You can make almost any type of cheese yourself. The calories of your cheese varies depending on the techniques and ingredients you use. You might find that your own cheese tastes better than store bought varieties, and making it is a fun way to play in the kitchen. Making your own cheese also allows you to control the ingredients and, therefore, the nutritional outcome.
Cheeses vary tremendously in their characteristics depending on the milk used, the microflora of the region and handling during the creation process. Hard cheeses like cheddar and parmesan require special cultures and equipment. Soft cheeses like Italian-style mozzarella, ricotta, farmers cheese, paneer (Indian cheese), cream cheese and Mexican-style queso fresco are the easiest to make at home because you don't need any special equipment.
Making cheese involves heating milk to form a curd and separating this curd from the leftover liquid known as whey. The outcome of the cheese is affected by the time it is cooked and aged, the temperature of the milk, the type of bacteria used to age the cheese and the type of rennet used to separate the milk protein and fat from the whey. Hard cheeses are pressed for many days, weeks or even years to extract water and concentrate flavors. Fresh cheese (such as queso fresco and paneer) are made simply by boiling milk with the addition of an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice. These cheeses do not need to age.
Calories and Fat
The ingredients you include in your homemade cheese determine its calorie and fat content. Higher fat products like cream will yield a cheese with more calories and an impressive fat content. If you use reduced fat milk, your cheese will reflect a lower calorie count and fat content. Soft cheeses (such as paneer and queso fresco) are lower in calories because they they are not compressed like hard cheeses and contain more water. For the most part, calories in homemade cheese will be similar to the calories in commercially prepared cheese. The website www.nutritiondata.com is a good resource for figuring out the calories in most types of cheese.
Using high quality fresh milk from healthy animals improves the quality of the cheese you produce. Experimenting with different milks yields interesting flavors. In addition to cows, milk from sheep, buffalo and goats make exceptional cheeses. Some people who have sensitivity to cow's milk find they react well to goat's and sheep's milk.
Soft cheese contains about 45 percent water, making it vulnerable to contamination. If you do make your own cheese, use it within a week to avoid food poisoning. Control pathogenic bacteria associated with homemade cheese by sanitizing cooking and storing surfaces, following proper temperature guidelines during cooking and cooling and washing your hands.