Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Batch of Feta in the jars

     My Feta is in the jars with Italian Seasoning infused Olive oil. The smaller jars are half pints and contain 4oz of feta and the larger one is a pint and contains 8oz of Feta. Not bad, 20oz of finished feta out of one gallon of fresh goats milk. 

The olive oil (1 1/2 pints) was heated to 140F then, 2TBS of Italian seasoning was added. The oil cooled in a cover pan until it was at room temperature. Due to the distribution of this batch, I put 8oz of the cheese in the one pint and filled it with the olive oil. In the half pint jars I added 4oz of Feta then filled the jar with olive oil.

These will age 2-3 weeks at room temperate before being given to the lucky recipients. As they age whey continues to escape the confines of their curds and collects at the bottom of the jars. No problem for the cheese. It all tastes good in the mouth.

Btw these make great holiday gifts if you don't mind making a batch around Thanksgiving. (-:

the Cheesy Geek

Monday, July 30, 2012

Two New Cheese Makers. (-:

On July 28th 2012,  two new cheese makers were added to the list, Tracy on the left, and Candi on the right, (the Cheesy Geek in the middle). In a three hour session, we made Queso Blanco, Mascarpone, yogurt cheese (from yogurt made the night before), and the ever popular 30-minute mozzarella (which took closer to 45 due to slow curd formation).

Here, we were draining the yogurt to thicken it to the consistency of Greek yogurt. The ladies both took home a couple cups of fresh yogurt to enjoy.

The Queso Blanco being tied in cheese cloth to hang and drain. After making the Mozzerella, we divided both the Queso and Mozz for the ladies to take home to share with their families.

Tracy's favorite taste of the day was the key lime mascarpone made right in front of her.

 Candi's quote of the day. "You kept telling me it was so easy, but I really didn't believe it until today."

Until next time "Keep making the Cheese"

the Cheesy Geek

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cheese Making Party July 28th

On Saturday July 28th, I'm having a cheese making party at the house. We will make some Queso Blanco, Mozzarella, yogurt and mascarpone. I already have two confirmed and two maybes. I'm looking forward to having a great day making cheese and enjoying the company of some new cheese makers.

the Cheesy Geek

Friday, June 1, 2012

How I heat my milk without scorching?

Are you afraid of scorching your expensive fresh milk over direct heat? Do you put the burner so low that it takes forever to heat the milk to the proper temperature? Do you hate using a water bath in the sink because you have to drain some water out before you can add more hot water to achieve or mantain the proper temperature. Do you get distracted and can't always spend 5 minutes constantly stirring the milk? 
I answer yes to all of the above so I offer my solution to all of the above. I use a pot within a pot to heat and hold the milk at the right temperature. For two gallon recipes I use a 12 quart pot for the milk and put it in a 16 quart pot with enough water to cover most of the 12 qt pot. Tap water at 125-130F will raise the temperature of the milk from 45 F to 85F in about 8-10 minutes when put on a burner medium high. For a one gallon batch of Feta or Mozzarela I don't even need to turn the burner on to reach 86F. I turn the heat off when the temperature of the milk is 4-5 degrees below my target temperature. Leave it in the water bath to maintain the temperature if needed. I can turn the heat on if the temperature gets too low or when it is time to raise the temperature to the next level.
I hope this helps relieve your stress level when you are getting started making cheese.
The Cheesy Geek

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Cheesy Geek is now on FaceBook

I have decided to try using Facebook for  sharing my cheese making adventures and recipes. I have already moved the seven part "So, You want to be a Cheese Maker" series to the Notes section of the FB page. The Notes feature isn't very photo friendly and I'll have to edit the posts to reflect the absence of pictures as there are references to the pictures. So I'll still be posting here as well as on FB.

On the positive side, I'll be open to having you ask questions and I'll do my best to answer them or point you in the right direction to find the answer. The FaceBook format is a much more user friendly place for  such Q&A exchanges. Your comments and questions may inspire me to write an article to post here on this blog as well as on FB. I hope this will be an engaging, interactive community of cheese makers of all skill levels, sharing experiences, tips and tricks to making wonderful cheese products.

Thank you
the Cheesy Geek

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Very Berry Yogurt

                              photo from

Here in Florida we are past the strawberry season and into the blueberry season. It seems that no matter the season, fresh berries are always available but not always as inexpensive as when they are fresh and local. (At the end of strawberry season roadside vendors sell a flat of fresh strawberries as low as $5.00). Blueberry farms have U-Pick times and you can get a look of berries for not a lot of money. The same holds true for blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, huckleberries, mulberries or cranberries. To take advantage of this abundance, buy in bulk and freeze or can as much as you can.

