Valley Bounty: Make Your Own Cheese

Basic cheeses are easy to make, and combine the wonder of a science experiment with the pleasures of eating. Making cheese can be as simple as adding a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice to a gallon of nearly boiling milk, then draining the whey from the solids, wrapping the curds in a clean dishtowel and putting a weight (try a cast iron frying pan) on top for an hour or so. Or—even easier—drain delicious local yogurt until it’s spreadable.  These are good projects to do with kids, celebrating both dairy month and the end of school.

By Margaret Christie of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA).


Finding local or regional milk is easier than you might think — most of the milk produced by our region’s dairy farmers is processed and sold regionally, in New England and New York. The processing plant for every dairy product is listed right on the container, so if you are curious about where your milk or dairy product is processed you can look it up here. Or you can buy dairy products directly from farmers at farm stands, farmers’ markets, or via home delivery — of course we have a list here! Read more about dairy production in our region here.

If your interest in cheesemaking grows, New England Cheesemaking Supply Company in South Deerfield offers supplies, classes, and lots of information.

And if you don’t want to bother making cheese yourself—or want to supplement your own with the varied and delicious cheeses made by professionals—here’s our list of local cheesemakers.


One basic cheese made from adding acid to milk is paneer. I’ve used this recipe with good success—it includes directions for both making the cheese and using it in Saag Paneer, a creamy spinach and cheese dish. I

Here’s a nice how-to, with photos, on simple cheese-making with kids.

And here’s a how-to on yogurt cheese.