>> Milk

Notes For Newbies

Use these notes with caution. They were written by an enthusiastic beginner.

Boil all pots, utensils, cheesecloths, etc before making cheeses.

Pasteurise your brine to ensure there is no b.linens (unless you want a stinky cheese).

Books and Videos

The Art of Natural Cheesemaking: Traditional Methods and Natural Ingredients. The World's Best Cheeses - David Asher

Keep Calm And Make Cheese - Gavin Webber

Gavin Webber's YouTube Videos

Recipes - Don't Panic

Historically cheese was made without digital scales, thermometers and pH meters. So don't panic if your measurements are a bit off. You'll still get cheese. It's possible to recover from some epic mistakes. My recipe said to ripen the milk for 90 minutes. I left the gas burner on and boiled the milk for 90 minutes. My solution was to add citric acid and the milk curdled very well. I cooled it to 32 Celsius and re-added mesophilic bacteria and Penicillium candidum. The curds went into small moulds. One week later I had bloomy wheels rather like camembert. After a further week of ripening at 12 Celsius they were very acceptable. The texture was pleasant but not authentic.




Brevibacterium linens - Stinky. Washed-rind and smear-ripened red mould cheeses. Limburger and Port-Salut. Aroma attracts mosquitoes.

Propionibacterium shermanii - This makes eyes or the holes. This produces bubbles of CO2.

Bacteria (Mesophiles) - Ripen milk at 18°C to 32°C for up to 24 hours.

Lactobacillus acidophilus - Better flavour, texture, and a high level of proteolysis (protein softening during ripening.)

Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus - Feeds on lactose milk sugar to produce lactic acid. Produces acetaldehyde, a yogurt aroma.

Lactobacillus helveticus - Reduce bitterness and produce nutty flavours typical in Swiss cheeses.

Lactococcus lactis subsp. biovar diacetylactis - Buttery taste and texture. Produce lactic acid, diacetyl and CO2

Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris - One of the two commonest milk ripening bacteria.

Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis - One of the two commonest milk ripening bacteria.

Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris - Produces gas bubbles, and flavour compounds.

Bacteria (Thermophiles) - Ripen milk at over 32°C for up to 24 hours. 42°C optimum for yogurt.

Streptococcus thermophilus - Used to make yogurt by turning lactose, the sugar in milk, into lactic acid.

Bacterial starters on a budget - bacteria and moulds are expensive to buy.

Live Yogurt - contains thermophilic bacteria and can be used as a low cost starter.

Live Cultured Buttermilk - contains mesophilic bacteria and can be used as a low cost starter.

Live Kefir

    This contains both mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria and can be used as a starter.
    The ripening temperature determines which type dominates.
    Around 22 to 32°C, mesophilic will dominate.
    Around 42°C, thermophilic will dominate.
    Kefir contains other bacteria, moulds and yeasts, harmless or beneficial in cheese making.

Use a tablespoon to start a gallon.
Or use a lot more but add the rennet at the same time as the starter.
You don't want the milk to start curdling before the rennet is added.

Calcium Chloride
    Adds calcium back into milk that has been pasteurised to give stronger curds.
    It's not usually needed for raw milk or mozzarella.
    Using too much gives a bitter taste.

Curdle - Separate milk into curds and whey. See Rennet.

Acid - Use citric acid, lemon juice or vinegar. Hotter milk curdles faster. Never boil milk.

Culture - Use a bacterial culture to acidify the milk.

    Allow raw/unpasteurized milk to turn sour from naturally occuring bacteria in the milk.
    Pasteurised milk will not work. It'll just "go off" and be nasty.
    Using kefir starter with pasteurised milk is an approximation to clabbering.


The treatment of the curds after splitting the milk has a dramatic effect on the final cheese produced.

Cutting, heat, stiring, resting and salting change the curds. Mozzarella requires heating and stretching.

Some recipes wash the curds. Whey is discarded and replaced with water to reduce the acidity.

Very gentle treatment is usually best.

I once made rubber ball bearings by stirring too much. These curds would not knit together if pressed.

Curds made at a high temperature will not cave ripen because the bacteria are killed by the heat.


    Separate milk into curds and whey.
    Works above 30°C.
    Fastest from 40°C to 43°C but this is too warm for most cheeses.
    Use one drop in 4 litres for a soft cheece like chèvre.
    Use 2.5 grams in 4 litres for a hard cheese.
    Dilute or dissolve tablet rennet in 50 grams of cooled boiled water.
    Stir in for less than one minute before curds start to form.

