How to make cheese – For Beginners

While cheese is very easy to make, it requires a lot of dedication, patience and hard work. Furthermore, if you decide  to make cheese in Zambia ensure you have proper refrigeration. The best place to start is in your kitchen where you can practice and perfect your skill. In fact, most cheese-makers first started out making cheese in their own kitchens. It’s important to note every step, every time as you perfect your skill. And who knows, you could become one of Zambia’s biggest cheese suppliers. So, here’s an overview of the process.

Five important cheese making steps

1. Use fresh milk and acidify it

When you get milk, always ensure it’s as fresh as possible. The best milk is whole milk straight from the animal. If you decide to use store bought milk, don’t open the container until you’re ready to start. Also, be sure to avoid any brands that say “ultra-pasteurized.” And, if your milk tastes sour or “off”, don’t use it.

Once you’ve got your milk, you need to acidify it. You can either add acid (vinegar or citric acid) straight into the milk to get the correct acidity or you can add cultures, or living bacteria. The first process is called direct acidification and gives cheeses including mascarpone and ricotta. The second process of adding cultures is the most used. Cultures are the key ingredient in most cheese making recipes. They help ferment the lactose in your milk and this starts the fermentation process.

2. Add an enzyme and test for gel firmness

Rennet is the most common coagulant used in cheese making. This is the name for the enzyme which causes the proteins in milk to solidify. However,  milk naturally solidifies  on its own when it’s left out. But, rennet is mainly used to solidify your milk before the acid levels rise too high and create an off flavor. So, mix the coagulant into the liquid milk and wait until a gel forms. Once the rennet has done its work on the proteins in the milk, the milk changes from a liquid into a gel/curd. You then cut the curd down into smaller cubes or chunks.  The smaller the pieces, the drier your cheese.

Depending on your recipe, the curd can be cooked to further dry your cheese. Furthermore, certain types of cheese require additives such as colouring herbs, spices and salt.

mozzarellaMozerella Cheese recipe


4 litres milk
1 1/2 tsp powdered citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1/4 tsp liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool water (if using rennet tablets, follow conversion instructions on the package)
1 to 2 tsp cheese salt


1. Slowly heat the milk to 13 degrees Celsius in a stainless steel pot. While stirring, slowly add the citric acid solution to the milk and mix thoroughly but gently.

2. Heat the milk to 32 degrees over medium-low heat. The milk will begin to thicken like yogurt.

3. Gently stir in the diluted rennet for 30 seconds. Then don’t disturb the milk while you let it heat to between 37 and 41 degrees. In about 5 to 8 minutes, the curds should begin to break up and pull away from the sides of the pot. Turn off the heat.

4. The curds will look like thick yogurt and become a bit shiny, and the whey will be clear. If the whey is still milky white, wait a few more minutes before turning off the heat. Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl. Reserve the whey. Press the curds gently with your hands, squeezing out as much whey as possible.

5. Heat the reserved whey to 80 degrees. Shape the curds into several small balls, rolling them between your palms. Put them, one at a time, into a ladle, and dip them in the hot whey for several seconds. Then gently fold the cheese over and over (as in kneading bread) with a spoon or your hand. (You’ll want to don rubber gloves at this point, as the cheese will be extremely hot.) This distributes the heat evenly throughout the cheese, which will not stretch until it is too hot to touch (63 degrees inside the curd).

6. Repeat this process several times until the curd is smooth and pliable; mix in salt after the second time. When the cheese stretches like taffy, it’s done. If the curds break instead of stretch, they are too cool and need to be reheated.

7. When the cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into balls and eat while warm. Although best eaten fresh, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or so.

Once you’ve got the hang of things, do market research. Click here for details.

You can also take cheese making courses or read the below recommendation: Artisan Cheese Making at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses

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4 thoughts on “How to make cheese – For Beginners

    1. Hi Michael. I’ll do some research for you after the holidays and let you know where you can get Rennet. Otherwise, it’s possibly being sourced from South Africa.

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