First published Nov 2014 on The History Girls

My passion for food history began with an interest in traditional culinary techniques and how cooks of the past made the best of what the season had to offer. I’d always wanted to have a go at home cheesemaking and since writing this blog post I’ve gone on to teach this simple but satisfying recipe at many workshops and festivals.

There are many tips online for producing cheese from the comfort of your own stove. As a first try I plumped for the easiest technique that required no specialist equipment. This is how I made a light, crumbly fresh cheese for the first time. It’s a great introduction to a large field of expertise that you may, or not, choose to explore further.

Lemon-y cheese

(a little like caerphilly)

Equipment needed 

Sugar thermometer

Large pan

Muslin cloth and sieve

For the cheese

1 litre unhomogenised full fat milk

Juice of 2 – 3 large lemons

salt flakes

herbs or spices for flavouring

  • Warm the milk gently in the large pan. You want to reach 74F without boiling. Stir regularly to prevent the milk from scalding on the bottom of the pan.
  • When at 74F take the pan off the heat. Pour in the juice of 2 lemons and stir well. You will see the milk start to curdle. Leave to stand for 20 minutes whilst you have a cup of tea.
  • Check what should now be curds and whey in your pan. If the whey (liquid) is clear and the curd (solids) are obviously seperated then you are ready to move onto the next stage. If not you could add the juice of the 3rd lemon and leave to stand again.
  • Line the sieve with muslin and stand over a jug or bowl. Pour the curds and whey into the sieve, collecting the liquid in your jug. Bring the edges of the muslin up and round to create a bag shape. Leave to drain completely for an hour or so.
  • Return to your cheese and squeeze the top a little to get rid of the last of the whey. Tip it out into a bowl. Using a fork mix in salt, fresh herbs etc to taste. Press the cheese down into the base of your bowl and cover.
  • The cheese should last 1 -2 weeks in the fridge.


I was suitably impressed with the ease of this recipe. You can choose vinegar or rennet instead of the lemon juice if you wish, but you MUST use unhomogenised milk. Once you’ve tracked that down it’s plain sailing!


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