    An enzyme used to break down milk fats
    Gives characteristic sharp tastes, aromas and velvety textures to Italian style cheeses.
    Old milk contains more lipase and may taste rancid.
    Pasteurised milk might need a lipase boost.
    Adding lipase to cows' milk makes it more goaty.

Milk - Desirability ranking ...


Raw - Not Pasteurised. Not homogenised. The best for cheese making.

Raw - Not Pasteurised. Homogenised.

Pasteurised - Not homogenised. Add CaCl2

Pasteurised - Homogenised. Add CaCl2. This is the commonest supermarket milk and it's fine for cheese making.


    This process alters the behaviour of rennet and cheese ripening.
    Fresh cheeses from whole milk might be successful.
    Avoid for ripened cheeses.
    Versions of this milk are marketed as energy drinks. These have been seriously tampered with. Avoid!

High temperature pasteurised - Avoid this milk.

Ultra-Pasteurised or UHT - More or less useless for cheese making.


Geotrichum candidum - White mould. Mushroomy flavour. Reduces skin slip.

Penicillium candidum - White mould. Bloomy rind on Brie, Camembert, etc.

Penicillium roquforti - Blue in mould in Roquefort, Stilton, Danish blue, Cabrales, Gorgonzola etc.

White Mould
    If white mould forms very fast in less than a week, the aging area might be too warm.
    Skin slip (a melted layer under the white mould rind) is more likely with fast mould development.
    When mould begins to form, move the cheese to a cooler place.
    Harmless pink mould indicates a too humid environment.
    Brown or light brown mould indicates a too low humidity environment.

Moulds and Bacteria on a budget - Use rind shavings liquidised in a little milk and sieved to remove lumps.

White mould can be harvested from the rinds of camembert, brie, etc. to make similar cheeses.

Blue mould can be harvested from the rinds or veins of any blue cheese to make similar cheeses.

Blue mould grows well on sourdough bread and can be frozen for later use.

Red bacteria can be harvested from the rinds of stinky, rind washed cheeses like Münster, to make similar varieties.

Frozen cubes can be stored. Add bacteria to the milk and divert some into ice cube bags. Culture for 12 hours, then freeze.


Melting and stretching cheeses need a pH of 5.2 to 5.4. As the ripening curds and whey approach pH 5.4, drain the whey and add the salt.

For squeaky cheese cook the curds at a higher temperature until the pH falls to 6.1 to 6.2. Drain and salt. The squeak only lasts a day.

Learn More About Cheese pH

Pressing Cheese

Many recipies do not specify the mould diameter and give pressures in pounds or kilograms. These instructions are scientifically meaningless and can safely be ignored. A good approach is to press once at low pressure. Invert the wheel of cheese and press again at a higher pressure. Finally discard the cheese cloth, invert the wheel and press a final time at a high pressure. Pressing curds works better if they are warm. Clear or slightly cloudy whey should drain. If the draining whey is cheesy, the pressure is too high. Fatty cheeses might expel fatty whey. This is not a problem. Once whey stops draining, further pressing is not useful. If your wheel is full of mechanical holes, this is not a problem but next time try pressing with warmer curds at a higher final pressure and perhaps for longer. Mechanical holes are normal for some cheeses. Extra time in the press might help the curds to knit together.

Whey - The liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained.

Acid or Sour
    Use a bacterial culture to separate the milk.
    This takes up to 24 hours.
    Or use citric acid, lemon juice, vinegar or another acid.
    Acid whey is low in fat and high in lactic acid.
    The cheese will be higher in fat and lower in lactic acid.

    Use rennet and sometimes rennet with a culture to make sweet whey.
    This takes up to an an hour or longer if a culture is included.
    Unripe sweet whey is high in fat and low in lactic acid.
    The cheese will be lower in fat and higher in lactic acid.
    Sweet whey can be used to make Ricotta if used fresh.

Uses for Whey
    Ricotta from sweet whey. The yield is too small from sour whey.
    Replace water in baking bread and cakes.
    Fermented vegetables.
    Make porridge.
    Brine meats.
    Flavour soups and stocks.
    Boil down the whey to make a tasty caramel - e.g. Prim, Brunost, Mynost, Gjeitost