Friday 30 April 2010

Cheese making for beginners!




The fault lies purely with a colleague. You see, she happened to have a pint, well litre, of full fat, rich and creamy, Jersey and Guernsey cow milk, or should I say cream? Being used to skimmed milk, I was desperate to at least try some of this but needed a valid excuse really, as I couldn’t justify simply drinking a whole litre of this divine looking stuff.

So, what to do with it? My thoughts happened to coincide with Linda of withknifeandfork ‘s latest blog post ‘In Season: Cheese and Onion’, one of the idea being to cover homemade curd cheese with said leaves and flowers.



She used an adapted recipe from the Casa Moro Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark, and I again adapted this via a River Cottage recipe, combining the two.

I used:

750ml milk – I used full-fat ‘posh’ stuff from nice cows!

1 tbsp essence of rennet

1/2 tsp salt

Don’t forget, this is already diluted, and can be bought in the baking department of Waitrose! Thanks again Linda!


Warm the milk to between 32-40C. I don’t have a cooking thermometer, so tested it on my wrist and when it was slightly hotter than my wrist, continued as below! Not very scientific I know but it seemed to work!

Remove from the heat, add the rennet and stir. Then cover and leave in warm place for the curds to set. You’ll know they’re done, as when you stick a skewer or knife in, it’ll come out clean. This should happen between 30 minutes and an hour.

Next, cut the curds into a ‘grid’ and leave for another hour or so.



Pop it all into a cheese-cloth, or a piece of muslin and set over a bowl overnight so the whey to fully drain. Again, I used a clean j-cloth in a sieve! And again, it seemed to work!

When the curds are no longer watery, mix with the salt, then push into a ramekin or mould, and leave in the fridge to take its shape.



I felt it really needed the salt to give it some flavour as it’s a very mellow cheese. If you’re using it in cooking or stirring into some hot pasta, then salting the food would be enough rather than the cheese as well. I chose to make 5 very small ‘individual’ portions, each rolled in a different flavour, Just to see! So, we had one in freshly ground pepper, one in chilli flakes (!), one in freshly cut chives, one in other freshly cut herbs, and one left plain, so we could actually taste the cheese itself. To follow etiquette, before just diving in, which was what I really wanted to do, I arrange them from mildest to 'hottest’ so no flavours would be lost: plain, herbs, chives, pepper and chilli. The chilli flakes ‘pat’ ended up bitter and slightly chewy (?), the plain one was just that, and the chive one was half-way to Boursin – now I need to read the ‘real’ ingredients to see what to add! My favourite was definitely the pepper coated, while the OH decided upon the mixed herbs one, particularly liking the lemon-thyme flavour. I was also pleased I added in the salt too. They were all washed down with a large glass of red, needless to say. Well, you can’t just have cheese: the wine improves the flavour surely?!


  1. These cheeses look fantastic and your photos look great. I have some rennet from Waitrose knocking about somewhere. I had lunch with Linda today too!

  2. Sarah - get that Rennet found and get cheesing! I want to work in London so I can come for lunch too!


Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
Merlotti x

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