Of Curds and Whey

I think it was a scene in The Little House on the Prairie. A man spends all day fishing at a nearby lake. A boy asks him, “why do you spend all day fishing when you could just go into town and buy a fish?” The man replies, “I like to know that I can feed myself.”

I was thinking of this scene when I tried to make cheese for the first time. There is an incredible amount of satisfaction and empowerment in understanding and creating your own food. Call me crazy, but this was the most delicious experiment to date. It was so simple and tasted wonderful. This will not be the last time we make cheese!

Here’s the play-by-play of our cheesemaking adventure. It was inspired by the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. For more detailed instructions, I borrowed a book from the library: Home Cheese Making, by Ricki Carroll. This is one of her recipes.

Lemon Cheese
(I choose this recipe because it seemed easy and had minimal ingredients. It looked like a good recipe for a first-time cheesemaker.)

2 liters of milk (I simply bought a carton of the usual 1% milk from the supermarket)
¼ cup lemon juice
cooking thermometer
cheese cloth


1. Add milk to large pot. Put on the stove at medium heat. Be careful not to scald or boil.

2. Heat the milk to 185-200 ˚F

3. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir well.

4. Cover for 15 minutes. The heat and acid in the lemon juice separate the milk into curds (the beginning of cheese) and whey (the liquid).

5. Ladle the curds into a colander lined with cheese cloth.

6. Tie the corners of the cheese cloth together and hang the bag to drain for 1-2 hours.

7. Cut the cheese out of the cloth.

8. Add salt or herbs if you like. (Don’t use iodinated salt. We used sea salt because it was on hand)

9. The cheese can be refrigerated in a covered bowl for up to two weeks. We put some in the fridge and ate the rest for lunch. Yum!

7 Responses to “Of Curds and Whey”

  1. 1 Blessie June 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I will definitely be trying it! On another note, (I mention this only because you mentioned Little House), the girl who played Nellie Olsen, a character I LOVED to hate, has a book called Confessions of a Prairie Bitch. I just came across it today and am looking forward to reading it.

  2. 5 roma June 27, 2010 at 11:57 am

    very inspiring. I don’t know how you have the energy to do all this – C is just a couple of weeks older than Banana and I can’t even get the housework done! And you have two!!!! 😀

    • 6 Mama Tortoise June 27, 2010 at 2:24 pm


      Oh, don’t be fooled! I am seriously so sleep deprived! Making cheese has been the plan for three weeks – it took me this long to get organized enough to do it. And I don’t plan on making ALL our own cheese. It was just something that I wanted to try. Although, now that I have tried, I definitely want to make more. It was honestly super easy. It sounds more glamourous/complicated than it actually was.

      Oh, and the housework doesn’t get done as much as it should. I’ve just sort of given myself over to not having a super clean house 24/7.

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Inspiration for free-range parenting or simple living

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