Grade Level: 3rd - 6th; Type: Food Science
To discover whether it is possible to make your own cheese at home.
The purpose of this experiment is to find out how easy or difficult it is to make cheese in your own kitchen using milk, lemon juice and cheese cloth.
- What are some of the benefits to eating cheese?
- Are the benefits the same for eating cheese with live cultures the same as those for eating cheese without live cultures?
- What are curds and whey?
- How did the invention of cheese help different cultures?
The science of making cheese dates back thousands of years. Many different human cultures have made cheese throughout history. The invention of cheese was important to these societies because it allowed them to have a source of protein on hand that did not spoil as quickly as fresh milk or meat. Aged, hard cheeses, in particular keep for long periods of time in cool places, such as in caves. With an available source of protein, cultures that learned to make cheese could devote their attentions to other matters, such as inventing new technology, or engaging in artistic endeavors.
- 1 gallon whole or buttermilk
- The juice of a lemon
- Cheese cloth
- A few heavy books
- A draining board
- A stove
- A strainer
- A slotted spoon
The materials needed for this experiment can be bought at a grocery store.
- Pour the milk in a large sauce pan.
- Bring the milk to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to low.
- While stirring the milk continuously, pour in the juice from one lemon (about 1/3 of a cup).
- The milk will curdle, meaning that the milk fat (curds) separates from the liquid in the milk (whey).
- Allow the milk to cool slightly.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove as many of the curds from the milk as you can and place them in the cheese cloth.
- Pour the rest of the milk through the strainer. You can keep the whey if you would like. It is drinkable.
- Transfer the remaining curds that are in the strainer into the cheese cloth.
- Gently roll the curds up in the cheese cloth.
- Place the cheese cloth on a draining board and place a few heavy books on top.
- Allow the cheese to drain for two hours.
- Enjoy. Place any uneaten cheese in the refrigerator. It is best to use the cheese within three days.
- Experiment with other types of cheeses as time allows. There are several soft cheeses that can be made quickly and easily at home. Many recipes are available through the internet or cookbooks.
Terms/Concepts: Fermentation; Milk; Acid; Bacteria Culture; Harmful bacteria; Beneficial bacteria
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.