Starting a new kitchen project like DIY cheesemaking can be intimidating—but it doesn’t have to be! With a gallon of good milk, a few specific ingredients and supplies, and easy-to-follow recipes, anyone can go from zero to home cheesemaking hero in about 1 hour. Read on to learn more about the basic steps of home cheesemaking, what you need to make cheese at home, and the best cheesemaking kits for beginners.
Which Cheeses Can You Make at Home?
You can make just about any cheese at home with the right equipment and enough space, but the easiest cheeses to make at home are fresh cheeses. They don’t need the specific humidity and temperature levels required for long-term aging—in fact, they’re ready to enjoy as soon as the cheesemaking process is complete. Here are some of our favorite cheeses to make at home.
While traditional ricotta is made with the leftover whey from making other cheeses, we can make a similar cheese at home using whole milk. Our whole-milk ricotta recipe is one of the easiest to make at home and a great place to start your home cheesemaking journey.
Made with heavy cream instead of milk, this lush, spreadable, ultra-creamy cheese is a dream to use in sweet or savory applications. Spread mascarpone on toast, dollop it on desserts or roasted vegetables—the sky’s the limit.
Everyone’s favorite fresh Italian cheese, use your house-made mozzarella on an antipasti platter, caprese salad, or homemade pizza. This recipe takes just 1 hour with an easy-to-use home cheesemaking kit.
Mozzarella’s fancy cousin is filled with luscious stracciatella, or cream cultured with strips of mozzarella curd. Once you master mozz, try your hand at pillowy burrata.
What Ingredients Do You Need to Make Cheese at Home?
Commercial cheesemaking is an all-day affair, but making cheese at home can be quick and easy, especially with a cheesemaking kit. A kit will include all the ingredients you need to make cheese at home (except the milk, of course). That includes hard-to-find ingredients like citric acid and rennet that you can’t usually find even in the best-stocked grocery stores.
Home Cheesemaking Ingredients
- Milk. Use raw or pasteurized milk, but skip ultra-pasteurized (UHT) milk for cheesemaking. Its proteins won’t coagulate properly.
- Citric acid. A tart white powder made from citrus fruit that is used to acidify the milk.
- Rennet. Enzymes that work on a milk protein called casein to coagulate the acidified liquid milk into solid, gel-like curd.
- Salt. Salt extends shelf life and enhances the naturally sweet, milky flavors of fresh cheese.
What Equipment Do You Need to Make Cheese at Home?
You don’t need a ton of specialized equipment to make cheese at home. But you will need some basic tools that almost everyone has in their kitchen as well as a few special gadgets designed for cheesemaking.
Home Cheesemaking SuppliesThe everyday kitchen gear you’ll need for home cheesemaking includes:
- Stove. For heating milk, of course!
- Large cooking pot. This is where the magic happens.
- Slotted spoon. For stirring in ingredients and scooping curds.
- Chef’s knife. For cutting the curd when making mozzarella or burrata.
- Mesh strainer. For draining curds when making ricotta or mascarpone.
- Milk thermometer. For checking milk temperature. Digital is preferred, but analog works fine as long as it’s properly calibrated.
- Cheesecloth. Use this gauzy cotton fabric in layers to drain your curds and squeeze out excess whey.
- Basket molds. These small, round cheese molds are perfect for draining and shaping ricotta.
Home Cheesemaking Recipe
The Basic Steps of Home Cheesemaking
Once you have the basic ingredients and equipment for cheesemaking, you can make several different types of fresh cheese. Before trying your hand at the ricotta, mascarpone, mozzarella, and burrata recipes linked above, review the steps of home cheesemaking to get a handle on the process.
Raw or pasteurized milk
Large cooking pot
Heat the milk or cream. This creates the right conditions for acidifying and coagulating the milk into curd.
Acidify the milk. Commercial cheesemakers do this by culturing the milk, which converts lactose into lactic acid. At home, we add citric acid to the milk to lower the pH quickly and easily. Let sit for 10 minutes after adding citric acid.
Add rennet (optional). For cheeses like mozzarella and burrata, we add rennet to coagulate the milk protein casein into solid curd and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. For cheeses like paneer, ricotta, and mascarpone, skip to step 5.
Cut the curd (optional). Once the milk for rennet-set cheese has coagulated into a gel-like curd, it’s ready to cut. Use a long, sharp knife to cut the curd into one-inch cubes.
Drain the curd. Once curds have formed, it’s time to drain off the whey. Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a heatproof bowl. Carefully ladle the curds from the pot into the strainer. Stretch rennet-set cheeses like mozzarella and burrata after draining.
Season with salt (optional). Ensure that your cheese is flavorful and lasts longer by adding salt directly to the cheese (ricotta, paneer). Salt the stretching water for cheeses like mozzarella and burrata. Mascarpone does not need to be salted.
Serve and enjoy. The sooner you eat these homemade cheeses, the better they’ll taste. You can also store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
The Best Home Cheesemaking Kit for Beginners
If you’re just starting out on your home cheesemaking journey, the whole process might sound intimidating. But with the right equipment and ingredients—plus a few good recipes—you can go from cheesemaking newbie to enjoying homemade cheese in less than an hour.
The easiest way to start making your own cheese is to purchase a cheesemaking kit. We recommend the Farmstead Italian Fresh Cheesemaking Kit, which has everything you need to get started.
Each Farmsteady kit includes the citric acid, rennet, and salt you need to make 8 batches of delicious fresh cheese, plus specialized equipment like a milk thermometer, cheesecloth, and basket mold. All you need to do is buy good-quality milk and get ready to get your hands curdy!
Even better, we’ll send you links to quick, easy recipes for making ricotta, mascarpone, mozzarella, and burrata cheese at home with the purchase of each kit. And if you want someone to walk you through the process, you can always sign up for a virtual class to see how it’s done.
Home Cheesemaking Kit ReviewsThere are a lot of cheesemaking kits out there. The Farmsteady kit is our favorite not only because it has all the ingredients and equipment you need for home cheesemaking, but also because our customers love it, too!
We spoke with two satisfied Farmsteady cheesemaking kit users about their experience with the kit, which you can read here. Ready to get your own? Head to our online store to snag yours and start your fun and delicious new hobby!
Have you tried making cheese at home? Tag us @cheesegrotto on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and let us know!
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