Milk needs very little encouragement to become cheese. Add heat and coagulant (like vinegar or lemon juice) and curds separate
from whey to create, tah-dah, cheese. “What most surprised me about making cheese,” says Elaine Johnson, Sunset’s Associate Food Editor, “is how easy it was. Anyone can do it!”
Team Cheese’s first cheeses, for our summer feast, couldn’t have been simpler, because we restricted ourselves to what we could get from our garden: lemons for coagulation and herbs for flavoring, plus salt, which we made from seawater, and milk, from a local dairy (and eventually from our own cow). But even with our super-simple cheeses, the results were slightly different depending on how we adjusted the variables: temperature, time, amounts, and technique.
As our one-block project continued, we kept making our simple cheeses, but we also learned to use cheese cultures and rennet. Once we started playing around with presses and brines, the chances for variation only multiplied. In The One-Block Feast, we share the full cheese-making process and recipes for several varieties, from ricotta to gouda.