curds and whey

October 6, 2007

Seriously, I never really had any idea what curds and whey were…until I tried cheese curds in college, then I sort of got it. Now I really get it, because I MADE CHEESE. You heard me right, I made cheese, with milk, on my stove, in my kitchen.

I started my quest with this recipe and a brand spankin’ new insta-read thermometer. Unfortunately, the insta-read was totally jacked, which resulted in my adding key ingredients at the wrong temp, more than once. Which resulted in this:


Not too pretty. It’s like a freaky brainy thing.

Determined that failure shouldn’t be my only memory of attempted cheesemaking, I decided to try again. Having a good idea of what went wrong and why the first time around was valuable…and this time I succeeded! Go me!


My observations, which the first-time cheesemaker may find useful (now that I’m a wise second-time cheesemaker, lol):

  • It’s not a bad idea to half the recipe for your first attempt.
  • The recipe says your milk will start to curdle around 88 degrees. If it’s not curdling, don’t add the rennet; your thermometer is almost certainly jacked.
  • When you get to the part where you’re nuking the curds repeatedly, if they’re not stretching, keep nuking. I think I had to heat mine 5 or 6 times — then magically, the cheese was all smooth and stretchy like it was supposed to be.
  • Don’t be shy with the salt. Salt away.
  • Don’t discard your whey — you can use it to make ricotta. Just heat the whey to around 200 degrees, then scoop out the new curds that will form, and drain in cheesecloth for a little while…voila! Ricotta! (this also needs to be salted!)


Since I halved the recipe I didn’t get a whole lot of ricotta, but heck, I figured it was worth a shot!

Also? It’s very amusing to throw, “when I was making cheese…” into a conversation and watch the reaction. It launches you into a new level of crunch-dom. Heh. (And they thought you were crunchy before…)

I wasn’t sure how to store homemade mozzarella, so I cut half into chunks and put them in salted water (like you buy it at the store) and wrapped the other half. The next day I grated it and put it on pizza, but sadly it didn’t melt the way I felt it should. All in all, though, a success.



  1. Oh no, I can’t look! Pregnant woman looking at curds is not good!

  2. Hey, I came over from Carrie’s site. I may have to try making cheese! I’m always trying new cooking experiments. Thanks

  3. You became a part of the conversation this morning at work…I was bragging about how my vbf made her own cheese!! It definitely elevated you in the mind of deacon’s wife, whose daughters are very crunchy also šŸ™‚

  4. šŸ˜€

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