Before embarking on your cheese-making venture, check to ensure you have all the equipment and ingredients at hand and always ensure everything is clean and sanitised before starting.
Apart from a few specialist items, you probably already own most of the equipment needed to make your own cheese or can readily buy the equipment from local shops:
- Two large saucepans that will sit inside one another (this will be used to heat the milk)
- A stove top or other type of hot plate
- A container for your milk (an eight to ten litre container will provide enough milk for approximately one kilogram of cheese, depending on the type of cheese)
- Spatula or long-bladed knife for cutting the curd
- Slotted spoon for draining the curd
- Measuring jugs and cups (from a 50 ml medicine cup to a one litre jug)
- Small syringes for measuring rennet and calcium solutions
- A new, clean paintbrush (for painting coatings on hard cheeses before waxing)
- A colander or unused cotton cloth for draining soft-curd cheeses
- A rectangular metal cake rack for cutting the curd
- An accurate kitchen thermometer (it should have a scale of -10 to 110⁰C with 1⁰C graduations)
- A reliable timer
- Household-grade sanitiser
- A container with a plastic cake rack at the bottom for storing your cheese.
Baskets (or hoops)
These come in a vast range of shapes and sizes suited to all types of cheese and are used to drain the whey and shape your cheese.
Sometimes referred to as a cheese bandage, cheese cloth is wrapped around rinded cheese to help develop the rind. The cloth stays on the cheese throughout the maturing process. Cheese cloths can also be used to help with the draining and pressing stages of the cheese-making process.
A comprehensive range of specialist cheese-making equipment is available from our Products section.
There are a few basic ingredients for all cheeses and some extra items required for specific cheese varieties. Importantly, always ensure you use quality ingredients to get the best results.
Obviously, the most important ingredient for cheese-making is un-homogenised milk. If you have access to milk direct from a farmer, this is perfect. If not, don’t worry many supermarkets stock un-homogenised milk in their dairy sections which is just as good for cheese-making.
The other ingredients for your cheese recipe can include:
Also known as the culture, starters are harmless bacteria added to milk as the initial step in the cheese-making process. The type of starter you use will determine the taste, aroma and texture of your cheese. In some cases, the starter will generate carbon dioxide gas to create ‘holes’ in the cheese. Generally speaking, there are two main categories of starters:
- Mesophilic – used for making cheeses with cooking temperatures 39⁰C and below.
- Thermophilic – used for making cheeses with higher cooking temperatures. These starters are used in mostly the Italian-style cheeses.
The active ingredient in the rennet is an enzyme. Traditional cheese-making uses calf rennet which is derived from one of the stomachs of a milk-fed calf. Vegetarian (or microbial) rennet can also be used and is just as effective.
There are two types of mould spores:
- Blue (Penicillium roqueforti) used for blue cheeses
- White (Penicillium candidum) used for making Camembert and Brie.
Lipase is an enzyme used in making some types of cheeses to break down the fats.
Cheese-makers will add a calcium solution if the milk used lacks calcium. It helps with the coagulation of the cheese and helps set the rennet.
Cheese wax is used to protect some cheeses to prevent them from drying and to stop unwanted bacteria getting into the cheese during aging. Waxing works best if a plastic cheese coating is firstly applied to the cheese.
Plastic cheese coating
This is an emulsion especially designed for using on cheese and applied using a clean paint brush.
See our Ingredients page for more information.