I do my best to summarize answers to common questions and troubles here. If you don’t find what you need, post your questions or email at urbancheesecraft (at) gmail.com and I will address them. Thanks for stopping in!
Here’s the most important tip….ready? Don’t toss out cheese just because it didn’t turn out as expected. If it tastes good and smells fine…then rename it and use it! It is probably a legit cheese, just not the one you set out to make. If you love it; note the conditions, milk used, temps. etc. so you can reproduce it!
Be creative and resourceful. Most cheeses are happy “mistakes” and discoveries made out of need anyway.
Enjoy the tao of cheese.
Steps 16 and 17?! My mozzarella recipe gives hot water bath instructions in a box that say to follow steps 16 and 17 but the recipe ends at step 12. Am I missing a page?
Sorry about that, I simplified and shortened the recipe recently but missed these numbers in the edits. It refers to steps 11 and 12, so you have them, they’re just no longer 16 and 17. Hope this makes sense, I will be changing this before the next printing.
My mozzarella is like cream cheese. It never firmed up after I microwaved it.
Every time I hear this it ends up being that the curds were overheated. This will happen if you microwave them for 2 minutes all at once and even if you do 1 minute, drain, then 1 minute again (I hear this most often). Don’t take shortcuts. The instructions say 1 minute, knead/drain, 35 seconds knead/drain and 35 seconds, stretch and shape. Sometimes you may not need the last 35 seconds. It’s important to follow these instructions or you may end up with cream cheese. Once in a while, depending on the power of your microwave, you may need another 35 seconds, this is fine. If you shaped half of the curds successfully, remember to reduce the heating time for the half batch, just 17 seconds or so. It may take a couple of tries to get to know your microwave.
My milk never formed a curd or the curd was whimpy!
First off, small curds are okay with the chevre kit and with ricotta in general BTW. If you use fine cheesecloth to strain, you should end up with great cheese. If you weren’t after ricotta or goat cheese however and your curds never progressed, you probably have ultra-pasteurized or ultra-heat pasteurized milk on your hands. From what I understand dairies are not required to label this milk as such and you should know that even organic dairies are doing this to the milk for longer shelf life. I have found my good milks by trial and error and have actually called customer service phone lines to ask. This has worked well for me. Just a note though, I have found most of my “errors” still resulted in a cream cheese that was nice.
My cheese tastes like cooked feta and feels rubbery in my mouth (it’s also crumbly)!- You may have boiled your milk. It’s important that you watch and stir your milk often (though not constantly). Try not to multi-task. This can also happen with mozzarella if you use the hot water bath method and make your water too hot. Over-handling mozzarella (can happen with kids) and over-stirring your cooking curds can also result in rubbery cheese (just stir the time specified in the recipe, if you want it firmer, stir more next time).
My mozzarella won’t stretch!
More than likely the temperature wasn’t right when you microwaved it or hot water bathed it. Or some of it stretched and the rest cooled. It helps to do this in batches; split the curds into 4 parts and stretch one part at a time. The curds can even be refrigerated before stretching so there is no need to rush. Aside from using a thermometer, you can test for stretchiness by taking a small marble sized ball and kneading it, if it is rubbery, gets shiny and stretches, you’re on your way!
My cheese tastes bland and not really like cheese I have ever had!
This is homemade cheese, not aged cheese so the flavor will be simple- we are not used to this anymore with cheeses like sharp cheddar, feta, and more so readily available. Also, use salt! When we add it at home it may seem like a lot but don’t be shy (add a little, taste, add more, taste etc.). Cheese salt is flaky/fluffy and so it’s not as “salty” as your usual table salt. If you are on a salt-restricted diet, try dry pepper flakes and dry herbs for more flavor. Be patient and have fun experimenting!
I think my thermometer is broken!
It can really mess up our cheese if your thermometer reads 60 DF when it’s really 110 DF! Luckily, more than likely it just needs to be recalibrated. I talk about this on the supplies page. All you need are some pliers and a pot of boiling water.
Goat Cheese Kit Info.
This kit makes an easy, beginner’s goat cheese similar to ricotta or other farmer cheeses. Chevre just means goat in French so it covers an endless variety of cheeses made of goats milk. Don’t expect your results to be like the aged French cheeses you may have encountered. This is an incredibly versatile kit however; use 1 teaspoon of citric acid and you get a creamy spreadable result you may be more familiar with, use 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons and the result will be from ricotta like to something like crumbly feta. They can all be shaped with the molds with slightly different outcomes. Check out the photos. The aged goat cheeses take a bit more experience, more time, rennet and sometimes cultures. I may offer more advanced kits in the future but for now, this is a great start. As you will see there are endless varieties you can make if you incorporate different spices, herbs and shapes. Have fun experimenting!
ps. if you have made other fresh cheeses with cow milk you may be expecting the curds to look like the same with goats cheese (big and chunky). For me, with pasteurized goat milk at least, the curds are tiny. You can still see the curdling happen when you add the acid but it is a lot more subtle. Just drain in the fine cheesecloth I include and you will end up with wonderful chevre. Just wanted to include that so you don’t dump it out. Always, always follow through, cheese has a magical way of transforming!
For success with the butter muslin/fine cheesecloth you get in your kits (90# if you’re curious) follow these simple tips:
first time, wash in warm water
rinse curds off with cold water immediately after you finish using it
wash as you would your dishtowels
soak for a few minutes in baking soda to refresh after a couple of uses
soak in boiling water for 5 minutes to sterilize or as some do, bleach in a weak solution
handle gently and it should last you a good while before it develops holes- it is fragile. Stock up when you’re ready http://www.urbancheesecraft.artfire.com. Cheers!