Homemade Cheese Without Fancy Supplies

I just realized that I neglected to mention the results of my attempt at cheese-making!  To my surprise, it actually turned out quite well.  I took it with us to the potluck last night, and it disappeared quickly, with many compliments.  It was eaten so rapidly, that I didn’t get a picture of the final product.  

I kept the heat at a low temperature to preserve the benefits of the raw milk.  I added some of our homegrown, potted chives to it for a fun flavor. 
Since this is my first attempt at cheese-making, I didn’t have any of the “fancy” equipment (a cheese press, etc.)  Ok, any of you advanced cheese-makers can just close your eyes- but here’s my version of a cheese press:
Can you spy the cheese at the bottom, squished between two plates?  On top of that, I placed my heavy stoneware baking pan, and lots of bulk goods!  The collective weight was enough to press the cheese!  I also didn’t have any cheesecloth, and didn’t feel like buying any.  I used an old, *clean,* thin, large pillowcase.  It worked perfectly!  
Since this was an experiment for me, this recipe may be a bit unconventional. It is a compilation of various tips I gleaned from different sources.  We all ate the cheese with no ill effects, so at this point, I’m  assuming I didn’t do anything horribly wrong! :) So, here’s my recipe:
Raw Milk Cheese with Chives
2 quarts Raw Milk (cream can be skimmed off)
2 cups Whey, Optional
7 drops of liquid rennet or 1/2 rennet tablet (dissolved in water)
2 tsp Sea Salt
1-2 Tbls. Fresh Chives, minced
Wash your hands and equipment well to keep everything sterile!  Warm the milk and whey together on the stove in a non-aluminum pot to 90 degrees.  Add rennet, and let sit overnight until firm (a jelly/tofu-like consistency).  At this point, much of the whey comes to the top.  Slice the curds into about 1/2 inch “cubes” (just cut in a grid pattern as best you can; uniformity is not crucial). 
 Over a large bowl, slowly pour as much of the whey as you can into the cheesecloth (or pillowcase!) to let it filter through.  Then pour in the rest of the whey and curds.  Hang the cloth with the curds in it, above the bowl to drain for a couple hours (try it knotted, hanging from a cupboard door). When it appears that all the whey has drained out, place the curds into a bowl.  (Try to squeeze a last bit of whey out, before you remove the curds.)  Stir in salt and chives, to taste.  (Yes, you can munch on the squeeky cheese curds, if you want!) A saltier cheese will have more of a feta taste; less salt will be a milder cheese.  
Place the cheese in between two large plates.  You can wrap the curds in a clean cloth, if desired, to soak up more of the whey.  Pile lots of heavy stuff on top to press it. (Obviously, if you happen to have a cheese press, use it!)  Press it for several hours.  More whey will get pressed out of the cheese, and the curds will get pressed together.  When it’s done, you will be able to slice the cheese, although it is still a bit of a crumbly texture.  Just pull off the heavy stuff when you get tired of waiting, and see if it’s the way you want it.  :)  
Save all the whey you drained out!  You can use it to soak grains in recipes, or use some to add into your next batch of cheese-making for flavor.  
I don’t know if this cheese will melt, as I haven’t tried that.  (I have a suspicion that it probably won’t though.)  This cheese would be wonderful mixed in salads!  
Visit Tammy’s Recipes for more Kitchen Tips!  
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