How To Make First-Timer's Cheese

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Supplies you will need

  • 2-quart saucepan or stockpot
  • slotted spoon or small mesh strainer
  • 1-quart bowl


  • 1 quart (4 cups) cow’s milk, any type
  • 1/8 cup vinegar (basic white, white wine, or apple cider) OR ⅛ cup lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt to taste (sea salt, flake salt, or any salt you like)
  • Ground pepper and/or herbs of your choice (dry or fresh will work)


  1. Pour the milk into the saucepan and heat it on medium as you stir. Look for foam around the inside edges of the pot as well as little simmer bubbles coming from the bottom—not a rolling boil, but close.
  2. When you see the bubbles as described, start slowly pouring in the vinegar (you may not need it all) and stir gently to incorporate it until you see the clear separation of curds (white solids) and whey (clearish liquid). The separation you see is called coagulation.
  3. When you see coagulation and the liquid no longer looks like plain milk, turn the heat to low and stir the curds very, very gently as you cook them for 2 more minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and use the slotted spoon or strainer to scoop the curds into the bowl while leaving behind in the saucepan as much whey as possible. When you have all of the curds, drain any whey that has collected in the bowl. 5 Add salt and pepper (and herbs, if you like) to taste. Stir them into the curds evenly and . . .
  5. Voilà, YOU MADE CHEESE! To be specific, you made a directly acidified farmer-style cheese. It will taste great crumbled onto salads, pizza, tacos, and chili or just eaten simply with crusty bread and ripe tomatoes.
  6. And did you time yourself? Well under an hour. (I told you!) Congratulations—this is just the beginning.
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