I can empathize! I would have said exactly the same thing a few years ago. Now I'm fairly confident in making several types of soft and pressed cheese, and have started trying some mold ripened varieties.
Thanks so much, Mina!
Here's my concrete advice: get a book that has a range of recipes and also offers some explanation. RC's book is one, but there are others as well. Tim Smith's book, Making Artisan Cheese, may also fit the bill. If you have questions about procedure, then ask here. (I am still asking some very basic questions, and have received very helpful answers here.)
I got a book (Skokol's), but he made quite a lot of mistakes (like not including a culture in one of the recipes...), so I have taken to getting recipes from here or elsewhere to supplement.
My main problem is the results don't come out right. I feel like may e I am starting off with a ph difference in my milk--raw--because it curds up (flocculates) so fast and tends to end up dryer than it's supposed to. I have been through ten thermometers and the one I've got now is adjusted to boiling but 10 degrees off at freezing.
Then there's the issue of cutting the curd.
? My curds are so badly cut. It wigles and slides and I never get the bottom no matter how hard I try
Cooking the curds? The directions are all over the place. Skokol is big on raising the temp slowly; no one else seems to care. I can't get the temp to go up that slowly anyway.
And it just goes on like that. Every step of the way I seem to not get right.
Start with some soft cheeses to give yourself inspiration and confidence. They just take good milk, which you have, a culture, and perhaps a bit of rennet. Cheeses like quark and chevre. You can add seasonings and enjoy soon. The only equipment you need is a ss pot, a thermometer, and some cheesecloth.
That is two of my questions
I can make several soft cheeses; well, if you count the three that seem suspiciously similar, but my family doesn't eat them--we kind of don't know what to do with them, except for ricotta (my husband's a great cook, but mostly Italian). I want to do things with the cheeses, but when I try to put salt in, they seem to get messed up somehow.
Then try a couple of simple hard cheeses. Monterey jack is one I would recommend. Gouda is good too. Don't get an expensive press right away perhaps, but improvise a mold and a weight. (I still use a ss steamer with a plate and a jar of water sometimes.)
I have two cheese presses
It is essential to get a good thermometer. I use my husband's brewing thermometer. It has a long stem and the appropriate temperature range.
I cannot wait to get your kind of thermometer!!!! Could you tell me exactly what kind it is? I have used two kinds of meat thermometers, 2 or 3 candy ones, and 3 electric. All so slow, inaccurate, and fragile.
If you have any brewing supply shops in the area, they may have cheese making supplies and be able to connect you with fellow cheesemakers.
Thank you so much! Now I know what to look for... Our area runs more to moonshine (just kidding, I don't know that anyone is doing it nowadays). And it looks like I can start with that and maybe find someone who's not nearby but somewhere I can get to.
hope this helps. Don't get discouraged! Cheese making can be very rewarding!
This has been very helpful. I felt pretty bad because I had to throw out a bunch of cheese... I was feeling discouraged. I'd love to be able to get this right...
And thanks for the book recommendations, too. I really need another book, one I can trust.
PS I didn't find mozz an easy cheese to start with.