How to Make Fresh White Cheese in Oil With Herbs




Homemade cheese can be made without rennet, without a cheese press, and even with your kids.  This instructable walks you through the process of heating the milk, pressing the curds, preparing the cheese, and storing it.  Cheese prepared in this manner can last for upwards of a month in the refrigerator or a cool pantry.

What is cheese?
Cheese is pressed milk fat (curds) separated from its liquid (whey).  The trick is how to separate the fat from the liquid without completely breaking the curds down and instead keep them in tact.  

How long does this take?
This recipe can be made in a few hours, left overnight, then finished quickly on a second day.

Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment


� 2 quarts WHOLE, RAW milk. (see second photo)
� 2 cups fresh buttermilk
� 2 tbsp FRESH lemon juice
� 1 pt cream
� Salt

� Stirring implement 
� Ladle for curds
� Stainless Steel pot
� Strainer
� Cheese cloth
� A candy thermometer or submersible temperature gauge.  THIS IS A MUST

Step 2: Getting Started

1. Put the milk into a heavy stainless saucepan.  Heavy is the key because you want the milk to heat evenly as to avoid scorching.

2. Stir the buttermilk and lemon juice together thoroughly then add to saucepan.

3.  Make sure your thermometer is below the surface of the mixture but do NOT let it touch the bottom.

Step 3: Warming Up

Set the pan over very low heat and heat it slowly.  Make sure you can see the thermometer or have something ready for frequent temperature checking.

Stir the milk very gently.  During this time you're trying to coax the curds out and they need to stick together.  If you heat the milk too much you're pasteurizing it.  If you stir the milk too much, you're homogenizing it.  Kinda defeats the purpose of buying raw milk, doesn't it?

Keep an eye on your cheese mix and once that readout hits 175F cut the heat and let is cool undisturbed for about 10 minutes.  Note that I had to change a poopy diaper and my milk got almost up to 200F, so the process can be forgiving.  Remember though, the target is 175F (75C).  At this point it should be easy to distinguish the curds from the whey.

Step 4: Becoming Cheese

At this point you're going to begin pressing the curds into an actual cheese-like substance.

First, line a fine mesh strainer with several layers of cheese cloth.  Don't worry about over-doing it with the cheese cloth, no matter how many layers you put the cheese will still drain- it will just be harder to knot up.

Ladle the curds into the strainer and let drain.  Place a bowl under to collect the whey, as it is high in protein and can be used in recipes.  I separated mine into 1c measures in ziploc baggies and froze it to use in baking recipes later.  Try to get all the curds into a single mass, and if they don't fit then you should use a bigger strainer.  At this point multiple cheeses doubles your workload.

Bring the corners of the cheese cloth together and tie into a bindle.  Let this hang from a cabinet knob or faucet for 2 hours, again collecting the whey underneath.

Step 5: Drain-on!

Now that your cheese has had plenty of time to drain it's time to.... let it drain some more.

Remove the cheese from the cheese cloth, being careful not to tear.  I used the same cloth both times, so you don't run through an entire pack of cheesecloth (You already paid big $$ for the milk, economize where you can).

At this point you have a fairly soft, spreadable cheese.  If you want you can simply salt what you have and spread it on whatever you like, even season it with garlic.  This cheese will keep for weeks in your refrigerator.

IF, however, you want to keep going to the bitter, cheesy end then after mixing in a few teaspoons of salt  or even PEPPER (taste as you go), then bundle the lump up and let it drain again.  The salt will pull out more liquid and help to firm up your lump of cheese.

Step 6: Pressing Matters

If you don't have a cheese press don't worry - neither do I.  You'll be firming your cheese up in this step and getting it ready for final preparation.

At this point you should have a very round cheese ball.  You could season it and serve it as-is, or go the distance for those delectable herb cheeses.

You ready?  Then let's do this.

Remove the lump from your cheesecloth bag and place it on a level dish.  Wrap your cheese in a clean piece of cloth, single wrap, to prevent it from sticking to the plate or the press.  You want it to be about one (1) inch thick, as you're going to wind up with one-inch cheeses.  Flatten by hand or with a rolling-pin, it's still pretty forgiving at this point.

Once it's flat place a cutting board with a weight on top and refrigerate overnight (at least 8 hours).

Step 7: Cheese at Last

After waiting overnight with breathless anticipation you can finally yank that sucker out of the fridge and get to work on fulfilling your dream: eating cheese you made yourself.

Prepare 1/8 c. of dried herbs to your liking.  I chose basil, garlic, some red pepper flakes, and fresh peppercorns.  Also lemon is awesome at this step.

Get your cheese out and place it on a large cutting board.  I was surprised at this point that "hey, this actually looks like a cheese now!"  Pat yourself on the back, you're doing well.

Slice the cheese into 1-inch cubes, trying to handle them as little as possible.  The more you touch them, the mushier they'll be.

Take each cube and roll as quickly as possible into a rough sphere.  Don't worry about getting them perfect, or even uniform.  The perfection is in the imperfections at this point.  Drop each one into a 1-qt bowl with the herbs.  Try to work quickly.

Once the bowl is full, add enough olive oil to cover as well as 1 tbsp of white vinegar.

Step 8: Finale

At this point you can stick the cheeses in your fridge, or even store them in a cool dry pantry.  They'll keep for a couple of months without opening them, but once you're eating them keep 'em in the fridge.  I do lots of home canning, so I put mine in a one-quart ball canning jar with enough oil to cover the cheeses completely.

These make a fine addition to any food stores you may put up and they taste awesome.  Let them marinade for 3 days to let the flavors take effect.



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    16 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Hi, my question is how to prevent botulism if the PH is not low enough. I would not be able to store it in the fridge unless it's the jar that I'm consuming. I live with solar energy and my fridge is too small for storing cheese jars. I appreciate if you can answer this question. Thanks


    2 years ago

    HELP! I followed these steps and packed mine yesterday and I noticed that gas is being emitted, I guess by the cheese. After a few hours, the middle of the bottle cap rose a few millimeters! I opened it and it fizzed! I gave some of it to my friend and I'm worried that it might eventually break the glass. I didn't inform her yet because I don't know if this is normal or not. Please help. :(


    5 years ago

    What would you say the flavor of the cheese most closely represents ( i.e. mozzarella, Parmesan, Swiss, etc.) ?

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    We drain and roll yogurt, dry it in the sun, and pack it in olive oil like you did. I learned from you how to make safe cheese without Rennet.


    5 years ago

    I'm confused as to where and when the heavy cream is utilized.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago

    I guess I want very clear. add it at the beginning with the buttermilk.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    good luck getting raw milk in Canada I live in a faming area and people here wont sell it it is illegal :(

    2 replies

    true enough! i'm a couple hours away from dairy farms and they won't sell. One trick though for us Canadians, it is legal to buy fresh goasts milk, this can be added to the other regular store bought ingredients. This will give your curds


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Try an organic grocery store perhaps? I would buy it from the farm next time, but this time I got it at a "health food" supermarket.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    What is the thing that looks like a bunch of hair, that is obscuring the label of what I think is salt? I hope it is not one of the ingredients. It doesn't seem to be listed.

    3 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I see now. It is the top of the 5 year old's head. It just looked like this chunk of hair sitting on the counter with the ingredients. I kind of think it might be better if you showed the rest of kid, or took her completely out of the picture.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    The picture is tagged with an explanation and she is in other photos. I'm sorry to have confused you.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Fantastic! I never make enough to last more than a day, but now I know how to store it if I ever do!

    1 reply