Raw Milk Hard Cheese

Previously published Sept 6, 2010 Grainews.

Imagine being able to serve your guests a cheese platter made from cheese you made yourself in your own kitchen.

That is exactly what we do on our farm and it is time to get started because for really tasty Christmas cheese it needs to be aging by the end of September.

The lack of your own farm fresh milk doesn’t have to stop you because with the addition of Calcium chloride store bought milk can be used. The desired concentration of CaCl2 is usually specified as 0.02%. This would mean adding 3.6g CaCl2 to 5 gal of pasteurized milk. You should completely dissolve the CaCl2 in about 1/4 cup water before adding it to the milk. Add it slowly with thorough stirring. It can be purchased in a liquid form that is more user friendly than the crystals. This procedure will firm up the curd and allow pasteurized milk to make a tasty homemade treat.

To make cheese you will need a large stainless steel pot, a large colander, a seamless stainless steel spoon, a long bladed knife, a thermometer, a mold, cheesecloth (butter muslin), cultures, rennet, Celtic sea salt and milk. I purchase most of my supplies from Glengarry Cheesemaking 1-888-816-0903. My favorite website for learning beginner techniques is Fankhauser .

The first cheese I made was Cottage Cheese from cow’s milk. It is a far superior product than what can be purchased at the store and I was blessed to be able to learn from a lady with years of experience.

Cottage Cheese

Batch size: 1 gallon
Expected Yield: 4 cups
Milk Source: Skimmed cow milk (if you don’t use a cream separator just skim the cream off with a ladle), or skim pasteurized with calcium chloride added.
Production time: not sure

Warm the milk to 72F. Add 2 ounces homemade yogurt to the warmed milk and let it ripen on the counter with the lid on till it is thick. It will resemble yogurt. (Once you have a batch you can freeze some ice cube trays of this before it is cooked and use those instead of the buttermilk or yogurt). The curd is then cut into one-quarter inch curds and the temperature slowly raised to 112F. This should take about twenty minutes. Cover the pot and let rest for 30 minutes. Pour the curds and whey through a colander then let the curds drain till they are firm enough to stir. Salt the curd and let it drain till desired dryness. This cottage cheese can be used for eating fresh or cooking.

Recipe for Chikousky Cheese

Batch size: 2 gallons
Expected Yield: 2 pounds
Milk Source: Whole milk, raw or pasteurized (goat or cow)
Production time: approx 3.5 hours till pressing starts

Warm the milk to 86F in a large stainless steel pot. Add one-quarter cup mesophillic culture (cultured commercial buttermilk can be used). Let the milk ripen with the lid on maintaining the 86F temperature for 45 minutes. In the mean time prepare your rennet by diluting one-quarter teaspoon in one-quarter cup of cool water. At the end of the 45 minutes stir in the rennet mixture with an up and down motion allowing the cream to be stirred back into the milk and the rennet to be thoroughly mixed. Place the lid back on your pot and maintain the temp at 86F by placing the pot into a sinkful of 86F water. The milk should set for 45-60 minutes.
Test the curd for a clean break by running a sharp knife through it. If it leaves a clean line it is set. Proceed to cut the curd with a long handled knife into one-quarter inch square curds, while still in the pot.
Let the curd rest, still maintaining 86F temp, for another 10 minutes. This allows the whey to start to be released from the curd.
Slowly raise the temp (should take about 20 minutes) to 100F, stirring often to keep the curds from matting.
Hold the temperature at 100F for a half hour, stirring frequently to avoid matting.
Strain off the whey till you can see the curds.
Maintaining the 100F temperature let rest another 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
The curds will have shrank significantly by the end of the second 30 minutes and be ready to strain.
Working quickly so the curds don’t chill finish straining the curd through the colander. Salt them with 2 tbsp Celtic sea salt. Then pour the curd into the awaiting cheesecloth lined mold. Wrap securely and press. We do not have a cheese press, we use my sons weightlifting plates balanced in a corner of my kitchen counter. Flip the cheese between weight changes.

15 pounds for 10 minutes.
30 pounds for 10 minutes.
40 pounds for 2 hours
50 pounds for 24 hours.
At this point the cheese is removed from the mold, placed on a clean plate and covered with a clean dish-cloth. I then place it in my fridge (cheese should age at 50F so this is a bit cold) and hide it from my family for three months. During the three months it must be flipped daily so it dries on all sides. If it develops mold we dampen a cloth with vinegar and rub it off.

Since we started making cheeses the hardest part has been to keep them hidden till they are old enough to eat. This hobby has made it very possible to keep our oversupply of milk in the summer (which is highest in vitamins and minerals from pasture) through the winter. A little taste of summer everyday.


  1. I’m just curoius to know if anything can be done with the whey. I used to feed it to my chickens until I saw it gave them the scours, and then I learned it was a big no-no from listening to the Chicken Whisper on blog talk radio last year. Maybe there’s nothing to do but throw it in the compost?

    Sue · Jun 25, 06:46 AM · #

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