Now, what does this have to do with Yogurt, you ask? Berries are the number one fan favorite compliment for yogurt.  Take a look at the yogurt section of your grocery store and you will notice there are over 80 different flavors on the shelves. Cost of these yogurts can be as high as .50cents per 4 oz. Making your own yogurt can cut that cost in half and not have any of the additives commercial products have.I also think the home made tastes much better.

Since I prefer the thicker Greek style yogurt, when I make a quart of yogurt I end up with 3 cups of the thicker yogurt after draining the whey. I broke down my recipe to a one cup quantity so it is easy to modify for any amount of yogurt.

Berry Yogurt Recipe

1 cup Greek style yogurt
1 Tbs of Honey. (I usually use a local wildflower honey)
2 Tbs of chopped berries.

Mix all ingredients well and refrigerate over night to allow the flavors to combine.
 For Blueberries I prefer to put them through the blender to chop up the skins better than by hand.
You may want to add some fresh fruit on top for texture and color.
Typically Strawberries don't need as much sweetening. Cranberries need more unless you like the tartness.

That's it. Berry Yogurt made easy.

As always: Your taste may be different and you can always change the amounts of honey and/or berries.

The Cheesy Geek

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tahini Cheese

Here is a non dairy cheese substitute you might like to try.
It has a flavor a bit like cheddar.
Tahini Cheese
3 C Water
3 1/2 TB Agar powder
1 1/2 C Tahini
5 TB Lemon juice
1/2 c Nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp Garlic powder
2 1/2 Tsp Salt

1. Mix water and agar powder in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-lo and simmer until the mixture looks somewhat clear (about 5 minutes).

2. Blend rest of the ingredients in a blender.

3. Add the cooked agar mixture to the blender and process for a couple minutes until smooth.

4. Pour into mold and refrigerate until the cheese is stiff.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Is cheese making a Geeky endeavor?

I am a geek. Not a nerd, although in my youth I wore heavy horn rimmed glasses, was a loner, enjoyed math and science, and didn't date much. In fact, in high school I only dated two different girls. A Geek is a Nerd with personality.  Over the years since then I have updated my eye wear, socialize more, still enjoy science, and have been married for almost 35 years, have two children and two grandchildren. And I changed from a nerd to a geek. Life is good.
Cheese making has been called a cross between an art and a science. A science because of the effects of time, temperature, enzymes, acids and PH, are fairly constant and replicable. And yet there is an art to small batch cheese making which depends on the quality of the milk being used. Early, Mid and Late lactation milks have different qualities and the amount of rennet needed will vary. The fat content also varies and produces different tastes and textures even when the recipe is followed exactly each time. Dare I say that the what the animal eats will determine the taste of the final product.Cow, goat or sheep milk can be made into cheese using the exact same technique and each will have it's own taste and texture.

Being a geek means that I'm a linear thinker and doer. Mufti-tasking doesn't work well at all for me. Making cheese requires linear thought and action, along with a touch of creativity thrown in to make cheese that is unique to me. When I got interested in making cheese, I went to the internet first and learned what I needed to know to begin making cheese. I spent close to a month reading websites and recipes and blogs until I knew enough to decide I REALLY wanted to do this.
Then I ordered a kit (Mozzarella and Ricotta kit from New England Cheese Making Supply Co.) and tried Mozzarella until I could duplicate my efforts most of the time. I branched out to other cheese and dairy products and practiced until I learned the techniques needed to make the cheeses. The process it what I enjoyed. Learning how it worked, learning what difference temperatures or time etc, The geek in me was pleased with each success and treated everything else as a learning experience. "There is no failure except the failure to learn."

With each success, my confidence grew and the artist part of my brain crept into the process asking "What if...". From yogurt making to rocky road yogurt cheese, to Key Lime Mascarpone filled filo cups, from heart shaped strawberry fromage blanc to goat milk feta wrapped in mozzarella, the experimentation has produced some interesting and surprising results.

Two years after making my first Mozzarella I have made 17 different cheese and dairy products. Some I won't make again. Others have become a regular part of each months weekend activities. Fresh Goat milk feta in basil infused olive oil is my favorite to make. I make a gallon or more of yogurt a month. Most has honey added and the ladies at work eagerly wait for the next batch to hitch a ride to work with me.

I've also held three classes to teach basic cheese making to some friends and family. I actually look forward to the next opportunity to share some of my knowledge with others.

Is Cheese Making a Geeky Endeavor? I don't know for sure but it does appeal to the geek in me. It holds my interest and gives me great satisfaction when someone says "This is great". This geek truly enjoys making cheese.

