This is a soft cheese and it’s pretty easy to make. It’s similar to making yogurt, I buy my cultures from www.cheesemaking.com. If you buy the DVI Chevre cultures from this site, all you need to do is heat milk to 100 F add the packet, stir completely and allow the milk to sit for 24 to 36 hours or more in a cold oven or somewhere safe. You know the cheese is ready when it is firm. It will be the consistency of a lumpy yogurt. You then need molds to place the cheese in to drain all the excess weigh. Just a note, raw milk is great but if you are making any kind of soft cheese, I recommend you pasteurize the milk it first because soft cheese remains in a more natural state and bacteria that is already in the milk will just continue to grow and possibly make you sick so it’s better to just heat the milk up to between 160 to 200 F before working with it. You can actually add the Chevre culture as the milk is cooling down from pasteurization.
Once drained and molded the cheese should be placed in the refrigerator and be consumed within 10 days. This cheese can also be frozen for storage.
This is a recipe I found on cheeseforum.org, where you can also find other recipes, but this is the version I came up with after making their Romano recipe a few times. I don;t pasteurize raw milk used for hard cheeses for a few reasons. The milk is heated as a part of the cheesemaking process, the cheese will be soaked in a salty/ brine solution and then it will aged for a few months to a year. All of these parts of the hard cheese making process are already meant to inhibit or kill harmful bacteria.
For this recipe I use Thermo B culture that I bought from dairyconnection.com. This is not a direct set or DVI and so you must buy Rennet ( in tablets or liquid form) to add to the milk for it to coagulate.
Thermo B – 1/2 tsp per 2.5 gallons
Rennet – 4 drops per gallon
1. Heat 2.5 gallons of milk to 90 F
2. Add 1/2 tsp Thermo B culture. Allow it to dissolve on the surface for a minute or two before stirring it in.
3. Let Ripen for 15 minutes with pot covered and heat off.
4. Dilute 10 drops of liquid rennet in in 1/2 c of water. Add to milk and stir for 5 minutes.
Optional: add 1/8 teaspoon Caprilase to this rennet/water mixture for a sharper cheese, or cheese that develops a sharper flavor at a younger age.
5. Leave the milk to set covered with heat off for about one hour(45 to 90 minutes)
6. When you have a clean break, explained below, get a long knife and slice the coagulated milk into long thing strips making sure to carry the knife to the bottom of the bottom and from end to end. Make a bunch of these strips them repeat to make a crosshatch pattern. Now you have made very long to cubes. Now take the knife at and angle and beginning and one end swipe the knife into the mixture til you get to the other end. You are trying to cut these long cube into small ones. The goal is to have a pot filled with these uniformly sized cubes. This will make it easier to drain later.
7. After cutting the curd, allow it to rest for 15 minutes. This will allow to curd to sink to the bottom.
8. Slowly Heat the curd up to 115 F. It should take about 30 to 45 minutes to reach this temperature. Once reached, keep the curds at this temperature for about 30 minutes being sure to stir occasionally so that the curds don’t all mat together at the bottom of the pot.
9. Pour off the excess whey and drain the curds in cheese cloth or a fine mesh colander.
10. Place the curds in your mold and press:
Press at 10 lbs for 30 minutes
Then at 25 lbs for 3 hours
Finally at 40 lbs for 12 hours
Remove and flip the weigh each time you add weigh. This will create a more uniform wheel of cheese.
11. Once the cheese has the pressed it can be put in a salt solution to brine. I have no formula for the salt solution, I just add a lot of salt to water. If the water is cloudy, you probably have enough. Place the cheese in this solution and turn it every 6 hours if it is not fully immersed in the brine.
12. Remove the cheese from the brine, pat it dry and place it in the refrigerator on a wooden board or cheese mat to allow it to dry and develop a rind. Turn the cheese every 12 hours so that it dries evenly. After two weeks, the cheese can either be kept in the refrigerator or placed in a ‘cheese cave’ This can been a wine cooler set around 55 F or some other setup where the cheese can rest in controlled humidity, higher temperature (higher than your fridge) environment.
You can age cheese in the refrigerator but the conditions are not ideal. Cheese aged in the cold low humidity enivironment of a fridge will end up cracking. One can avoid this by keep it somewhat covered or in a high humidity area of the fridge like the crisper drawer. Actually this is what people say but it will still crack in there. So a wine cooler is the best option for aging cheese. That is unless you can build an actual cheese cave.