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Know How, Know More

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Cheese practice - 30 min mozerella

Cheese, Please

The "Back to Basics" do-it-yourself series returns to UI Extension in Macon, DeWitt, and Piatt counties. If you have not already checked out our classes, take a look today. Cheese making has appeared on this year's agenda, and class participants will get to make a mozzarella recipe from start to finish (if you want the recipe to try early, see it linked here).

Quick Overview

Cheese can be made with most any variety of milk. With making cheese at home, full-fat, whole milk will typically give a better product than working with fat-free, skim milk. Because milk sits in the temperature danger zone (40-140°F) during the process of making cheese, ensure your kitchen, equipment, utensils, and surfaces are clean.

Coagulation is the process of turning milk from a liquid to a solid. In cheese making, this primarily refers to the clotting of the protein, casein.

  • Enzyme coagulation relies on the enzyme rennet. When milk is heated within a temperature range of 70-95°F, rennet begins to work. Enzyme coagulation works quickly to form a rubbery curd.
  • Acid coagulation relies on reducing the pH of milk to clot it. This can be accomplished by directly adding an acidic ingredient or by inoculating the milk with bacterial cultures (similar to making yogurt) that produce lactic acid that lowers pH. Acid coalition produces a spongy curd.

Food Safety

Most cheeses should be refrigerated. Soft cheeses (ricotta, cream cheese, cottage cheese, etc.), whether made at home or bought, have a short shelf life. Use before their sell-by date or within 7 days of opening or making. Hard cheeses should be used within about 1 month once opened.

Hard cheeses can be frozen for longer storage. Soft cheeses are not recommended for freezing due to their high moisture content and tendency to fall apart once thawed.


1 pound of cheese is made from approximately 10 pounds of milk.

Make it at Home

Give the recipe with the blog a try, and share your story with us!  Or have a successful cheesemaking story from another time (or maybe some bloopers about your challenge along the way)?  Share those in the comments!

New England Cheesemaking Supply Company also has useful resources about making cheese at home.


  • Brown, Amy. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation. Belmont: Thomson-Wadsworth, 2008.
  • Microbes Make the Cheese, American Academy of Microbiology Colloquium, 2014.

Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.

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