Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Better than a 1960s cheese ball…

cheese in oil I think it must be an American thing and I never quite got it. I always see those ubiquitous cheese balls rolled in Bac-os or nuts or other things and then laid out with crackers and carrot sticks. They are cute, I guess, when they first get set out. But after a few hours they start to look like the guest took off their shoes and walked through them. Cheese balls just don’t make sense me. But these cheese balls are leaps and bounds better and an easy introduction into cheese making and can be made 100% raw. No skills, no molds, no thermometers, no press needed but a little experience with viili helps. Need to get some? Click on the tab above (feed readers click this link HERE).

I have always been interested in food preservation that does not require refrigeration. In the old days, nobody had it; yet even in the Bible there are discussions of saving and storing food. This is particularly interesting to me as I have ten children and my fridge is full of milk and meat saving little room for fresh veggies, LF condiments and cheese. What’s more is the fact that I do not yet have a small wine fridge for cheese to keep it safe from yeasts and other things that might be in my food. I do have a second fridge, though. It is usually full of gallons of milk. These lovely cheese balls are modeled after a specific cheese mentioned in the GNOWFGLINS cheese course (information HERE). I am thrilled I signed up for her classes as I wanted to firm up my cheese skills and Wardeh never disappoints! Just to be clear, this is not her method and I am not an affiliate and get nothing for sending you over there. I seriously enjoyed her course and think it would benefit others.

Firstly, you will need to acquire some rennet (I use double strength vegetable rennet). It is not too expensive and the bottle will last through dozens of cheese experiments. You can find it at Cultures for Health, whose lovely flash ad is at the top of this post (feed readers can stop by my page by clicking HERE). Rennet will firm up a cheese. You will also need a mesophilic starter, I used flora Danica. A mesophilic starter is one that happily proliferates at room temperature and requires no heating of the milk. Flora Danica is a great starter for cheesy, buttery fermented dairy that is light and fluffy because it produces gasses like kefir. It is less tangy and makes great brie and fantastic sour cream. You will need some cheese cloth, a strainer, and a bowl to put under it.

Combine your starter and your raw milk, pasteurized is fine if that’s all you have, and add five drops of rennet and stir very well. If using raw or non-homogenized milk, either stir with a scrupulously clean spoon or shake the jar once every two hours for the first six. This will combine the cream and the milk to produce evenly creamy cheese. Culture this milk for 36 hours to consume most of the lactose.

You will need to then transfer the cultured milk to strain. If you have cheap cheese cloth, use a double layer but the thick culture won’t pass through too easily. You will need to strain at room temperature for 48 hours. This will produce a cheese that is very crumbly and dry and will hold it’s shape. When the cheese is dry, add one half teaspoon of quality salt for every half gallon cultured. Above you see the jars produced from three half gallons, the largest jars being quart jars. Knead the salt into the cheese and then shape into balls using a tablespoon measure. Drop the balls into your jars leaving at least two fingers head space. Wipe the threads and tops of jars. My three half gallons of milk yielded about four dozen balls. Pour quality olive oil over the top of the balls and insure that all balls are covered.

The olive oil protects the cheese from oxygen and pathogens in the air and allows you to store the cheese at room temperature. You can store the cheese on the shelf and add a ball or two to a plate whenever you like. The olive oil is not wasted as it can still be used for cooking and making mayonnaise and salad dressings. I used more than one and a half liters for my cheese  making project and while it was expensive, I think of it as another storage method. It’s like wrapping a fragile item in a Tshirt when shipping. Nothing is wasted.

Our parish priests and some friends will be receiving these jars of homemade 100% raw cow milk cheese in oil for Christmas. Maybe some of the people on your list would like you to make some for them, too!


  1. Awesome!! I just got some vegetable rennet, but I need to order the culture. Great tutorial. :)

  2. OK, I'm going to try this when Gregg goes to the beer store and gets me some yogurt culture starter (because i keep failing at yogurt which is pretty much a sign that I fail at being Indian). I'll let you know how it goes!

  3. what do you do with the cheese? is it sour?

  4. This was made with flor Danica which is super mild and buttery tasting, so nope. Not sour! I did not get it in the freezer yet, but will go in an hour or so and then tomorrow I can mail. Baby Sophia is getting another molar which means I am in zombie land!

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