it inevitably becomes cheese following a simple dripping process. You can read about it here in my Probiotic Potato Salad recipe — although I no longer find it necessary to hang the bag of dripping kefir.
I drip it through two layers of 90 count cheesecloth in a colander suspended in a pot. This cheese can also be used in the delicious creamy dressing or spread on toast, or seasoned up as a dip for veggies. Yogurt can be turned into a similar cheese.
#3 — Queso Fresco
What I really love about this cheese is that it is a raw cheese that shreds and melts. I have not made mozarella or other high-temperature cheeses yet because I hesitate to destroy all the beneficial bacteria and enzymes in raw milk. So for now, I've happily settled on this cheese to fill the purpose of a shreddable, meltable cheese that retains its good enzymes and bacteria. It requires a little extra attention at the cooking stage – you must nurture the curds as they slowly rise in temperature from 86 to 93 degrees F. This cheese does need a press; I use the Tome/St. Paulin mold and follower from The Diary Connection. (Thank you, Annette, for sharing this resource.) I weight it down with my husband's weight-lifting weights – it needs 35 pounds of pressure by the end of the pressing. After pressing, you age it in the refrigerator for 3 days and then it is ready to eat! I'll be pulling some out of the fridge today that just finished.
You can see this cheese being pressed in this (free) video demonstration of the Ultimate Cheese Press from Homesteader Supply.
#4 — Feta Cheese
Also from Fias Co Farm, this feta cheese is easy to make. It does stink up the house, just like the author says. This is due to the culturing with calf lipase. One day my husband said he wasn't sure he wanted to make cheese any more, the smell was so strong. 😉 But it is worth it, we've all come to agree. You'll follow steps of culturing and setting the milk, cutting the curds, firming up the curds at a low temperature while the whey continues to separate out, and then hanging the cheese for 24 hours to harden. Then you cut the feta into chunks and allow it to age for three days before putting it into a salt water brine where it must age for another month. The result is absolutely delicious! You've never had feta cheese until you taste a homemade, fresh feta.
Want to learn more about raw cheesemaking? Check out a Traditional Cooking School membership which includes access to a complete Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eCourse, including dozens of videos and print tutorials for everything from sour cream and yogurt to a variety of simple cheeses.
What cheese do you make or would you like to make? Do you have any questions about anything I've shared? What kind of information would you like to know about cheesemaking?
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