Creating cheese is a complex process involving many chemical reactions, temperature changes, and some tricky machinery. However, one of the main processes in cheese making is the curdling process, in which the milk and a curdling agent react together to extract the milk protein casein, which is used in cheese. This process can easily be done on a small scale at home using household items and appliances, however, still nuanced enough for improvements for those who have the time and resources.
DISCLAIMER: Remember you should not consume any! of the curds.
This guide will show you how to create curds using only a few ingredients in about three days or under. However, this cheese is not edible at the end of the experiment.
Background Info (Theory):
Curdling is the process of a curdling agent, usually an enzyme, that reacts with milk to extract milk proteins like Casein that are used primarily in cheeses like cheddar and mozzarella. There are three main ways of curdling, where we will be using buttermilk:
- Using Buttermilk as the curdling agent (The one I will be using).
- Using the enzyme Rennin, which is retrieved from inside calves stomachs.
- Using an artificial version of the enzyme Rennin called Chymosin (100% animal cruelty-free).
- 0.5 mL of Buttermilk (or 0.5 mL of the others)
- A small tube with a cap
- 10 mL of milk OR 1g of dried milk + 9mL of water (you choose)
- A funnel
- A coffee filter or filter paper
Step 1 (Setup and Mix):
The first thing you have to do is adding your milk or milk powder & water to your small tube. Then you need to add the buttermilk to the tube and start mixing for about 10 seconds.
Step 2 (Curds and Heat):
Immediately after mixing the milk and the buttermilk completely, place the tube somewhere at body temperature (37.5C). This can be done by placing the tube in your armpit or somewhere else inside your shirt. Curds can form after just 15 minutes, but if you don’t see any curds, place the tube somewhere else at just room temperature and check in every 2-3 hours until you see small clumps in the milk. I would recommend putting the tube somewhere in the kitchen or in the living room (it doesn’t smell). When the curds have formed you are ready for the next step.
Step 3 (Curds extraction):
Now that the curbs have been formed you are ready to filter the water out so you only have the curds left. You should have a cup or a glass to put your funnel into and then fold the coffee filter so it creates a small cone into the funnel. Then pour all of the contents of the tube into the funnel and filter and let it sit until it is dry.
Step 4 (Say cheese, ta-da!):
Now that all of the liquid has been filtered out into the cup below you can take the coffee filter out of the funnel and admire your creation. The cheese is not eatable as is, but this has been a walkthrough of a very important process in the cheese industry and a great example of using enzymes to create a product, every biotechnician would be proud of you right now.
Thank you for reading through this experiment, and I hope that you learned a little bit about how curdling is used in cheese production. As always if you have any questions or suggestions feel free to comment on this article below.
Just to make sure: Do Not eat the curds, they are not edible! Thank You.