Learning how to make your own cheese at home may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! And you don’t have to spend a fortune buying special tools either. Here are some basic cheesemaking supplies to get you going in the kitchen.
With two dairy cows producing raw milk for our family daily, the fridge fills up quickly! I love using their milk to make butter, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella, whipped cream, ice cream, yogurt, and ricotta cheese.
There are countless ways to use raw milk to make delicious and healthy foods for our family. Even after making these recipes, the leftover buttermilk and whey continue to provide for us as well.
Simple dairy products and soft cheeses are pretty easy to learn how to make but hard cheese is a different story! It took me a while to get the hang of making hard cheese and I’m still learning.
I really enjoy making cheese! It’s amazing to take a few jars of milk and watch the process of it transforming into a beautiful wheel of cheese.
When I first took up cheesemaking, I didn’t know where to begin. I had no equipment, or so I thought. But after a lot of research, reading, taking a course, and trial and error, I found what tools I really needed and used and now I’m all set anytime I want to make cheese for our family.
Here are my basic cheesemaking supplies to get you started with making your own cheese at home. You will be amazed at what you can create with just a few tools and ingredients!
Large Stock Pot for Cheesemaking
You most likely already have a large stainless steel stockpot in your kitchen. You don’t need a special one for making cheese!
I have a 5 1/2 gallon heavy-bottom stock pot that I use for making stock and water-bath canning. But it also works perfectly for cheesemaking.
Stainless Steel Skimmer
Although this isn’t an absolute basic necessity, I love having one! I got by for a long time just using our regular ladle but it was a pain. For $12 I finally bought a cheesemaking stainless steel skimmer and it’s so nice to have.
It makes scooping curds out much easier as well as stirring in rennet and other starter cultures. But if you’re just starting out, a ladle or large slotted spoon will work too.
Cheesecloth is necessary to make many soft cheeses including cream cheese and ricotta. It’s handy to have for draining whey off of yogurt as well.
You will need some cheesecloth to line the inside of the mold when you’re ready to press the curds. Cheesecloth is easy to find at health food stores and online.
However, I prefer to use 100% unbleached cotton muslin instead. It’s much more durable, easier to clean, and leaves a smoother surface on the cheese. This is available at the fabric store for only a few dollars a yard, or try a thrift store.
A few pieces cut into 24-inch squares will work just fine. I like to cut the pieces using pinking shears so that I don’t have to worry about the fabric fraying over time.
I always fill a small saucepan full of water prior to making a new batch of cheese and boil the piece of fabric that I’m going to use. Then I just hang it up to dry until I’m ready to press the curds.
Check out this post for complete instructions on how to care for and store cheesecloth.
A good-quality cheese thermometer is an important tool as cheesemaking involves frequent temperature checks. They are usually very long so that they can attach to the side of a large pot and sit in the milk.
An instant-read digital thermometer is fine too but they’re usually not very long, making it difficult to dip far down into the milk to get a good reading. But you can make it work, you just need a thermometer! Just make sure to sanitize properly to avoid contamination from the other foods you use it with.
Cheese Press and Molds
Hard cheeses will need to be pressed to push out the whey and set the curds together into one block. But this isn’t something that has to be fancy or cost a lot of money!
My husband very sweetly got me a cheese press for Mother’s Day a few years ago when I first got into cheesemaking and I love it. But they are easy to make at home using just a few basic materials and a bucket.
You will also need a mold for your press. The mold is lined with cheesecloth and then filled with the curds. A follower (that comes with the mold) goes inside the mold to press the curds flat. The press then pushes down on the curds, pressing them into the shape of the mold.
Cheese molds aren’t very expensive and one 2-4 gallon mold will work for most hard cheeses. Whatever recipe you choose to follow will tell you what size mold you will need. They are often available at health food stores or online cheesemaking sites.
Cheese Curd Knife
A curd knife is a 12 to 14-inch long knife used to cut the curds in some cheesemaking recipes. But it’s not necessary to buy a fancy knife for this. Any kitchen knife you have will work! That’s what I use.
Tips for Using Basic Cheesemaking Supplies
- Always thoroughly wash all of your cheesemaking tools before making a new batch of cheese. Even if you washed them well after the last time you used and stored them. I always wash everything in hot, soapy water. Then I boil water in the large stock pot and dip the bottom of the thermometer, the skimmer, and the curd knife in then lay them on a clean towel on the counter while I prep my cheesemaking ingredients. Contamination can happen so it’s best to be sure everything is perfectly clean before you get started!
- Immediately after using any cheesemaking tools, rinse with lukewarm water. Milk and cheese solids are much harder to clean off after they’ve dried and hardened so take a few moments to give everything a quick rinse and then wash as soon as you’re all done to avoid a mess.
- Here is my favorite place to order basic cheesemaking supplies from but again, you might already have everything you need! Check your local health food store as well.
I hope this takes some of the guesswork out of home cheesemaking for you! It doesn’t need to cost a lot of money or clutter up your kitchen. Just a few basic and inexpensive supplies will have you making beautiful wheels of cheese at home in no time.