How to Make Cheese

Making a Break: Separating the Cheese

Your pot full of milk should now be coagulated enough to cut into cubes. You'll ­     ­  know if it's ready if you get a clean break.

4. Break: Stick your finger into the curd (gelled milk). When you pull your finger out, the curd should break cleanly over it, leaving a crevice where your finger was. If it's too liquidy to break, let it sit undisturbed for another hour and try again.

5. Cut: Once it breaks cleanly, cutthe curd. Insert a long knife into the pot (it should touch the bottom) and cut a grid of 0.5-inch (1.25-centimeter) cubes. Let the cubes sit for several minutes.

6. Set: While slowly warming the curd to 98 degrees F (37 degrees C), use your hand to stir up the pot. Dig all the way down to the bottom, lift and mix gently. Don't squeeze, just stir. Keep stirring until the temperature reaches 98 degrees F and the curd is set to the consistency of scrambled eggs. Remove the pot from the heat.

7. Separate: The curd should have sunk to the bottom of the pan, topped by whey. (If it hasn't, you could have a problem with contamination. See Basic Cheese Making to learn more.) Pour off some whey, and put the curds in a strainer to remove the rest of the whey. Pour the curds into a bowl.

8. Salt: Add 2 teaspoons of salt (remember, non-iodized -- iodine will turn your cheese green) and mix with your hands. Again, pour off any whey that floats to the top.

Your salted curd mixture is now ready to become full-fledged cheese. This happens when you press it.