SOFT CHEESE-MAKING TECHNIQUE

Soft cheeses are made by coagulating milk (and/or cream) with an acid i.e. lemon juice or vinegar (or cheese starter). Rennet is sometimes used to firm the curd. The curd is collected in muslin (cheesecloth) and drained to remove the whey.
    
BASIC SOFT CHEESE-MAKING TECHNIQUE:
1. Warm milk.
2. Add cheese ingredients.
3. Rest mixture to develop curd.
4. Collect curd, strain through cloth to discard liquid (whey).
5. Salt and serve fresh soft cheese – or press, salt and then serve firm cheese.
     
BEFORE YOU BEGIN: STERILISE EQUIPMENT
Sterilise all of your cheese-making equipment before you begin: you can sterilise using a hot wash in your dishwasher, or rinse with boiling water before use.
     
ADD CALCIUM CHLORIDE TO MILK
Dilute the calcium chloride in ¼ cup of filtered water then add into your milk.
    
WARM MILK
Heat the milk to the required temperature.
    
ADD “GOOD BACTERIA” (CHEESE STARTER CULTURE)
Different starter cultures require different temperatures, so follow your recipe carefully. Cheese varieties are made using different starter cultures. Lactic acid bacteria convert the milk’s sugar (lactose) into lactic acid.
    
ADD RENNET
Rennet is mixed into filtered water and then added at a certain temperature (follow your recipe for directions). Rennet causes the milk to curdle – joining the fat, protein and other milk solids together to form a solid curd – as the mixture is kept at the recipe’s temperature for a certain period.
    
CHECK FOR A CLEAN BREAK
The curd should have a thick yoghurt consistency (if not, wait a little longer). With various fat content of milk, some batches may take longer than others. Cut into the curd with a knife and lift slightly. If the edge of the curd splits easily (not too soft) then it is ready to proceed – if not, wait another 5 minutes and try again.
    
CUT THE CURD
Cut the curd into even pieces to dispel extra whey.
    
DRAIN THE CURD
Line a colander with your cheese cloth, and carefully collect the curds. The whey can often be used to make whey ricotta or for cooking your pasta in, or using in vegetable fermenting recipes. Drain the curd for a few minutes.
    
HANG THE CURD (SOME RECIPES)
Some soft cheeses are hung in the cheesecloth to expel extra whey and to thicken the cheese consistency. Other cheeses may be pressed instead.
    
SALT THE CURD
Add flavour and remove excess whey by salting your cheese with some cheese salt.
    
PRESS THE CURD
Firm your cheese by pressing in a mould or basket.
    
ENJOY YOUR HOMEMADE SOFT CHEESE!
   

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