Making Cheese at Home





Introduction: Making Cheese at Home

About: Pub Crawling is an International Drinking Team with a Scenario Paintball problem. Or something like that.

Let's face it, cheese is awesome. It can be paired with a wine or scotch, you can slice it, melt it, shred it, serve it up on a platter or have it with a ploughman's lunch. Given the many different ways of eating cheese trying to make it is a natural progression. It is actually an easy process, albeit a time consuming one.

There are four basic kinds of cheese, "soft", "semi-soft", "semi-hard", and "hard" though there is no hard and fast rule for classification of the cheeses in these categories. There are essentially two different processes for making cheese that will make either a "soft" variety or a "hard" variety. This Instructable we will go through the process of making a hard type of cheese. There are a lot of different types of cheese you can make with this process, everything from Cheddar, to Gouda, to Parmesan.

Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

First you are going to need to gather your ingredients and tools. Most of the tools you probably already have in your kitchen. There are some specialty ingredients that you may need in order to make cheese and I will list some sources at the end.


  • Large pot, big enough to hold 3-4 gallons (stainless preferred)
  • Long thin bladed knife
  • Large Colander
  • Long handled spoon (plastic or stainless)
  • Thermometer
  • Cheesecloth
  • Cheese Wax
  • Cheese Mould
  • Something really heavy, bricks, weights, etc.


  • 2 Gallons of Milk
  • Rennet Tablets (there's a liquid also but I prefer the tablets)
  • Mesophilic and Thermophilic cheese cultures
  • Kosher Salt
  • *Calcium Chloride
  • *8ozHeavy Cream

As we know, cheese comes from milk. You can use cow, goat, sheep, alpaca, you name it really. But for simplicity's sake we are going to use cow's milk. Make sure you get the freshest and best whole milk you can get, if there is a local dairy you can get raw milk from all the better but pretty much any milk will work. The only milk to avoid is UHT or Ultra-Pasteurized milk, sometimes known as "Shelf Milk".

Calcium Chloride and heavy cream are two additives that can help increase the cheese yield, they aren't 100% necessary but more cheese is always better than less.

Step 2: Clean Everything

Like beer brewing, sanitation is really important with cheese making. Clean everything by boiling or disinfecting it. Sterilize your tools in boiling water in the same pot you plan to make the cheese in.

Step 3: Heat Up Milk

  1. Pour milk into pot, if you are using heavy cream or calcium chloride add it as well.
  2. Slowly heat up milk to 88F (31C).
  3. Mix in your mesophilic and/or thermophilic starters
  4. Let this sit for 1 hour keeping the temperature between 86-88F (30-31C)

Step 4: Add Rennet and Wait

Depending on the type of rennet you are using the directions may be different. But the outcome should be the same. Rennet causes the milk to coagulate and form curds. I prefer the tablets simply because the shelf life is longer. In the freezer they can last up to 5 years. The liquid form does not last as long but some people swear by it over the tablets.

  1. Add the rennet by whatever instructions are included. Tablets you add to water to dissolve and then pour into milk
  2. Let this set for 45 minutes keeping the temperature between 86-88F (30-31C)

Step 5: Cut the Curds

About now your house will probably smell a lot like a cottage cheese factory. In any other situation this is a bad sign but perfectly normal in this instance. Also cutting the curds is usually inappropriate in mixed company.

  1. Using your knife cut the curds 1/2" (1.27cm) squares making sure to cut all the way to the bottom of the pot.
  2. Slowly bring the temperature up to 102F (39C) this should take about 30 minutes do not heat them too fast. You can very slowly stir them to stop them from clumping but do not break them up.
  3. Keep the temperature at 102F (39C) for 20 minutes letting the curds gently settle into the whey.

Step 6: Drain the Whey

I'm not really sure how Ms. Muffet managed to eat this stuff, but I wouldn't.

  1. Line your colander with the cheese cloth and put in the sink or over another pot to collect whey
  2. Gently pour the curds and whey into the colander.

Now you can save the whey if you want and use it for a substitute for water in baking bread or pancakes. The whey is also good for your compost bin.

Step 7: Drain Some More

Pull up your cheesecloth and tighten it around the curds with a twisting motion. This will squeeze more whey from the curds and help them drain. Let them hang for up to an hour while the curds continue to drip.

Step 8: Cheese Balls

After the whey has drained you should be left with a very crumbly ball of cheese curds. Feel free to taste it at this point as it should taste like a very fresh young cheese like ricotta.

  1. Break apart the cheese ball and add a tablespoon of kosher salt to it. Make sure to mix it in thoroughly.

Step 9: Forming Cheese

There is a real art to forming cheese in the moulds. The weight pushes more whey from the cheese and helps it to bond together. As time goes by you need to increase the weight with each step. I recommend you do this in the sink to allow additional whey to drain out.

  1. Transfer your cheese curds to a mould lined with cheesecloth.
  2. Add 10lbs of weight for 15 minutes
  3. Remove cheese from mould, flip it over and press with 20lbs for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove and flip again and press with 40lbs for 90 minutes.
  5. Remove and flip and press with 50lbs for 8 hours (overnight essentially).

Step 10: Unmould Your Cheese!

This is it, the moment of truth. Open your mould and you should have a delicious looking cheese wheel. But don't eat it yet as it needs to age some and is still somewhat fragile so handle it gently.

Step 11: Optional- Brine Cheese

If you want you can soak your cheese in a salt brine overnight. This will add flavor, reduce acidity and help prevent bacteria. Completely optional, I have done it both ways and like the outcome for both about equally. Once you have brined your cheese wipe it off, let it air dry for a day or two and continue to the next step.

