Make Your Own String Cheese!

Homemade String Cheese

String Cheese is fun to make, and the boys will drop everything for a piece. In the final stage of melting the curd, I stretch it like taffy, fold it, and stretch it again to make long fibers that pull apart just like the string cheese from the store. It is not supposed to be aged like cheddar, so if it gets devoured before it completely cools that is a good thing. Bread Making Day often starts like this because the leftover whey makes excellent bread.



It took several tries to get it right. I followed the basic directions for American Mozzarella by Dr David Fankhauser and, over and over, I could not get a "clean break." The resulting cheese would be soft, but not melt like mozzarella. I suspect that the milk available from our local grocery store might be a factor since only pasteurized milk can be legally purchased in Iowa. The big brands seem to have a longer shelf life on the label; perhaps their processing facilities "flash" it at a higher temperature. Ultra-pasturized milk will not work at all, and organic milk from local dairies works best. For the best results, I have slightly modified Dr Fankhauser's instructions by increasing the rennet, citric acid, and the first setting time.

1/2 gallon milk (whole or 2%) raw or pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized
1 cup water, boiled and reduced to room temperature
1/2 tab rennet (or equivalent in vegetable based rennet drops)
3/4 tsp citric acid

Start off by chilling the boiled water in the freezer. I measure the water into two portions- a quarter cup and an eighth cup- in small glass bowls and place them in the freezer until ice barely starts to form on top.

To a quarter cup of cold water, add the rennet and stir well. To the eighth cup of cold water, add the citric acid and stir well.




Gently warm the milk to 88F (31C,) stirring constantly. Do not let the milk get hotter than 88F.




Stir the citric acid mixture into the milk. Stir the rennet mixture into the milk. The acid and cold shock should start curdling in the milk, and the rennet will bond the curds. Put a lid on the pot and leave it undisturbed for two or three hours. If you have errands to run and the milk sits longer, that is okay.




Wait for a clean break. Some of the curds may sink to the bottom. You should be able to stick your finger into the curds at the top and slice through them without any gelled liquid sticking to your finger. The whey is the yellow-green liquid between the curds and should be clear.



With a long knife, gently cut one-inch strips lengthwise then widthwise. Gently heat the mixture to 108F (42C) and hold that temperature for about thirty-five minutes, stirring every few minutes. Do not heat the mixture over 108F. This can be tricky. I heat it to 108F then turn off the heat. Every few minutes I check the temperature and return it the the heat if needed. If you get distracted and leave the mixture longer than thirty-five minutes, there is no harm as long as the heat is off.




Strain the mixture through a clean, non-terry dish towel. Set the whey aside for another purpose, and allow the curds to drain for at least fifteen minutes.




Transfer the curd to a pyrex dish. Stir in quarter to half a teaspoon of salt or lite salt.*

Microwave the cheese on high for forty-five seconds. With a mixing spoon, press the curds against the back of the dish. Pour off any liquid, then stir to distribute the heat. Microwave for another twenty seconds. If the curd is not melted yet, give it another ten seconds.

Stir the cheese with spoon until it is cool enough to touch. Gently knead the curd and it will become a small ball of cheese in your hand.

Melt the cheese again for about fifteen seconds in the microwave. Lift it with the measuring spoon and pour it back into the cup. Do this again, pulling the cheese as long as you can. As soon as it is cool enough to touch, stretch the cheese with your hands, fold it in half, and stretch it again. Stretch it and pull it a few more times, then shape the cheese into a rope.




Shout, "Come and get it!" (If you cannot eat it right away, store it in a small, airtight container. You can reheat it and restretch it just before serving. The original directions by Dr Fankhauser suggest making the cheese into a ball and soaking it in salt water to draw out more moisture. I have never had success with that step, and the boys love their cheese fresh and warm, so all is good if I skip it and serve it right away.)


*Salt is a preservative. More salt is needed if you plan to age your cheese. Since we eat it right away, we can do with just a little for taste.


For more natural food recipes, visit Real Food WednesdaysGluten Free Wednesdays, Home is Where the Heart Is, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Tutorial Tuesdays the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Healthy 2 Day Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday,  Thriving on Thursdays, the Friday Vegetarian Potluck, Frugal Friday,  the Weekend Whatever,  Foodie Friends Friday, Make Your Own Monday,  Monday Mania, Martha Monday and Fat Tuesday.


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15 comments:

  1. What a great tutorial! I can't wait to give this a try with my kids.

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  2. Have always wanted to make my own cheese. I will have to give this a try. Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friends friday.
    http://marlys-thisandthat.blogspot.com

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  3. This is an excellent tutorial! I really enjoyed this post. Homemade string cheese would be so much healthier than store bought!!

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  4. My kids recently developed a fondness for string cheese. I have to try this with them.

    I'm including a link to this post in a roundup post I'm doing on Thursday on my blog. If you have any other posts about lunch box ideas, please come link them up at http://frugallocalkitchen.com/blog/

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  5. Love the tutorial and thanks for posting. Any ideas for doing it without a microwave? Does it need to reach a certain temp and could I stick it in the oven for that? Or, is it just for pliability?
    Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Traditionally, the curds are placed in hot water instead of the microwave. The purpose of this step is twofold: heating the curds expels more of the whey and binds them into cheese. Here is a hot water method tutorial I found: http://goldenagecheese.com/index_files/mozzarellastretching.htm

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  6. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures' Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back tomorrow when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)

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  7. Just a tip: If you use calf's rennet or vegetable rennet, you will get a much better break. The junket rennet he suggests is designed for custards, so it has a much softer set. Ask me how I know, lol!

    gfaftermidnight.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. You are so right! I try to stick to ingredients I can get locally, but getting a better quality rennet would sure make it easier! Not using high-temp pasteurized milk helps a lot, too.

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