Cheesemaking 101: How to Make 3 Popular Varieties at Home

Cheese
Photo credit: iStock/VladimirGerasimov

As far as history can tell, human beings started making cheese around 8000 B.C. when sheep were first domesticated for use in agriculture. There are even artifacts of cheese on mummies that date back as early as 1615 BC. Today, you can find countless cheeses across the globe, but did you know you can actually make your own version of these delectable dairy products in your own kitchen?

From premade kits to cheesemaking courses, you can easily equip yourself to learn more about this age-old process. The best part is that several of the common household cheeses are easy enough to make in an afternoon. If you’re ready to dive into cheesemaking 101, three of the simplest varieties to make are mozzarella, ricotta and queso blanco:

See more:?9 Cheese Experiences You Need to Have in Wisconsin

mozzarella cheese
Photo credit: Pixabay/Katja S. Verhoeven

Mozzarella

Mozzarella is a widely beloved cheese, often found in Italian dishes such as pizza and pasta, that can be made at home in 30 minutes. You don’t even have to age this one – you can enjoy the fruits of your labor right away.

One of the reasons making mozzarella is so simple is that the ingredients list is short and sweet. All you need is milk, salt, rennet and citric acid.

Be sure to purchase a milk that is not ultra-pasteurized when you’re shopping for mozzarella making ingredients. Because ultra-pasteurized milk is processed at such high temperatures, the proteins break down to the point where it can’t be used to make a good curd.

After you whip up your delicious batch of mozzarella, the possibilities are endless. Try drizzling it with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add a touch of fresh basil for a simple appetizer, or serve it with penne and broccoli pasta.

If you don’t want to eat the finished product right away, pop it into a container immersed with whey and it will stay fresh for a few days.

Try it yourself:?How to Make Mozzarella Cheese At Home

ricotta
Photo credit: Jeffrey S. Otto

Ricotta

What comes to mind when you think about ricotta? Most people would probably say a hearty, filling lasagna dinner. Others may suggest cheesecake, pancakes or stuffed pasta shells. No matter how you enjoy your ricotta cheese, we can all agree that it’s one of the best ways to elevate an otherwise simple dish into something a little extra special.

Ricotta is still an easy enough cheese for beginners to attempt in the kitchen, but it does require a little extra diligence on the stovetop to prevent burning the curds. All you need to make ricotta is whole milk, buttermilk, salt, a cheesecloth and a candy thermometer. You probably have everything you need already!

Like mozzarella, you want to be sure to cover and store any ricotta you don’t use right away. Most people recommend eating fresh ricotta within two days, so save this cheesemaking experiment until you have a plan for how you’re going to use it. The last thing you want is for your homemade creation to go bad.

Try it yourself:?Homemade Ricotta Cheese

queso blanco
Photo credit: Pixabay/Christoph Schütz

Queso Blanco

Queso blanco may be one of the easiest cheeses a beginner can learn how to make. You don’t need any special equipment and you almost certainly have what you need in your pantry and refrigerator without any unnecessary trips to the grocery store.

All you need to whip up a batch of queso blanco is milk and vinegar – yes, it really is as simple as that. You can use a wide variety of vinegars depending on what flavor profile you prefer, but one with least 5% acidity is best.

One thing to keep in mind when making queso blanco without rennet is that you won’t be able to use it as a dipping cheese. But once the cheese is finished and chilled, you can slice or cube it and use it in pasta dishes, Indian recipes or as a snack with crusty bread or crackers. Not too shabby for a cheese you can make with just two ingredients!

Try it yourself: Beginner-Friendly Queso Blanco Recipe

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