I got an email from someone out of the blue recently asking for some resources on home cheesemaking. So I put together a list and sent it off. Since I had it already laid out, I figured I might as well throw it into a blog post for any future queries.
The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company has a great and very affordable kit: 30 Minute Mozzarella & Ricotta Kit. If you decide to move beyond mozzarella and ricotta, they also have a whole array of supplies for the home cheesemaker.
Another place to get supplies is Beverage People, located in Santa Rosa, CA, an hour north of San Francisco. Or if you live near Portland, check out Urban Cheesecraft. Stephanie says “don’t forget about Dairy Connection.” I’m sure there are many others, but these are the ones I know about.
Assuming that you don’t have access to a cow, goat, sheep, or water buffalo for milking, I cannot recommend enough that you use good milk in your cheesemaking. Try to find pasteurized, unhomogenized (or cream-top) whole milk. That’s the milk where the cream rises to the top. Making cheese with unhomogenized milk results in a much firmer curd.
As far as books go, I would recommend Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheese Making or 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes (which Stephanie prefers). Culture Magazine is another great resource for cheese lovers and makers alike. If you read French, J’aime le Fromage… is full of great information on many French cheeses.
If you want to start making aged cheeses, you might want to consider getting a wine fridge with digitally set temperature. I found ours on Craigslist, but you can also get one new from the Wine Enthusiast. And bonus: if you ever stop making cheese, chances are you won’t stop drinking wine!
Finally, for making harder cheeses, you’ll need to fashion a cheese press of some sort. We built our own, but they can be purchased as well.