What's required for making hard cheeses? Here's a list of what you will need to make a hard cheese.
Whole milk, the more fat content the more cheese you get. 2 gallons of milk will get you about a 2lb wheel of cheese.
Rennet is needed to separate the curds and whey. I recommend liquid animal rennet
. Its much easier to use and measure than the tablet rennet.
You will need a culture to ripen and flavor the cheese you want to make. Without it, you will have a basic white cheese. Today we are using a mesophilic starter
A lot of places tell you to buy cheese salt. Its a flaked salt and melts easy, but its expensive and I haven't had a problem with regular salts. Just make sure you buy NON-iodized
salt. This costs about 50 cents.
You will need a good accurate thermometer. I use a lab grade glass thermometer.
Store bought milk is homogenized and it affects the calcium in the process. Usually sold in a 30% solution. If you can find it in powder form you can make your own.
You don't want to put milk directly on the heat, a double boiler is needed to prevent scalding. Your pot should also be large enough to hold 2 gallons of milk.
You will need to press your cheese. In the next step I'll go over how I built my cheese press.
Not the bad kind of mold. I'm talking about a container to shape your cheese. You can buy them. I made some out of a plastic bucket. All you need to do is remove the bottom and put a bunch of holes in it. Save the bottom you cut off to use it as a runner.
My container is tapered, which has worked fine but a straight one would work best.
This is not what you are thinking. That white mesh you can buy in the grocery store labeled cheese cloth is worthless in cheese making. What you need is called butter muslin
. A fine woven reusable cloth. I've used cotton cloth, like T-shirt material before, it works fine.
Some cheese age for several months to years. To keep the cheese from drying out, you wax it. Don't try to wax your cheese with paraffin wax. It's not the same and won't work well.
If you really get into cheese making you will need a place to age your cheese. Cheese is stored around 45-60 degrees. A cool basement works if you have one. People use wine refrigerators as well.