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Cheese Making Ingredients

Learn about the basic ingredients for cheese making and how use them

It's easy and fun to make cheese at home. When starting out, there are three basic components to think about, ingredients, equipment and the process.

In this article you will learn about the ingredients used to make cheese at home. Most types of cheese only need two or three ingredients, milk, cultures and rennet. These simple ingredients will ripen the milk, form curds and whey and add flavor to the finished cheese.

The most important ingredient in cheese making

Good Milk

Finding good milk will help you create fantastic cheese. When getting milk, you always want it to be as fresh as possible. If you have access to farm fresh, try to get that days milk, and enjoy your bounty because you are one lucky cheese maker! When using store bought milk, wait to open the container until you're ready to start. Most importantly, if your milk tastes sour or “off”, do not use it; turning it into cheese will not make it taste better.

Making cheese causes the protein part of milk solids to coagulate and produce curd. At first the curd is a soft gel-like texture because it contains all the water along with the solids. As the curds are heated, and time passes, liquid (whey) is released, and the curds condense more and more until they become cheese. Time, temperature, a variety of friendly bacteria, and enzymes determine the flavor and texture of each type of cheese.

Starter Cultures for Cheese Making


Starter cultures are friendly bacteria that help “ripen” your milk by increasing acidity levels. Since they are a key ingredient in most cheese making recipes, choosing the right one is an important step when gathering your ingredients.

Cultures work by fermenting the lactose in your milk and initiating the production of lactic acid, which enables a number of changes to take place. This fermentation helps dictate the moisture and mineral content of your curds, and has a big role in determining the taste, texture and characteristics of your finished cheese.

While following a recipe, cultures are added when milk reaches a specific temperature. Each culture has an ideal temperature at which it thrives. In order to generate good culture production these temperature guidelines will be important. The goal is to create an ideal environment for proper acid development.

Mold Powders for Cheese Making

Mold Powders

Mold powders are added to bacterial and mold-ripened cheeses to enhance their flavor and aroma. We carry these molds in a freeze dried powder form that should be stored in a freezer for optimum shelf life.

Rennet for Cheese Making


Rennet in an enzyme used to coagulate milk. When added to milk it causes the proteins to solidify and your milk will separate into curds and whey. Naturally, milk will solidify on its own if left out, this is due to high acid development. The reason you add rennet is to solidify your milk prior to acid levels rising too high and creating an off flavor. Adding rennet at the correct “ripening” time helps keep milk sweet by solidifying it quickly.

Rennet is available in many forms including liquid, tablet and powder. It can be derived from either animal or vegetable. Animal rennet is more traditional but vegetable rennet has been growing in popularity over the years. Choosing which type of rennet to use is typically based on personal preference.

Additives for Cheese Making


In this section we have listed many common additive that can be used when making cheese. Certain types of cheese will require an additive or two in the recipe. Other times you may want to add one, possibly for extra flavor or visual appeal. Many times the addition of these additives will help make your cheese come to life with its own unique characteristics. Once you feel comfortable with a recipe, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and play around with different additives. Chances are you could be wonderfully surprised and create your own signature cheese.

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