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Urban Cheesecraft

DIY Cheese Kits

Cheese Making 101

When Claudia Lucero set out to try her hand at cheesemaking, she was surprised at how difficult it was to find supplies and overwhelmed by some of the special equipment that some recipes required. After all, cheesemaking has been going on for centuries! Should it really be this complicated to try in a modern home? None of us has calibrated presses, humidity gauges, and acidity testers in our home kitchens!

After lots of
research and perseverance, Claudia refined her own techniques for making fresh cheeses that don’t require aging and can be made at home with little or no special equipment. Now she’s sharing her experience with fellow aspiring cheesemakers.

With an Urban Cheesecraft DIY Cheese Kit, all you need is a gallon of pasteurized milk (not ultra-pasteurized). The kits include the rest of the supplies such as cheesecloth, a dairy thermometer, vegetarian rennet, citric acid, and cheese salt. (Supplies vary depending on the kit you choose.) Just follow the instructions, and in about an hour, you’ll have fresh mozzarella, ricotta, queso blanco, paneer, or goat cheese. Once you get the hang of it, you can have fun experimenting with different spices, shapes, and recipes. Your taste buds will love the effort.

— Ann
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Grommet Launch Conversation

  • Claudia
    Claudia

    Imagine a sunny day, a picnic blanket on a grassy patch and you're enjoying creamy homemade goat cheese with rustic bread, olives and wine...or do you prefer a shady tree, sitting at a long wooden table surrounded by friends enjoying your fresh mozzarella, sun-ripened tomatoes and sparkling wine? You don't have to travel to the French or Italian countryside to be a part of these scenes. Create them yourself! Start by making simple, delicious cheeses in your very own kitchen, add friends, family and your own creative touches. One hour, a gallon of milk and a DIY cheese kit- really.

  • Kate
    Kate
    4/15/2011 12:36 PM

    Count me among the cheese lovers! You mention that the Paneer and queso blanco is the easiest cheese to make. Which is the hardest?

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/15/2011 12:57 PM

    Hi Kate, with rigorous testing, I make sure that every cheese kit I make ensures success, that said, out of the cheeses my kits make, mozzarella requires the most attention and practice in order to get a moist and tender result. You will likely make a great cheese the first time but I find people are so amazed by the process that they don't move swiftly enough or they over-knead because it's so fun! Hope that helps, Claudia

  • Sylvie
    Sylvie
    4/15/2011 1:24 PM

    Does the kit need to be refrigerated or used within a certain period of time, or is it shelf-stable, and if so, for how long? I'm thinking of getting a couple of these for upcoming gift-giving occasions...

    Thank you!

    Sylvie

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/15/2011 1:31 PM

    Hi Sylvie,

    the vegetarian rennet in the mozzarella kit and deluxe kit does best in the freezer. It can last 5 years! Out of the freezer and away from heat, 1 year. Other than that, everything is shelf stable though since I use only recyclable, compostable packaging, keep everything away from moisture for best results. Cheers!

  • Danielle
    Danielle
    4/15/2011 1:25 PM

    This is wonderful! Just recently I have wanted to learn to make my own cheese at home after reading a book about local eating (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle)...I am so excited to see this product. This will be an easy way to begin learning. Really fantastic...

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/15/2011 1:33 PM

    Hi Danielle, that book was extremely inspiring for me as well. Hope you try your hand at making cheese!

  • Sylvie
    Sylvie
    4/15/2011 1:26 PM

    Also, I'm curious about the cost-difference between the kits - is that because of the amount of ingredients? The variety of ingredients? Just curious...

    Thank you,

    Sylvie

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/15/2011 1:37 PM

    Hi Sylvie, exactly. Cost differences come in when kits do or don't include thermometers, shaping molds or rennet. The basics (paneer and queso blanco) start with cheese salt, citric acid, fine cheesecloth and the recipe booklet. All of the regular kits contain enough supplies to make at least 10 batches and the deluxe kit makes at least 30 batches. Hope that helps.

  • Sylvie
    Sylvie
    4/15/2011 2:01 PM

    @Claudia Lucero: Thanks, Claudia!

