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Homemade Velveeta

May
11


Updated 05/21/10.
The perfect homemade Velveeta has been a work in progress for awhile now. Cheese scientists from around the world have continued the intense and important study of the replication of this popular American processed cheese food. Okay, actually, just me and CindyP, who first made the great discovery of this cheese, and Astrid, who recently got a cow, too. Astrid milks her cow twice a day and drives a school bus twice a day, too. Astrid is a super farmgirl. I am a whiny-baby.

Anyway! My problem initially was that I had trouble melting the cheese to a smooth product, and after conquering that problem, my remaining problem has been having a hard time setting it up with my pasteurized milk.

NOTE: This seems to work best with raw milk because you get a stronger curd. It will get to a sliceable consistency starting with raw milk. With pasteurized milk, it will get to a cheese spread consistency that is still perfectly useful for nachos, casseroles, etc.

I became enamored with the crazy idea of making homemade Velveeta when I saw this post for Quick Cheese posted by CindyP at Farm Bell Recipes. It’s based on an old-fashioned, down home method of cheesemaking that involves ripening the milk with vinegar. Back in the old days, commercial starters and cheesemaking supply houses, not to mention online internet sales, weren’t available. Farm wives made cheese how they could. Vinegar is still a perfectly valid way to make cheese, but the yield can be low. When I saw this recipe started with 2 1/2 gallons of milk, resulting in 1 1/2 pounds of cheese, I was fascinated with the idea of updating it to a higher yield on less milk. And equally fascinated with the promise of a Velveeta-style cheese. My kids love Velveeta! And I always feel a little guilty sticking it in their macaroni and cheese. Was a homemade Velveeta really possible? I had to find out! All I needed was the right cheese to replace the old-fashioned, low-yield vinegar-based recipe.

My favorite go-to soft cheese lately is lactic cheese. It’s a high-yield recipe on just one gallon of whole milk. It looks and acts like cream cheese, but without any cream, leaving me my cream for butter, whipped cream, coffee cream, and other delectable purposes. It’s also a forgiving recipe that lets me neglect it mercilessly while it’s in the making, which suits my busy schedule just fine.

Please do not be put off by the words mesophilic starter in this recipe. They’re just words. Mesophilic starter is just some stuff that comes in a little white packet and you just tear the top off the packet and dump it in your milk. It’s no big deal.

You can order starters from any cheesemaking supply company. I get mine here. (You can also purchase liquid rennet, cheese coloring, and butter muslin–a fine cheesecloth used for soft cheese draining–there.) Mesophilic starter is used in many hard cheeses, and also for soft cheeses. Starter is a culture of bacteria used to ripen the milk, converting milk sugar into lactic acid–a necessary part of the cheesemaking process.

You can also use store-bought milk, so don’t be put off just because you don’t have a cow. Homemade cheese can be yours no matter where you live, cow or no cow!

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How to make Lactic Cheese:

1 gallon pasteurized milk
1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter
3 drops liquid rennet dissolved in 1/3 cup cool water

Heat the milk to 86-degrees. Turn off the heat. Add the mesophilic starter and mix thoroughly. Add one teaspoon of the diluted rennet and stir with an up-and-down motion. Put the lid on the pot and let it sit for 12 hours. I usually do this at night before I go to bed then I take care of the cheese the next morning. Or afternoon. Sometimes I let it sit several hours longer than the recommended 12 hours just because I’m busy. This cheese is forgiving of my neglect. I love that in a cheese. As this is a high-yield recipe, the pot will be almost all curd with very little whey. I use a big slotted spoon to scoop the curds into a colander lined with butter muslin. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth and hang to drain. (You can see pics and a full tutorial about the process of hanging cheese in this post with an easy cream cheese recipe.) Hang the cheese to drain for 12 hours. This recipe yields two pounds of cheese.

There are other recipes and methods for making lactic cheese, and you can even go ahead and use the vinegar method if you want, though you may find your yield is lower. To make the cheese with the vinegar method: Heat 2 1/2 gallons of milk to 128 degrees. Slowly pour in two cups of white vinegar, stirring continuously until all the vinegar is poured in and mixed. Cover and let sit for one hour.

However you make your cheese, once you’ve got it drained, you’re ready to make Velveeta!

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How to make Homemade Velveeta:

one recipe lactic cheese, drained (or one recipe per the vinegar method)
3 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons salt*
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sweet light cream (optional–it works better for me without it)
cheese coloring (optional)

*Adjust salt to taste, more or less.

