Friday, June 3, 2011

How can I make cheddar cheese without bought starter culture?

I want to make cheddar (and other) cheese at home. Can I do it without using bought starter culture? Would finely processed cheddar cheese be suitable? I already make yoghurt by mixing in some old yoghurt.How can I make cheddar cheese without bought starter culture?Hmmm. You could try it, but if you are a beginning cheesemaker, there are easier ways to start.

First of all, try using buttermilk as a starter.

Second, consider trying an easier cheese to start with. Cheddar needs to age for three to six months . . . so that means you don't know if you did it right until three months later! (And I've been intimidated by Cheddar's cheddaring process -- but I've made Gouda, Colby and Parmesan with varying degrees of success, and they all have long aging times.)

For a first cheese, I'd try cream cheese, Neufchatel or mozzarella. David Fankhauser has a wonderful site that tells you how to make these cheeses and more:

I still use his mozzarella with modifications.

Also, as a beginner, getting a starting kit from someplace like New England Cheesemaking will probably save you money in the long run. You won't make as many mistakes if you have the thermometer, explicit instructions, etc. I made my first Gouda from Rikki's hard cheese kit. (There are tips for beginners there, too.)

Culture is very easy to make. If you are already making yoghurt, you can make culture, and then make new culture from the old culture.

And if you still have your heart set on making cheddar, you might try one of the old farmhouse recipes.

BTW, here's a cool blog with pictures! Check out November for %26quot;The Reckoning%26quot; -- the outcome of her farmhouse cheddar.

Remember, cheesemaking is an art, and you won't necessarily make great cheese the first time. Keep practicing, keep experimenting, and you'll get better!