Warm milk to 90F.
Add culture- if its freeze dried, sprinkle, let sit a few and then stir in well. If its meso whey just stir it in.
Add diluted rennet. Stir well. Cover Let sit 30 min. Set timers. You will need them lots in this recipe. Dont forget to set timers!
Check for clean break. To do so- stick your clean finger or butter knife in at a 45 degree angle and gently lift up towards the surface. The curds should break fairly cleanly in a line over your finger (its okay if it breaks to one side or the other, the point is they are not ragged and mushy) If it doesnt break clean, let sit another 5-10 min.
Using a long knife such as a bread knife, cut the curds horizontally, then vertically in 1/2" strips, so that you're left with a grid. Dont stress about it being straight or perfect, you're just aiming for 1/2" and it will be what it will be! Let sit 5 minutes.
Stir the curds in layers, which is explained in the video, trying to gently break up the long curds into smaller chunks. This only takes a minute. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Using a long sturdy spoon, set a timer! then Stir for 5 minutes. Sit 5 minutes. Stir 5 minutes. Sit 5 minutes. Id say in the 5 min stir I’m stirring 50-75% of the time.
Take out about 6 cups of whey, add in 6 cups of hot tap water (as long as your tap water is potable, otherwise heat up 6 cups of your drinking water to approx 115-120F).
Stir for 10 minutes, stirring about 50% of the time. Check the temperature on your pot, turn on heat to medium low if needed to get your cheese/whey to about 98-100F. If you get to the end of 10 minutes and realize you havent stirred about half the time, just stir for another minute before letting it rest.
Let sit 5 minutes for curds to settle. Take out approx 5 quarts of whey, enough that you can see the tops of the curds. Replace with approx equal amounts of hot tap/heated water.
Depending on how much you stirred in the previous stirring cycles, will be how long this next one lasts. 20 minutes is your framework, but they may be done after 15 or 25 minutes. This is shown on video but to try to explain; take a handful of the curds and gently squeeze them. If they just want to shoot out any crevice and are like cottage cheese or poached egg whites, they're not there yet. You want them to cling together when gently squeezed. If you try to squeeze and they dont want to cling together because theyre too firm...you've gone too far, which is not a problem, its just now a firmer cheese.
Please see video 5, minute 2:45, for explanation on the importance of stirring and what happens if you dont stir long enough/stir too long. Its not bad, its just different.
Stir for 20 minutes, stirring 50-75% of the time. Heat a bit if needed so that your finished temp is about 105F. This is your guideline, pay attention to the curds above all else.
Let sit 10 minutes, then drain out your whey/curds in a cheesecloth lined colander. If you’re adding cumin seeds or something else (cumin loves things like red pepper flakes, black pepper, get creative on your dried spices!), dump the cheese back into your now empty pot, and mix it in well.
Scoop your curds into the cheese cloth lined press.
Press with light pressure for 30 minutes (this is 3-4 litres water for me). Then flip and press with medium pressure (6-8 litres water for me) overnight or 8-10 hours. If your house is very warm, err on the shorter side, if its cooler, its okay to go longer.
Its time to brine! To make your brine, which is a 18% brine, we do this;
Weigh out 300grams of non iodized salt. I like to do this in an empty 4-6 litre food grade bucket such as a peanut butter or honey bucket. This way I can make, brine and store the brine in one vessel. Add in 1000grams hot tap water (or heated drinking water) and whisk well. Th salt doesnt need to be fully dissolved, just mostly. Add in 500grams cold tap/drinking water and whisk well.
Put your pressed wheel into the brine, for a total of 20 hours, flipping about halfway.
Take if out of the brine and put it on a plate (some use a sushi mat etc, I just put it on a dinner plate.
Let air dry on counter for a couple days, flipping 2x a day, until the rind is kind of dry. If your house is very warm, and the rind isnt dry yet, move to the fridge for it to dry some more. If you have lots of flies, cover the cheese with one of those potluck food net cover things.
Once its dry, vacuum seal and tuck into fridge or cool room/root cellar/cheese cave. For the first month or so, it can be at a warmer temp of upto 10C/50F, but after that, it should be about fridge temp, 5C/40F.
It should be good to eat in 6-8 weeks (or leave it longer!) and I’d love if you tested it and let me know how you like it then!
We usually cut into a wheel, test it and vacuum seal into wedges so its easier to eat just a wedge here and there and the rest can stay aging.