The Cheesy Geek

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Key Lime Yogurt treat

Short post today. I decided to finally try to make some Key Lime Yogurt.  After a little bit of taste testing, (and getting an approval from my Key Lime loving son). Here is my recipe. Feel free to adjust it to your taste.

Take 2 cups of Greek style yogurt,
I used some home made yogurt using New England Cheese Making Supply Co. Y5 sweet yogurt cultured for 7 hours at 113-113 F.

Mix in two(2) TBs of honey of your choice.
I used some local wildflower honey.

Then mix in three(3) TBs of Key Lime juice.
Fresh is best if you are lucky enough to find some. Sometimes you can find the bottled key lime juice at a local grocery store. offers several choices for purchasing key lime juice starting at $9 per 16oz bottle. You could use lime juice but it doesn't have the same twang as real key lime.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have
The Cheesy Geek

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What to do with a gallon of yogurt.

What do you do with a gallon on yogurt? This is my pot of yogurt made from the New England Cheese Making Supply Co's Y5 sweet yogurt. Sixteen cups in all. That's a lot of yogurt. It started out as one gallon of whole milk.
To make the yogurt, I heated the milk to 185F and let it sit at that temperature for 20 minutes. This seems to help the yogurt come out thicker. The pot is then put in a cool water bath and stirred occasionally until the temperature is down to about 116F. I then added 8Tbs of yogurt (from a previous batch and frozen until needed) and stirred well. From previous experience, I learned that placing the pot on a heating pad on low and covering the pot with a double layer of bath towel will keep my milk at 115-117F overnight. In the morning. I stirred the pot well and placed it in the refrigerator.
      Now I was ready for the fun part.
First thing I did was to take two cups of yogurt and put it in a separate container. With a couple tablespoons of honey stirred in, it is a delicious treat as is.

The remaining 14 cups with into a colander lined with damp 140 thread count sheet cut to the size a bit larger than the colander. In a couple hours nearly 4 cups of whey have drained from the yogurt and it is a little thicker than Greek style yogurt.
Here I added a level tablespoon of cocoa powder and two level tablespoons of powdered sugar to two cups of yogurt. After a good stir it looks like this.
This is not the time to give it a taste. You will notice the dark spots in the yogurt. That is the cocoa powder before it has a chance to hydrate. Put it in the refrigerator for an hour then give it another good stir.
And here you have chocolate yogurt!!!!  Oh how about the other 8 cups of yogurt? Well, do you like Rocky Road Ice cream?
First, 4 levels Tbs of cocoa powder and 8 level Tbs of powered sugar got mixed into the yogurt. 2/3 cups of mini marshmallows, 1/4 cup of nuts (here is used crushed walnuts) and 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips gently mixed. Finally, I put the colander in a pot and put it in the refrigerator overnight. This allowed another 2 cups or so of whey to drain and thickening the yogurt into a soft cheese.
The final yield of the rocky road cheese was 6 one cup containers like this one.

Like most recipes these are more of guidelines for you to follow and modify according to your personal tastes. Honey has many different tastes and sweetness. The most widely available is clover honey and is moderately sweet.  Orange bloosom honey has a little bit of a tang to it. Local honey will have a range of flavors for you to experiment with.
The rocky road recipe and chocolate yogurt are set to my taste for a less sweet yogurt. I used semi-sweet mini chips in this batch. Try some chocolate mint sometime if you like the minty flavors. Use your favorite nuts, pecan, almond, or hazel nut, even crushed peanuts aren't bad.

Have Fun and make more cheese.
the Cheesy Geek

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ending the Year making Cheese

While I haven't posted in a very long time, I haven't stopped making cheese. Just haven't posted here. On Dec. 29th 2011, I made Queso Blanco with four delightful young ladies. In the picture above, I'm supervising 6 year old Lexi  putting a gallon of milk into the pot as 15 year old Kristi looks on.
Twelve year old Megan (little momma) is taking her turn stirring the milk to keep it from scalding.
 Even three year old Lauren (I'm almost four) takes a turn stirring with a little help from Nana.
 Lexi hams it up for the camera but kept on stirring.
Finally, after 20 minutes of stirring the milk hit the perfect temperature of 185F. and the white vinegar added to perform its magic on the milk. Megan scooped the curds out of the whey and into the butter muslin with a little salt.
After hanging around draining for a few hours, this is what half of it looked like. Half was made into a dip. (crumbled and mixed with some salsa and heated in the microwave).
Lexi and Kristi had no problem consuming this bowl, with a little help from Nana.

And Kristi showing what she liked most about the afternoon: a nice slice right off the block.

This was a fun afternoon making an easy cheese that gives the kids the chance to see the results of the help and eat it the same day. The Cheesy Geek had a great time and intends to do some more classes this year.