When using my lactic cheese recipe with starter above, this will yield two pounds of homemade Velveeta.

In a large bowl, mix baking soda and salt into the cheese curds. BEAT WITH AN ELECTRIC MIXER. Yes, really.

Let sit for 30 minutes. The cheese will be light and airy after the baking soda is mixed in. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the cream (if using), stirring to combine. I use a big stir-fry (wok) pan.

Add the cheese and stir to combine with the butter and cream. Melt on low heat. Add cheese coloring, if you like, while the cheese is melting. If you choose to add coloring, add as much as you like until it looks how you want it to look. You can use the cheese white, if you prefer. I used about a dozen liquid cheese coloring drops to make it look like Velveeta. In about three minutes, you should have a beautiful, smooth cheese ready to go into whatever you want to use as a mold–or just scoop into plastic tubs. If you use a mold where you can take the cheese out easily, you can slice it.

Look! Macaroni and cheese with homemade Velveeta!

Nachos!

You can customize this cheese by adding whatever you want to the cheese before pouring in the mold. Minced onions, peppers, garlic, etc.

This is a smooth, easy-melting cheese that is perfect for everything you’d use Velveeta for–and a lot of other cheeses. Macaroni and cheese, nachos, casseroles, soups, enchiladas, hot dips, grilled cheese sandwiches, anything! Leave it white, no cheese coloring, and use it on pizza like mozzarella. And unlike the “real” Velveeta, it’s not processed. It’s real cheese.

Finally, Velveeta that a mom can love as much as a kid!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on May 11, 2010  

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  1. 5-11
    2:15
    am

    What happens to the rest of the rennet?

  2. 5-11
    3:43
    am

    mmmmm….nachos…wow those look good. Good luck on the oven repair, wow that really is taking forever. Good job tho’ being without you are very talented that way :D

  3. 5-11
    5:04
    am

    What a great idea. All this talk of cheese and I have to turn Willow (my milking Shorthorn) dry in two weeks! I miss her milk so much I have even thought about a second cow…..

    Please tell me what stirring with ‘up and down’ motion means. That has had me wondering ever since I read that term in cheese recipes.

  4. 5-11
    6:14
    am

    Wow. Think it will work the same with goats milk?

  5. 5-11
    6:40
    am

    I knew if I put that recipe in there, you find a way to make it better! It’s quick and easy in the original way — for those that don’t want to get the rennet and mesophilic starter — but this yields about twice as much with 1 less gallon of milk!

    I love your mold!

    And btw, even at 6:30 in the morning, those nachos are looking very good! :hungry:

  6. 5-11
    6:56
    am

    This lady has a way with cheese! Does that look good or what? Thanks for all the ideas. You should write a book: “1001 Things You Can Do With Milk.” It would be a best seller!

  7. 5-11
    6:58
    am

    You amaze me more each day, wow! :bugeyed: I hope your family realizes how lucky they are.:hungry:

  8. 5-11
    6:59
    am

    WOW. My kids would love this. Got to give it a try.

  9. 5-11
    7:28
    am

    I have not tried to make any cheese yet. I think this may be a good place to start?? Maybe because it seems like you can use your cheese pretty soon after making…I lack a little in the patience department when trying something new. I always want to eat it right away, lol. :clover:

  10. 5-11
    8:14
    am

    Suzanne, I’ve always known there was no limit to what you could do. Now I know there is no limit of what you can think of! Who would’ve thunk? Homemade Velveta!

    Well it looks good and I’m adding it to the list of things to do one day. However I’m going to learn on Ricotta.

    Baby steps.

    Susan

  11. 5-11
    8:23
    am

    I never cease to be amazed at the things you know and do, Suzanne. You are a marvel. Today I needed an extra boost of fur and feathers so I went into the archives and looked at tons of pix of the sweet animals. Awwwwww.
    TY, Suzanne!
    :D
    Gayle

  12. 5-11
    8:53
    am

    Glenda, up and down means just use a big spoon and go down then up instead of stirring around in a circular motion.

  13. 5-11
    8:53
    am

    wow!! :sheepjump:

  14. 5-11
    8:54
    am

    Karen Anne, you can save it to use the next time (the rest of the rennet).

  15. 5-11
    9:10
    am

    Amazing and I bet it tastes better than storebought Velvetta! I am so jealous of your milk cow!

