Monday, February 21, 2011

So You want to be a Cheese Maker: Part Seven

What I have purchased to support my cheese making habit: Part Two.

You will notice the box on the right side of the picture. This is what I call my “Freezer Box”. It is actually a sectioned container for small hardware parts and was only $4 at WalMart (Rubbermaid Storage Case 151200) . As I began acquiring cultures and other items which should be stored in the freezer it was soon apparent that I needed something other than plastic bags to keep them in. Not only was it inconvenient searching all the little pouches amid all the other freezer residents, they sometimes froze to the bottom of the freezer. This box was actually my third attempt at keeping these items together. First there was a quart sized plastic bag, then a small sealable plastic food container. As you can see the packets can be kept visible and each item is easily identifiable.  I can now go to the freezer and remove just the packets I need for the current cheese making project without exposing the rest of the cultures from any thawing.

Below is a list of what I would consider a fairly complete “Beginner’s Cheese Making Kit” for someone who wants to get everything at one time.
Rennet tablets $6.50.  My first 10 tablets came in the “30 minute Mozzarella and Ricotta kit”. I have since purchased the Tablet Vegetable Rennet -1 box (100 Tablets) at $39.95 to restock my own supply and to provide to people who have attended one of my Cheese making parties. Since they last 3 years in proper storage, I’m not too worried about them going bad before I have a chance to use them.
Citric Acid $5.95 C13N.  Also included in the Mozzarella kit, Citric acid does not need to be stored in the freezer but should be keep in a sealed container or zip lock plastic bag to prevent moisture from getting into the package.
Lipase L3 $6.95  I purchased the mild lipase originally to add flavor to the Mozzarella. One important note is that when using lipase in mozzarella you need to increase the amount of rennet to ½ tablet or your curds will be not be so good. Lipase is used in many of the Italian cheeses such as Romano, Provolone, Feta, and others. The Capilase Lipase Powder is the very sharp version of this enzyme.
Calcium chloride C14 $4.95  This is an essential ingredient for making hard cheeses from store bought milk. Added to the milk prior to adding the culture this aids in setting the curds firmer and makes cutting the curds easier. Storage: no refrigeration required
Mesophilic cultures C101 $5.95 This package contains 5 direct set culture doses for making a variety of hard cheeses including cheddar, Gouda, Colby and a number of others. You could also purchase this as a part of a “Hard Cheese Sample Pack” $14.95 which includes the thermophilic culture pack (for Parma and Romano cheeses) and a 5 pack of Buttermilk Culture.
Yogurt cultures $14.95 I would call this pack an option. If you don’t like yogurt, or yogurt cheese, then skip this one. Containing one pack of Bulgarian starter culture and 5 packets each of a tangy and a sweet direct set cultures, this sample pack lets you discover which one you like best and you can reorder the one you prefer. My personal favorite is the Y-5 “Sweet” yogurt because the flavor intensifies as it drains and becomes yogurt cheese. The “Tangy” becomes stronger than I like. 
Cheese cloth U1 $5.95 Cheese cloth is included in the kits you can purchase and you should not rely on the common cheese cloths sold in most grocery or hardware stores. They often have a larger weave and the poor quality does not hold up to washing.
Butter muslin u2N $5.95 is used to drain many of the soft cheeses including ricotta and mascarpone. I have noticed that many of the recipes call for a double layer of butter muslin to drain the cheese. I have started to use a 130 thread count sheet to make napkin sized squares to drain many of the cheeses I make, and they work very well.
 4.5” mold M3 $15.95  If you purchased “Home Cheese Making” by Ricki Carroll, you will want this mold. All of the two(2) gallon recipe hard cheeses have been tested and calibrated for this particular mold. If you want to make larger batches you not only have to increase the size of the mold but also the pressing weight.
2 reed mats SM1 @$3.00ea  = $6:00 I recommend two of these reed mats so when you are air drying your hard cheese you can rotate the mats so they don’t stay wet and start growing mold. While the cheese is sitting on one you can sanitize and dry the other. It works for me anyways.
Cheese salt  $2.95 For using in making cheese you need to have a salt that melts easily and doesn’t contain iodine. This is it. I use this when adding salt to curds and mixing it in.  However for brining I use Morton’s Kosher salt because it is a whole lot cheaper.
Cheese Wax- 1 lb 5.50 Naturally if you are making hard cheeses which require waxing then you have to have at least a pound of it and a cheese wax brush $7.95

$95.50 Sub Total
$14.05 Shipping to Florida (Your cost may vary)

A couple of other items in my box include:
Crème Fraiche (DS) $5.95 If you never had good crème fraiche, try making it with half and half and this culture. You will be amazed by the difference.
Sour Cream (DS)-5 packets $5.95 Here again is a classic example of how making it fresh is so much better than store bought. Turning a quart of light cream or half and half is as simple as heating it to 86 F, adding the culture and letting it sit on the kitchen counter for 12 hours. No additives or preservatives.
Fromage Blanc(DS)-5 pack I liked this one so well that I purchased 5 packs of 5 when they had a clearance on short dated products. If you look back on my previous blogs you will find several blogs dedicated to Fromage Blanc including last weeks strawberry heart. 

Now before you go out and buy all the the above, plus the hardware from last week: STOP!!! Get the book first, look it over and decide what cheeses you want to make. Then, look at what is needed to make those cheeses. Then, order what you need. 

Have a great week
George "the Cheesy Geek"


  1. Cheesy Geek,
    I do the blog for New England Cheesemaking Supply Company (I think you are a Follower). Thank you for all the credit you give us in your posts! I would love to do an article about you if you want to contact me- Thanks again.

  2. I LOVE your freezer box and want to get one just like it. What a great idea, thanks you for sharing.

  3. The box is a Rubbermaid Storage Case #151200 and I found it in the hardware department at Wal Mart