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I tried to make hard cheese from raw milk by a common recipe: heating milk to about 190 F, then adding vinegar to curdle. However, I faced three issues:

  1. Different recipes suggest 1/4 - 1/8 cup of vinegar for one gallon of milk, but in my case, the milk does not curdle with less than 1/2 cup for a gallon of milk.

  2. The cheese produced is very soft. When I try to squeeze the cheesecloth (even think and double layer), the cheese is coming out of the cheesecloth pores. Then, I cannot remove more water from the cheese to make hard cheese.

  3. When I separate the whey, it still contains cheese, and after heating the whey, it produces a lots of cheese (even more than the first step).

Is there anything wrong with my method?

The cheese produced is quite good, and I just cannot go further to make hard cheese. A possible source of problem can be the size of my curds in the milk suspension, which is smaller than those shown in the vidoes posted on the internet (not forming big lumps; but I have no idea what can be the reason.

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Have you tried using a towel for squeezing out the liquid? – Mien Jul 13 '13 at 9:05
@Mien no, shouldn't it problematic to catch the cheese from rough towel fabric? I will give it a try! – All Jul 13 '13 at 10:56
Are you renneting at all? It is nearly impossible to make a hard cheese without the use of rennet to coagulate the curd. – Didgeridrew Jul 13 '13 at 13:41
@All I wouldn't use a rough towel (terry cloth), usually food is strained in a smooth tea towel. – SourDoh Jul 13 '13 at 15:47
I have never heard of a normal hard cheese made with acid, but I have made very hard paneer (haloumi-like in hardness) by oversqueezing the curds. I just used a fine towel and twisted it as much as I could. I must say that the result wasn't especially tasty, it was bland and the texture didn't fit much. You could try it this way, but I guess that the reason traditional hard cheese is made with rennet and ripening is because that's what makes good cheese. – rumtscho Jul 13 '13 at 16:17

4 Answers 4

Hard cheese usually uses rennet, and a mechanical cheese press to extract as much whey as possible, and usually a long aging (drying) time to make it hard.

I think there may be a discrepancy between the original poster's definition of "hard" cheese and what is generally known as hard cheese like Grana Padano, Cheddar, and others.

The process the OP is describing sounds like how one would make fresh paneer, and "hard" in this case might be more like the texture of "firm" tofu.

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I do hard cheese from goat milk, I do not have specific amounts to give you but I will share my experience.

At first when following recepies I had the same issue until I started to pay no mind to quantity and once milk starts to simmer I start squirting in the white wine vinegar and gently mix with a slotted inox spoon (the pan is also inox. Aluminium pans are not advised to make cheese due to vinegar's corrosive properties).

You know when to stop adding vinegar when the whey and the curdles form.

It is important to turn off the heat once the curdles form because if you let it boil you will get hard curdles that will be hard to press tight together making a crumbly and grainy cheese.

I then let it rest until it drops to a warm temperature so I can get my hands into it. I then separate the curdle using the cloth and colander. You can keep the whey and use it to knead bread or other culinary purposes.

Salt and season the curdle with herbs and spices according to your taste, giveit a mix and then close the cloth wrapping together all the ends and twisting so that your curdle is becoming a uniform paste.

Fill the cheese cinch and press again until it gets all uniform and tight and the cinch comes loose easily.

Now you have fresh cheese wich you can eat as is or let it cure in a ventilated and protected place.

Basicly you make cottage cheese and then press it to get hard cheese. You can use lime juice or lemon juice. You can also do cheese balls and boil them in the whey and you'll have your very own mozzarela.

I've also had occasions when the milk is almost impossible to curdle and have discovered that it is due to a couple of plant species my does eat (fig-tree and wild vines).

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Interesting -- I didn't know that diet would play a factor in the chees production (other than flavor of the milk). – Joe May 14 at 15:47

You need to press your cheese. Cheese does not become hard by the Lord's mercy alone you have to press it. All wet curds are soft but through proper draining and the adding or pressure you can give your cheese a more firm texture.

Here is a good instructional video on the matter.

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Use more vinegar for a firmer cheese. 3/4 cup or more.

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This does not make sense. You haven't related the amount of vinegar to the amount of milk. More importantkly, the firmness of the cheese is limited by the amount of milk protein that can be coagulated, and the expressing of the whey. Adding more vinegar will not change either of these factors. – SAJ14SAJ Feb 19 '14 at 13:01

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