    On the cheese salts, is the amount that you add to the cheese variable? I tend to find mozarella, for example, very salty in most commercial preparations...but I cook almost entirely without salt because I had a mom with high blood pressure, so I REALLY taste salt. Would the kit allow me to reduce salt content somewhat, or is the salt integral to how the cheese sets up so much that I could not reduce it?

    Thanks, Sylvie

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/15/2011 2:04 PM

    Hi Sylvie, you can absolutely customize the salt! That's one of the many great benefits of making cheese yourself. Use no salt at all if you'd like, use herbs and spices for flavor and you're all set.

  • Sylvie
    Sylvie
    4/15/2011 2:10 PM

    Super, thank you for all the info, Claudia!

  • Donna
    Donna
    4/15/2011 2:22 PM

    How much cheese is in a batch?

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/15/2011 3:11 PM

    Hi Donna, it varies a little because the nature of some cheeses is less moist than others (mozzarella versus ricotta for instance). The more moisture (whey) remains in a cheese, the larger the yield. The batches made from one gallon of milk give 3/4 lb. to 1.5 lbs. The goat cheese kits start with half gallon (because that milk is a little more pricey and rarely found in a gallon form) so you get about 1/2 lb. or 2-3 little wheels from that one. I think you'll find the results are surprisingly generous!

  • beth
    beth
    4/15/2011 2:26 PM

    The Grommet details say that you can make the cheese in these kits with regular milk from the supermarket, but wouldn't I need goat's milk to make the goat cheese?

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/15/2011 3:14 PM

    Many mainstream grocery stores carry goat milk in the dairy section. So regular grocery store milk is right, just choose cow or goat milk :). If they don't carry it, you can often request it or turn to a whole foods market, local health store etc.

  • Emily
    Emily
    4/15/2011 2:31 PM

    In the writeup it states that all you need is pasteurized milk, but in the video it talks about Goat milk for that kit... I'm interested in the Goat Cheese kit but want to first confirm that I'll need Goat's milk. I'm really not sure where to get that. Thanks.

  • Rebekah
    Rebekah
    4/15/2011 3:12 PM

    @Emily: You might be able to get goat's milk (if it is in fact required) at your normal grocery store. Here in MI I shop at a Kroger and they carry it next to the regular milk.

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/15/2011 3:17 PM

    Hi Emily, Rebekah is exactly correct. You should be able to find it at a grocery store. Goat milk is available pasteurized just as cows' milk is. As I said to Beth:

    Many mainstream grocery stores carry goat milk in the dairy section. So regular grocery store milk is right, just choose cow or goat milk :). If they don't carry it, you can often request it or turn to a whole foods market, local health store etc.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    4/15/2011 2:56 PM

    Great questions guys. Claudia will be right back to help us clarify.

  • Jules
    Jules – Grommet Team
    4/15/2011 5:10 PM

    I'm the person on your right in the video. I didn't get to tell some other things you might want to know. First, before I got to experience the Urban Cheesecraft kits I had tried making homemade mozzarella and I had a couple problems. First, even though I live in a big city (Boston) I had to really hunt to find rennet--a critical ingredient. I like that the kits come with a copious supply or rennet and eliminate that impossible search. Second, when I tried making cheese on my own I had two spectacular and frustrating failures before making a third successful batch. I was delighted the Urban Cheesecraft kits are fool-proof, even for me.

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/15/2011 5:34 PM

    Thank you Jules, it really looked like you were having fun making cheese! So glad the kits did for you what I hope they do for any frustrated would-be cheesemaker!

  • Rebecca S
    Rebecca S
    4/16/2011 3:37 PM

    I know the kits are designed to be used with pasteurized milk, but will they also work the same with raw milk? (My ultra lactose-intolerant mom has recently discovered she can eat raw organic cheese with no ill effects, so it would be lots of fun to make it ourselves!)

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/16/2011 4:42 PM

    Hi Rebecca, I think I mention this in the video but I call it fresh farm milk :). You can absolutely use raw milk. Try a recipe as is and then if the cheeses are a little too firm for your taste, adjust the citric acid (raw milk still contains acid-producing good bacteria). Your cheeses will be delicious!

