Soft cheese is a healthy cultured food that is as versatile as it is delicious. It is a high-moisture, spreadable cheese that is eaten fresh.
MAKING SOFT CHEESE AT HOME
Making soft cheese is a great option for beginning cheesemakers because it requires only a few ingredients and very little special equipment. Check out our Basic Cheesemaking Supply List for more information.
Conditions for Making Soft Cheese
Soft cheese is best made in a kitchen with a steady, moderate temperature, around 72°F. Higher temperature or excessive humidity may promote yeast growth, which in turn will affect the taste of the cheese.
When making cheese and other cultured dairy products at home, it is important to choose good ingredients. Consult our article, Milk for Cheesemaking: An Overview, for advice on choosing the best milk for your cheesemaking project.
Four Basic Steps to Making Soft Cheese
While it is best to work with a recipe for making any cheese, there are some common methods included in most soft cheese instructions. Below you will find the basic steps employed for making most soft cheese and some tips and techniques for each:
Step 1: Heat the Milk
To avoid scorching the milk, it is best to heat milk indirectly using a water bath method or over a double boiler. When heating a large quantity of milk, or if indirect heating is not possible, stir the milk frequently as it heats, then constantly once it approaches the final temperature, to avoid scorching. For best results, we recommend heating milk slowly, over low heat. Learn more tips for heating milk in our tutorial: How to Heat Milk for Culturing.
Step 2: Add Starter Culture and Rennet
To add powdered starter culture, sprinkle it over the surface of the milk, allowing it to rehydrate for a few minutes before stirring it in thoroughly.
To add an acidic coagulant, such as lemon juice or citric acid, pour it through the holes in a slotted spoon into the milk and incorporate using long and steady up-and-down motions. Avoid stirring.
To add rennet for firmer curd coagulation, follow recipe instructions. Rennet is usually dissolved in water, and the solution is added to milk in the same manner as an acidic coagulant, using long and steady up-and-down motions.
Step 3: Drain the Curd
Once the curd has formed properly, it requires draining. To drain soft cheese, use a colander and butter muslin or acotton bag. Place the colander in a slightly larger bowl and drape the muslin over the colander. Either spoon or pour curds into the muslin-lined colander, according to the recipe’s instructions.
Once all the curds are in the colander, tie the corners of the muslin together to make a sack, and suspend over a bowl for the draining period.
Step 4: Salt and Store
Once the curds have drained sufficiently, salt to taste, to improve flavor and increase shelf life.
New cheese makers should taste the cheese every day to see if more or less salt should be added. Cover cheese tightly before storing in the refrigerator. Fresh soft cheese will keep 1 to 2 weeks, covered, in the refrigerator.
Soft Cheese Yield
One gallon of milk produces 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of cheese, depending on butterfat content.
USING SOFT CHEESE IN RECIPES
Soft cheese can easily be used in a variety of recipes and menus. Browse our list of 10 Ways to Use Any Soft Cheese for ideas and recipes.
Get Started Making Soft Cheese!
Choose from our list of Soft Cheese Recipes for Beginners or start with an all-inclusive cheese starter kit, containing all the ingredients and tools you need to make a variety of easy cheeses. Using a cheese starter kit provides a fun project for the entire family!