The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Our first homemade cheese

Curds and whey

I made our first trial cheese! I suspect this is most people's first cheese because it can be made with normal kitchen supplies --- a quart of goat's milk, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, a jelly thermometer, a clean cloth, and a collander. Just slowly heat the milk to 180 degrees, add the vinegar, watch curds form, then strain through the cloth. Nearly instant cheese!

If you want, you can finish by adding salt, garlic, herbs, or other seasonings. I kept it simple with a dash of salt and found the cheese tasty, but nothing like the goat's cheese I've had from the store. Instead, this simple lemon cheese tasted more like mozzarella.

Acid cheese

The amount of whey to discard is rather daunting, though. A search of the internet turned up the fact that there are two types of whey --- acid whey (which this is) and sweet whey (from cultured cheeses). Sweet whey has scads of uses, but acid whey is less malleable. So I'll probably end up giving the whey to our animals (whichever one likes it best).

When I started researching cheeses, most people reported that they soon moved on from acid cheeses to cultured cheeses, and I can see why. Our lemon cheese was tasty, but I prefer the more complicated flavors of cultured cheeses. I guess it's time to bite the bullet and buy some cultures and rennet....

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Comment by e Wed May 13 07:29:18 2015
e --- Presumably creates a very similar cheese. Same reaction....
Comment by anna Wed May 13 08:36:18 2015
I use our leftover whey when making soap, smoothies, or pancakes.
Comment by Susan Wed May 13 11:24:48 2015
Whey will store for a long time in the fridge and has a lot of uses. We use it as a boost in lacto-fermenting, and also for soaking grains.
Comment by Daniel Wed May 13 14:58:52 2015
When I started making cheese I found this website pretty helpful.
Comment by Eric in Japan Wed May 13 17:21:52 2015
Eric --- Thanks! I'd been pointed there before, but hadn't really looked around. I suspect their beginner series of cheese lessons might be better than a book. :-)
Comment by anna Wed May 13 18:43:39 2015

I have perused the web once or twice looking for different uses for the whey we get when we make occasional batches of homemade yogurt. Seems like the primary use is in bread, which i can do just fine (there's a raisin-cinnamon-english-muffin bread loaf that i fall to pieces for, and it has very little sugar). But uses other than in bread/grain products seem harder to find. I did read once that you can cook veggies in the whey, but I can't image that's a flavor profile I'm looking for when I eat my veggies. Otherwise, I don't know what to do with it. I do agree it lasts a long time in the fridge.

Comment by jen g Wed May 13 20:04:24 2015
Several of you chimed in about whey, so I thought I should weigh in as well. :-) I ended up just bringing ours to the goats...and the first goat to get her head in the bowl (Artemesia, lowest goat on the totem pole) loved it so much that she refused to let anyone else near it. In 30 seconds, it was gone! So, if you don't have a use for it, sending it back into the goats is definitely very workable.
Comment by anna Thu May 14 09:01:41 2015

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