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Make your own cheese!

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First, I would like to thank all of you for your condolences and comforting in the loss of my beloved tomatoes. I am doing my best to move on from such a tragedy.

I have been trying lots of new things, many of which take several days to make. I bought my first ever fresh figs at the farmer’s market and made some spectacular Spiced Fig Preserves. I also have been experimenting with making a whole wheat sourdough starter…the jury is still out on this one. But the one thing I have been most excited about is making my own cheese!

That’s right. I said cheese.

It all started when I was at the thrift store a couple of weeks ago and came across a 1980 edition of Good Housekeeping Cookbook. We have a much more recent edition that has seen better days and a lot less duct tape. Since the condition of our current cookbook was in such bad shape, I purchased the 1980 version for a big $2.

Here’s the thing about “vintage” cookbooks. They have some fascinating recipes in them. I have never seen so many salmon pates in the shape of fish

or more food put in a ring mold with gelatin ( the Perfection Salad is my favorite)

but every now and then you come across some really good stuff. Like how to make your own cheese.

This cheese is really more of a cheese spread. It’s soft and tangy and is a great vessel for all kinds of flavors. The original recipe called for dry Italian seasoning and a layer of black pepper on the top, but I thought I would update it with some fresh herbs, lemon and garlic. You can do whatever kind of flavors you want with this. Be creative! This takes about 5 days, so plan ahead!

Lemon Basil Cheese Spread

1 pint of half and half
1 T buttermilk
1 t. salt
2 T minced basil
1 garlic clove minced
1 T lemon zest
1 t. black pepper

In a 2quart saucepan, heat the half and half to about 95 degrees and add in the buttermilk.

Pour into a bowl and cover. Let sit in a warm (80-85) spot for 24 to 48 hours until mixture is yogurt like.

Line a colander with double folded cheesecloth and place in a sink. Pour the soft curd into the colander and let it sit and drain for 10 minutes.

Bring the ends of the cheesecloth together and tie onto a wooden spoon. Suspend the cheese over the colander and bowl.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18-24 hours ( You could just let it drain in the colander in the fridge, but I think it drains better this way).
Spoon the curd into a bowl and discard the liquid ( whey). Stir in seasonings and herbs.

Line a small plastic clamshell ( the kind for produce with the holes in the bottom)

with cheesecloth and spoon the cheese mixture in.

Place the container on a wire grate over a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 18-24 hours. Carefully unmold the cheese and serve!

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. I haven't had any problems finding a warm spot since it's 102 degrees here. But if it's not hot where you are, I would think on top of your stove or in front of a sunny window would be good. I'm sure room temperature is fine it might just take a little longer to separate out.

  2. This looks so creamy and delicious! I have yet to take on the challenge of homemade cheese, but this is pretty tempting.

    When I need a warm spot for dough to rise, I use my microwave. It is enclosed and stays pretty warm as it is above my oven!

  3. I made Indian Paneer cheese twice last month and this is up next. I think some Ricotta and Mozz are up after that.

    So beautiful.


  4. I have been thinking about trying to make my own cheese one of these days! Yours looks great! Impressive!

  5. I haven't read that book. I just finished The town that Food Saved, I'm starting The Omnivore's Dilemma, I'll be sure to put that one on the "to read" list. Do you have it? Can I borrow it? 🙂

  6. Homemade cheese is soooo good! I recently made my own mascarpone and let me tell ya, not only is it so much more delicious than the store varieties, but the price can't be beat. I can't wait to try your recipe it sounds delicious!!

  7. I really want to try it -I found directions for mozzarella one day and haven't been able to get this out of my mind.

    I have a giveaway on my blog is anyone is interested for 40.00 to csn stores- drop on by and comment to enter.

  8. You really out did yourself. I'd love to try this. There was another blogger that was making a lot of different kinds of cheeses last winter; but you make it seem so simple. I am going to try this when the weather gets cooler.

  9. congrats on making cheese! it looks tasty. you can always save the whey and use it for many things in the kitchen, even fermenting grains.

  10. Do you think you could start with yogurt? Essentially that is what the first part of the recipe is, and since I have a yogurt machine, it would take care of the temperature issue. Once I've made the yogurt, I could just go from there to make the cheese. It looks delicious by the way!

  11. I guess you could try it. The end result is a consistency that is close to cream cheese, so I would shoot for that.

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Jodie is a wife, mom, writer and lover of chickens and gardens. She runs her family's winery by day and cooks and writes by night.

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