Cheese Making Merit Badge, Expert Level, Part II

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,602 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,898 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life  

After my cheese was ready, I got Mr. Wonderful to heat up the ol’ smoker. This was what I gave him for a birthday present and he’s a bit … cantankerous and possessive about it.

To put it mildly.

I’m not allowed anywhere near it without his hovering and supervision.

Sheesh. Attempt to smoke salmon without reading the instruction manual one time, and you’re branded for life.

While he got things heated up and practiced giving me the stink eye, I went back to the kitchen to check on my mozzarella balls. While there, I mixed up a batch of Gouda to smoke (I didn’t want the mozzarella to get lonely). It seems weird, doesn’t it, that making your own cheese is less time consuming (not to mention less expensive) than getting in your car, driving to the supermarket, finding a place to park, locating the cheese aisle, getting in line, paying, remembering where you left the car, and driving all the way home again?

Well, when I put it that way, maybe it’s not so surprising.

Anyway, making my own cheese is practically second nature by now, so I thought I’d share my handy-dandy recipe for The Most Delicious Homemade Gouda That Will Ever Pass Through Your Happy Lips. From now on, we’ll just call it M.D.H.G.T.W.E.P.T.Y.H.L. (I’m all about efficiency. You know.)

In order to start making your own homemade Gouda cheese, you have to begin by making mesophilic starter culture. Now, the one and only ingredient for mesophilic starter culture is buttermilk. Yep, it isn’t just for ranch dressing any more or Sunday biscuits.

Pour 2 cups of cultured (this is important−read the label!) buttermilk and let it sit for 6–8 hours at room temperature, until it has reached a yogurt-like form. Once it reaches this consistency, you put it into an ice-cube tray and freeze it. That’s it!

There are only two more ingredients needed to make Gouda cheese: rennet tablets and milk.

Warm 1 gallon of milk to 85°F, then add 4 ounces of mesophilic starter culture (about 4 ice cubes). Next, dissolve 1/4 of a rennet tablet into cold water. Hot water will destroy the rennet enzymes. After that, pour the rennet into the milk and stir for about 5 minutes. Let it sit for 1–2 hours. Use this time to convince Mr. Wonderful to lift the restraining order between you and the smoker.

When the milk reaches a firm curd, cut the curd into 1/2-inch squares. Set it in the oven at 102°F. Once the curd reaches 102°F, carefully remove 3 cups of whey from the top surface. Replace with 3 cups of water. Reheat to 102°F and repeat the process 3 times.

Drain the cheese onto paper towels or cheesecloth, then press the cheese with 45 pounds of weight for 3-1/2 hours. You can use bricks wrapped in aluminum foil. Or overdue library books. Just kidding! Pat dry the cheese, then stick it in the refrigerator and let it age for up to 25 days. Use this time to snack on your smoked mozzarella.

Don’t forget to flip the cheese about every 3 days. Voila! Smoke away …



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Cheese making looks like so much fun but I know if is a lot of work and you have to have the right milk with butterfat content to get the best end product. No doubt Jersey cows produce rich and creamy milk for this recipe and I bet it tastes out of this world!

  2. jaylyn morehouse says:

    Thanks for posting this! So do you make your own buttermilk? I’ve been making it lately, as a result of making butter, and am trying to find more uses for what to do with it.
    Also, what type of milk do you use? I’m guessing whole, but any other specifics?

    • MaryJane says:

      Yes, we make cultured buttermilk like you buy in a store–different than the “old-fashioned” buttermilk left from making butter that is good for baked things like biscuits or pancakes, waffles, etc. It’s also good for your garden but not indoor plants because it can attract bugs. We have cows. Straus Family Creamery sells great whole milk. Also, Organic Valley has a non-homogenized “grass-milk” (cows eat only grass) that’s fantastic. See if you can find either of those.

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