That’s Lemon-Sage Cheese (With Love)

March 24, 2010 at 8:06 am

Keighty Alvarez


Mozzarella is proclaimed as the easiest cheese to make but really, it’s just the fastest.  So instead of starting with mozzarella we’re going to start with an easier cheese.

By the way, a fresh cheese is an uncooked (or barely cooked) curd that may or may not be drained of its whey.  Ricotta is a fresh, un-drained cheese and cream cheese is a drained example.

Oh and a quick note about milk. The milk you use for your cheese MUST not be ultra-pasteurized.  Most of the big names are ultra pasteurized which means that the milk is heated to 191 degrees and it kills all the organisms in the milk.  This is a fast way to make a lot of cheap milk.  But you need those organisms to make cheese!  Make sure you scour the label so that your milk is just pasteurized.  And careful, a lot of organic milks are ultra-pasteurized now too.  Of course, the best milk you could use is local, pasteurized milk.  Now, on to the cheese!

This is one of the easiest cheeses because you don’t need anything special to make it.  It is a great place to start for first time cheese makers and a big confidence booster.  This cheese is a crumbly but also spreadable cheese.  I used it in enchiladas and I also put it on toast with strawberry jam.

Here’s what you need to make this cheese.

1 gallon whole milk

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tbs chopped fresh sage

Butter muslin – a very fine cheesecloth.  Traditional cheesecloth won’t work since the holes are too big.  Butter muslin can be found at any cooking store

Pour your milk into a big pot – I used a spaghetti pot.  Heat the milk to 190 degrees, gently stirring so it won’t burn to the bottom.  Add lemon juice and incorporate it with an up and down motion – in other words, don’t slosh it around.  Do that for a few seconds.  Then turn off the heat, cover and leave the milk to set for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, check it.  If you gently push on the top of the curd, (the firmed up cheese) is the liquid underneath (whey) milky or clear?  If it’s milky, let it sit for a few more minutes.  If it’s clear, you’re done!

Line a colander with your butter muslin.  Scoop the cheese into the muslin.  Tie up the ends and hang it from somewhere.  I rigged up this rope system that allows the cheese bag to hang over my sink while it drips.  In any case, the cheese needs gravity to dry so you can do whatever you want to make that happen.  Here’s a picture I found of cheese hanging to dry.  After 2 hours take the bag down and scoop it all out into a bowl.  Add the sage and mix well.

You made cheese!  Great job!  Store this is an airtight container for at least a week in your ‘fridge.

Now that you’ve made this cheese, we can get into more difficult ones and you can feel confident!

Enjoy your cheese.





  1. Mike Feagin says:

    Great little read Keighty. Didn’t know you were getting deeper into cheese. Still just a hobby or a burgeoning profession?

    Either way, good job, can’t wait to make it myself. =)

  2. Morgan says:

    I made ricotta last night! But this one sounds way better :)

  3. LaurelKate says:

    Love the photo… of the hanging cheese(!), where the shirtless dude is all, “gramps, can you please not smoke so close to this cheese I’m making…”

  4. Raul A. says:

    This sounds so fancy, I’m excited it is easy to make!

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