Making Cheese with Kids (It’s not as hard as you think)

This post contains affiliate links, see full disclosure here.

How to Make Cheese With KidsOh cheese, how I love thee…Do you like to include cooking in your homeschool?  I do, it’s totally a relevant skill, and everyone has to eat!  My daughter’s current go-to when I don’t feel like cooking dinner is from-scratch hash-browns with sunny-side eggs.  Yum.

This semester, one of the classes I’m teaching at our co-op is “Inventions-It was intended for What!?”.  I find myself including food items, because they are fun, yummy, and easy to experience!

One item that we made recently was cheese.  So, so good, and soooo easy!  I was a little mad at myself that I hadn’t made some sooner in life.

But, I thought it was hard!!  I’m gonna walk you through it…and if you try it, oh you’ll be happy. 

First, we made it in my all-purpose electric cooker, because that was just easier at our co-op location.  But you can make it on the stove no problem.  Just be sure the pot is on the thicker side.

You need 3 things.

No kidding.

Cheese Making Ingredients

Gallon o’ Milk (unpasteurized, preferably whole), 1/2 cup vinegar, salt.

You can get fancy if you want to and add other herbs, but if this is your first time, I would suggest sticking to the simple plan.  That way you’ll have a good taste of it, and know how much extra flavorings, if any to add next time.

Anyways. 

You’ll also need some tools.

A pot, wooden spoon, mesh strainer, and cheese cloth (I just used my thinnest kitchen towel).  If you want to save the whey, have a bowl under your strainer to catch it, it’ll be about a gallon.  You can use it in smoothies, baking bread and some other things.  I’m just gonna focus on the cheese.

I had the kids do all of these steps, except for pouring it into the strainer, and squeezing the liquid out, if anyone got burnt I wanted it to be me (be careful, it can splash a little bit).

Go ahead and measure out your vinegar.  When milk boils, it expands and rises, and if it’s boiling over the sides of your pot you’ll make a huge mess while your measuring the vinegar!  (Adding the vinegar will make the milk recede if that happens to you.)

Boil Milk for Cheese

Next, heat a gallon of milk over medium heat, stirring CONSTANTLY so it won’t burn.

Once the top gets real frothy, you’re almost to boiling.

When the milk is boiling, pour in your vinegar, and instantly the curds will start to separate from the whey.  It’s pretty cool to watch, and the kids should definitely be around for this!

Curds separating from Whey

Stir for another minute or two, and then pour everything into a strainer to strain the curds from the whey.  (Catch the whey in a bowl under the strainer if desired.)   

Strained Curds

Suddenly “Little Miss Muffet” will make sense to you, and you’ll wonder why she was eating the whey. Haha

Rinse the curds with cold water.  Sprinkle with salt.

At this point, your cheese will be like a cottage cheese/feta cross, crumbly and separated.  Try some, it will taste a bit plain.

Now, pour it onto your cheese cloth/kitchen towel, and pull up the edges and twist in the middle to wring out any remaining liquid. 

Squeeze Liquid from CurdsSqueeze Liquid from Curds

Leave it wrapped in the cloth for at least an hour.  It will hold it’s shape (a nice little imperfect wheel) when removed from cloth. 

Finished Making Cheese

Slice it up and dig in!

Cheese - dig in!

The flavors develop the longer it “cures”.  This is a simple/mild cheese though, and will not be very complex in flavor or sharp like aged cheese.  When we ate it after an hour, we had some left over and shared it with our whole co-op at the end of the day, and the flavor had changed.  The kids were not expecting this, and it was very interesting. 

The kids really enjoyed making it, eating it (of course) and discussing the change in flavor from the feta/1 hour/2 hour flavor.

So, I said this was for my inventions class, right?  Yeah, almost forgot – just thinking about the cheese has me wanting more.

I used this book as my source:

 

Mistakes that Worked, 40 Familiar Inventions and How They Came to Be, by Charlotte Foltz Jones.  This book has a bunch of interesting inventions.  Another favorite we have covered in our class was the chocolate chip cookie!

 

No one knows the exact country cheese originated from, or how long ago it was invented.  But cheese extracts have been found in pottery cheese-strainers in Poland that date back 7,500 years ago! 

This invention probably wasn’t intentional.  Milk was placed in a pouch made from the stomach of a ruminant (sheep, cow, goat, etc.) and was stored there for travel. 

Well, the story goes, there was likely some digestive juices left in the stomach when it was cleaned.  When the milk was placed into the stomach, and then heated by the sun on a journey to another town, the curds separated from the whey and wasn’t discovered until the traveler stopped to eat.  What a surprise that must have been the first time!

We are finding in our Inventions class, that many things were invented by accident.  We discuss if there is anything the kids would change about the invention and why. 

Sometimes we watch a supplemental video, or cover interesting facts like how many varieties of cheese there are (over 2,000).  If you tried one variety a week, it would take you almost 40 years to try them all!

I like the food inventions we are covering, because it allows the kids to actually make the invention, touch it, taste it, and experience it for themselves.  It gets them thinking.

I’ll put just the instructions below, so you or your students can access them easily without having to sift through all my commentary.

I hope you’ll make some, and enjoy.  Let me know how it turns out, and if you add anything else to it!

I really want to make this again, and try making my own “mozzarella” sticks…

 

Simple Cheese

(1 Gallon Whole Milk, 1/2 cup vinegar, salt to taste)

1

Measure 1/2 cup vinegar.

2

Boil 1 gallon whole, unpasteurized milk on medium heat, stirring constantly.

3

When milk boils, add vinegar.  Curds will separate from whey.

4

Strain curds from whey in strainer (collect whey in bowl if desired).

5

Run cold water over curds and rinse well.

6

Sprinkle with salt.  Eat a little.

7

Place curds onto cheese cloth/kitchen towel, pull up corners and twist to wring out any excess liquid.

8

Leave wrapped in cheese cloth/kitchen towel for at least an hour.

9

Dig in!

 

Check out more Invention Awesomeness:

Fabric Blackberry Dye and the Invention of Synthetic Dye

Have you ever wanted to Duck Tape your child to a chair?

I’ve also just released the class as a PDF – head on over to my shop through the link below if you would like to do this class with your homeschool!

Homeschool Inventions Class

4 thoughts on “Making Cheese with Kids (It’s not as hard as you think)

Talk to me, I'd love to hear from you!