  • Wesley A
    Wesley A
    4/16/2011 11:23 PM

    Hi Claudia and folks,, down here in Texas all of the Walmarts' carry goats milk and many of the regular grocery stores (United, HEB's,etc.) and every health food store I've been in carry it. Only thing is,most are in quart sizes. Maybe in a larger city some might have 1/2 gallons. Happy cheese-ing!

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/17/2011 1:47 PM

    Thanks Wesley, I find that we often don't know something is there til we need it! Glad that Texas is well-stocked for us cheesemakers.

  • arleen chavarria
    arleen chavarria
    4/17/2011 6:05 AM

    Wat bout panela cheese do u have that one?I think I wanna try making some my kids are cheese lovers.

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/17/2011 1:44 PM

    Hi Arleen!! I don't make a panela kit (yet :) but I use the queso blanco recipe, reduce the citric acid by 2 pinches and get a very close substitute. I love panela, fresh warm tortillas...that's all you need!

  • Ann
    Ann
    4/18/2011 10:46 AM

    I just had my first batch of baby goats and am excited to try cheese making. Can you please tell me exactly what the contents of the goat cheese kit are?

    I once had a fabulous goat cheese in France that was a log of cream cheese texture chevre on the outside and the middle was soft like a brie. Do you have any recipes for something like that?

    Kathy, how did you know I'd log on today?

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    4/18/2011 10:59 AM

    @Ann: Congratulations on your new kids! Fresh cheese is a must have reward for all you do. Here is a list of the ingredients in the kit:

    Fresh Goat Cheese Kit Includes:

    Instruction Booklet

    2 Traditional Goat Cheese Molds

    Fine Cheesecloth

    Dairy Thermometer

    Citric Acid

    Cheese Salt

    I will forward your question on to Claudia to see if she knows how to replicate your French cheese experience.

  • Claudia
    Claudia – Special Guest
    4/18/2011 4:29 PM

    Hi Ann, as Katherine said, the kit includes all you need for a simple, fresh goat cheese- it's a great start if you're new to making cheese. For an aged flavor (which is what you had in that wonderful cheese), you need time, some cultures, mold, rennet, humidity/temp controls and practice. I'm working on more kits but for now I stick to simple, no aging required cheeses so that people can gain confidence with their successes...and then move on to more difficult processes with gusto (and informed caution :)! If you're looking to get more advanced, I recommend getting yourself a good instructional book with simple to advanced recipes such as Ricki Carroll's Home Cheesemaking. Enjoy the delicious ride!

  • arleen chavarria
    arleen chavarria
    4/21/2011 11:30 PM

    Gracias prima well when u do let me know cuz da kids love it thy actually love all cheeses!but let me no saludos a jeff take care oxox

  • Donna
    Donna
    5/1/2011 11:34 AM

    I made my first batch and this stuff is yummy!! can't wait to go get more milk to make lots more Cheese!! What a wonderful, easy, fast, and fulfilling idea. Hope everyone else is having as much fun as I am. ; }

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    5/1/2011 1:28 PM

    @Donna: We are delighted that your cheese turned out so yummy. Thanks for stopping back to share.

  • Melissa Mertz
    Melissa Mertz
    5/8/2011 7:39 PM

    I made my first batch of mozzarella and it was surprisingly easy! I was prepared for it to be a flop but it turned out great. It happens right before your eyes, which makes it fun and exciting. And the result is delicious. I will definitely be getting more kits, and I recommend it as an activity kids can watch. It might get them interested in chemistry!

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    5/8/2011 11:19 PM

    @Melissa Mertz: Thank you for reporting back to us about your experience. We are glad to hear of your success as a cheese maker!

  • Michelle
    Michelle
    11/29/2011 11:00 PM

    We are getting this for a Christmas gift. Which kit would you recommend?

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    11/30/2011 12:17 AM

    @Michelle: You can not go wrong with any of the kits. If you are unsure which would appeal the most to your recipient, I would go with the Mozzarella and Ricotta as it is our top seller.

  •  jaybean
    jaybean
    10/31/2012 1:39 PM

    What are the cheeses in the deluxe set?

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