Saturday, January 2, 2010


So I mentioned this before, but Noah's Christmas present to me this year was a cheese making kit.  This particular one was for mozzarella and ricotta.  Before you pass me off as some nut, which indeed I might be, listen to my rational. 

One of the benefits we get here at camp is some basic food staples.  We just have to pay income tax on the price of the product.  And one of the things on that list is milk.  That is why I started to make yogurt this last spring.  Free milk, a 40 cent container of plain yogurt once, a little heat, and presto!  Yogurt for free!

Ok, so back to the cheese, but more about the yogurt a bit later.  This kit is from The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.  I was so excited when it came in the mail!  To be able to make cheese! 

And then the frustration set in.  Apparently, because most dairy companies need to be able to transport milk some distance and because it is more profitable for them for the milk to have a longer shelf life, they are pasteurizing milk at higher and higher temperatures.  For milk to be classified as Ultra Pasteurized, it has to be heated to 185 degrees.  This type of milk can last for weeks.  While the milk you get at the store probably isn't UP, (most organic milk is though, by the way) that normal gallon could be heated up into the 170s.  This destabilizes the whey proteins which keeps the calcium from bonding and making a good curd, and means you can't really make cheese with the stuff.  And that's the type of milk I found myself with.

Three batches and no fresh mozzarella later, I was thoroughly frustrated.  And then I found a dairy in Kalkaska, about an hour and a half away, that sold milk that had only been pasteurized to 145.  So, I splurged and bought a gallon (which by the way with the bottle deposit cost $10!!!).  I set about it this time, praying it would work, because if it didn't, well, there just went $10.  

New Year's Eve seemed an appropriate time to serve $10 cheese.  I settled the boys down for a nap and started.  The difference was night and day!  There were actually curds this time!  And I ended up with successful mozzarella!  It wasn't very pretty in the end, but oh it was good!  And I even made a few pieces of string cheese!  

In the process of learning more about milk than I ever thought necessary, I began to wonder if the reason my yogurt was so very, very runny was because of the high temp pasteurization.  My mom suggested I add a crusted tablet of acidophilus (a good bacteria found in yogurt and that you can buy in the vitamin section).  I added it went I pitched the starter in with the warm milk and man has it made a difference!  The yogurt is almost the thickness of the commercial kind!

So that got me thinking...maybe that would help with the cheese thing too.  And I noticed on some gallons of milk, there is the Pure Michigan slogan, so maybe that milk hasn't been heated to such a high temp because it's staying here in the state.  Hummm...maybe, just maybe I won't have to spend $10 to make cheese again.  We'll see.


  1. Ooh, sounds yummy!
    I've been making yogurt for the past several months as well, and while I've had some pretty thick batches, several others have been quite runny--I'm all for trying the acidophilus, in fact, I purchased some at the grocery store on my trip this morning.
    I was just wondering, what did you use to crush it up, and what type of milk (1, 2, skim)do you make your yogurt with, I'm pretty sure I saw both whole and 2 percent pictured...

  2. CHEESE! How fun!
    If you weren't preparing to get out on the mission field, I'd suggest you buy a cow.


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