Step 12: Wax Your Cheese and Age It

Cheese wax provides a protective layer for your cheese that keeps off unwanted mold and bacteria and helps the cheese to retain moisture. Use a double boiler to melt the wax and coat your cheese with it. You will have to dunk your cheese into the wax several times to completely cover it with a thick layer of wax. I like to stick a label to the cheese and wax it right in place so I know the date and type of cheese.

Now place the waxed cheese wheel in an area to age for 4-6 weeks. The temperature should be 52-56F (11-13C) with a humidity in the upper 75-85%. Cool damp basements with limited light work great for this.

Step 13: Cutting Your Cheese and Eating It!

Now we cut the cheese (I'm juvenile).

Not all cheeses work well for all purposes. This cheese is great sliced up and melts ok for a panini.

Step 14: Closing Thoughts

There are a lot of different recipes and ways to make cheese and some experimentation is expected. You can add hot peppers, or soak the cheese in wine, or experiment with different cultures such as buttermilk. But any way you slice is home made cheese can be just as delicious as a store bought variety. The process is quite time intensive but rewarding.

Step 15: Resources

These are some resources I used to make cheese:

Cheese Challenge 2016

Grand Prize in the
Cheese Challenge 2016



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    29 Discussions

    While on vacation,we stopped at a cheese factory. It was a lot of fun to see the commercial process. They gave us fresh cheese curds to try. They squeaked when you chewed them. Do these curds squeak?

    3 replies

    As a matter of fact they do. That is one way to tell if they are "done".

    I have wanted to make cheese because the curds you buy at the store are not that good and don't squeak. I assume it is because they are not as fresh. Do all kinds of curds squeak or just some?

    Generally speaking all fresh curds will squeak. I suspect the non-squeaking nature of the store bought ones has more to do with their freshness than anything. But the process in general should create firm squeaking curds.

    Hi, that was a very nice instructable. Here in local stores in India, we get the normal cheese. For different cheese types like Mozarella, Ricotta, Parmesan you have to visit premium stores and its also expensive.

    I have a curd maker in which I put warm boiled milk and add 1 tablespoon of available curd. After 2 hours or so, I get curd with its whey.

    Hope you can you help me with the below points:

    1. Can I use this curd to make the cheese without using any additional cultures, only doing the brine process if required?

    2. How do I make ricotta cheese or any other type from this curd?

    thanks for your help and I have voted for you.

    1 reply

    I'm not sure this process would work for that. To my understanding curd makers are more for fresh yogurts and probably don't get to a high enough temperature for hard cheeses. Also cheese types are heavily dependent on the cultures used to make them. You would need some source of the cultures in order to make different types of cheese.

    I purchased a Rikki's cheese making kit a few years back. I pretty well only used it for mozzarella and ricotta, which can be made with the same milk you start with. (1 gallon) First you make the mozzarella, then from the whey, you make ricotta. The left over whey from the ricotta makes excellent pizza dough !!

    On a side note, I found (crazy as it sounds) 2% milk worked better for mozzarella tah homogenized................

    Your image reminded me of a joke I just heard: Why did Trump ban pre-shredded cheese? He wanted to make America grate again.

    1 reply

    lovely instructable.

    Couple of points, firstly I am surprised in your pictures it doesn't look like you cut up your curds very small as the whey comes out quicker if you cut them smaller, plus something to make with the whey is to almost boil it and the 'scum' that comes to the top can be strained to make a soft cheese like ricotta.

    1 reply

    Yes those curds are cut a little large. I did try to make ricotta once with the left over whey 'scum' as you put it. The yield was so low I felt it wasn't worth the time.


    1 year ago

    step 11, what is in the salt brine?

    how much salt, how much water?

    any spices?

    2 replies

    The brine is just salt and water. Keep adding salt to warm watter yntil no more will dussolve. I try not to over think it if/when I do brine. I have reused the whey for brine water as well. I have not noticed a huge difference.

    One normally adds salt to the curds before pressing OR one immerses the pressed cheese in brine for a period of time (depending on the recipe and size of cheese wheel). If you add salt to the curds and then immerse in brine you will get a very salty cheese which is not good.

    What is the cost of materials? Trying to figure out whats cheaper a block of cheese you make or buy. Not counting my time to make it.

    3 replies

    Come, come now! That's not at all the point.
    There are many reasons to make ones own cheese. My Mother made her own "basic cheese" (Armenian) not because it was necessarily cheaper (it was) but because it was soooo bloody good! What commercial product out there wasn't even close enough to flick a jab!
    "We do, because we can. We make because we want. We smile because we are satisfied."
    It's cool. I'm just goofing on you.

    Sorry to jump into discussion but I choose home made cheese anytime anywhere. It's better to know what it's in because you make it yourself and pay a little bit more rather to pay less and have all weird things inside. just my two cents on it!

    When i was keeping track of the costs it was about neck and neck with store bought cheese. The real variable is whatever the going rate for milk was. The other ingredients are fairly inexpensive.

    This is excellent pubcrawlingpb and good for you for sparking interest in home cheese making for a lot of people. I have been making cheese at home for a few years and before I got started I watched dozens of YouTube videos, 99% of which were little help. Then I came across a cheese-crazy Australian guy called Gavin Webber who has made a series of videos of making cheese in his kitchen at home. All very easy to follow and if anyone wants to start making cheese I suggest they go to YouTube and search "Gavin Webber". A good one to start with is Farmhouse Cheddar.

    In some cheeses (e.g. ricotta and mozzarella) the milk is curdled with acid such as vinegar or lemon juice. You get about 1 pound of cheese for every gallon of milk. You don't really need kosher salt: what you do need is iodine-free salt such as pickling salt or kosher salt or any other iodine free variety.

    1 reply