Monday, January 10, 2011

Real Buttermilk Cheese

Justin and I are in love. Not just with each other, but with cheese. A love affair with cheese is a wonderful thing. And, of course, we can't just leave it at buying cheese. We want cheese made from raw milk. We want to continue our pursuit of being self-sufficient and make our own cheese. So .. we are.

We got the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. It is a highly recommended book when you desire to make cheese.

The first recipe we tried was "Real Buttermilk Cheese." This is made using real buttermilk, the product leftover from turning cream into butter, not the buttermilk you buy at the store. Since we had some of this on hand from butter making we decided to give it a whirl. Here is how it went.

It began with a little over 3 cups of real buttermilk. The recipe called for 1 gallon, but we used what we had and decided we'd be ok with less cheese as a result.

On the left, the buttermilk heating up on the stove-top. On the right, cheesecloth over the colander, which is sitting inside a bowl.

So, the recipe says to heat the buttermilk to between 160 degrees, at which point it will separate into curds and whey. If it fails to do so, heat it to 180 degrees.
The recipe had also advised setting the buttermilk out at 72 degrees for 24 hours to sour it some, but said that this step was optional. Since we had already let it sit out once (after it was made) we used the buttermilk straight from the fridge.

Where things began to go wrong.

The buttermilk didn't separate out into curds and whey. I began to wonder what the hell curds and whey even looked like because all I could keep thinking of was Miss Muffett and that damn spider. I came up with a rhyme of my own:

Little Miss Dreadie
sat oh so ready
waiting on curds and whey ..

Here is my first photo of the buttermilk once it had reached it proper temperature.

See how it just has skin on it?? This is all it would do.

I decided to let it cool down then reheat it. I did this a couple of times and all I got was skin.

I was taking notes as I went. Here they are:

This is taking a long time and I am beginning to doubt curds will form. It's been over 10 minutes and I've just got hot buttermilk.

2:27 - heated it back up to 180 and decided to then cover & turn off heat as we have an errand to run. It began boiling on me. I'm worried. But it is covered and the heat is off and we'll see what it looks like after my errand.

4:30 - No change. Heated it back up and got same results. Finally decided to add 1tsp rennet diluted in 1/8 cup water.

4:50 - Hanging it to drain. ~ 1 gallon was supposed to make 1 1/2 lbs. I used 1/4 gallon, so this might actually be the results I was supposed to get. That's a lotta friggin' whey leftover!

This was all I was able to get as far as any notion of "curds" go. I broke down and added rennet, which shouldn't have been needed since this was cow's milk and not goat's.

So, I drained it through and then hung it up. I usually have a basket hanging from a hook over my KitchenAid but I took it down and hung this up. It worked really well actually.

After letting it hang for 4 hours, this is what I got. You can see the container is a tiny one, but of course I only used 3 cups of buttermilk, so whaddya expect??

The "cheese" has the consistency of cottage cheese. The house had begun to smell like cooked milk so it's taken me until today (I made this on Saturday) to try and taste it without immediately tasting cooked milk. However .. it still tastes like cooked milk to me.

Perhaps if we had added herbs or honey or something like that it would taste better. But that will have to wait until next time.

Recipe Score:
Real Buttermilk Cheese - 1st attempt - Going to the chickens.

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