  16. 5-11
    9:48
    am

    You amaze me. I would have never thought of homemade velveeta. You need to start a list, like I Dare Suzanne…….and we come up with things for you to try to make or do. When I read your posts and see all the pics with them, it makes me believe I can do those things too.

  17. 5-11
    9:53
    am

    Melted Velveeta sandwiches with cold pickles in them, yum :-)

  18. 5-11
    10:30
    am

    How did you make the mac-n-cheese in the crockpot? That’s something I’ve been wanting to try for a while.

  19. 5-11
    10:35
    am

    no peservatives, no additives to speak of …..woooooohoooo I am going to try this! You are such a great mentor!

  20. 5-11
    10:36
    am

    oops Preservative…type faster than my brain spells lol

  21. 5-11
    11:23
    am

    Forgive my ignorance but is light cream the same as 1/2 & 1/2? I’ve only seen heavy cream in the store. Thanks! I would love to make this.

  22. 5-11
    11:25
    am

    :bugeyed: Wow – you are so good! This is by far one of the most unique and original posts. Thanks as always for sharing.

  23. 5-11
    11:28
    am

    Brenda, yes, you can use half and half for light cream. It’s similar.

  24. 5-11
    11:33
    am

    Actually, there is no reason to have to buy mesophilic starter…all you have to do is add a half a cup of cultured buttermilk to your milk and let it stand overnight in a room temperature place. Cultured buttermilk is made with a mesophilic starter. The term mesophilic is refering to the temperature at which the starter grows best. The word-part “meso” means “medium” and the word-part “philic” means “loving”, so mesophilic means “medium loving”, as in medium-temperature-loving, or room-temperature. So anyone who doesnt want to buy specially prepared mesophilic starters from a cheese company can just use plain old cultured buttermilk. For more information about bare-bones cheese-making, see Fankhaur’s Cheese Page at biology.clc.cu.edu/fankhaur/cheese/cheese.html

    p.s. I am not affiliated with Dr. Fankhaur in any way…I just find his information really very good and helpful.

    And Suzanne, I think you site is fabulous, too…you just ROCK :shimmy:

  25. 5-11
    12:05
    pm

    I seriously want to try this. Thanks for the inspiration.

  26. 5-11
    12:17
    pm

    I have no means of trying this myself, but it most certainly is interesting, looking at your photos of how you did it. It looks delicious. So, when you take it out of its mold does it look similar to a brick of velveeta? you’ve shown us a photo of it before setting up and I’m wondering what it looks like once finished? just curious. thanks for another edifying experience at CITR! :happyflower:

  27. 5-11
    12:54
    pm

    Miss Becky, sorry! Give me 5 minutes and I’ll put up some more pics.

  28. 5-11
    12:57
    pm

    I have been contemplating making cheese for some time. I have bought a book (it looks good sitting there with my other cookbooks LOL)picked up some copies of Culture magazine and now with this post on your blog, I finally feel that, Yes, this is something I can do. We’ve given up Velveeta because we thought it contained too many preservatives and additives. This sounds like an awesome alternative. Thank you for your posts and courage to always try something new.

  29. 5-11
    2:02
    pm

    Oh. Oh my………..
    I was wistful when you posted the mozzarella and farmhouse cheddar….
    I was dern tempted when you posted the cream cheese….
    Now I think you’ve done it. I HAVE to make it. There is NO OTHER CHOICE…

    Lol. Cheesemaking.com, here I come!

  30. 5-11
    2:54
    pm

    Cool! I grew up with Velveeta and I have always loved it, but I won’t use it for my family because I would like to see better ingredients. SUZANNE TO THE RESCUE!!! Awesome! I can’t wait to try it.

  31. 5-11
    4:09
    pm

    Love NE Cheesemaking Supply Co. I buy my yogurt culture from them. I’m going to have to start making some cheese too! :hungry:

  32. 5-12
    9:24
    am

    I love this! We love velveeta cheese.

  33. 5-13
    6:09
    am

    So, how does it taste. If I don’t like Velveeta but love Mozzarella, will I like it? Or will it waste my milk, since I’m not into Velveeta at all?

  34. 5-13
    7:25
    am

    Nef, it tastes similar to Velveeta.

  35. 5-13
    6:26
    pm

    Really? No kidding? I miss so much when I don’t read your blog every day. I apologize, but some mornings work starts at 4:00 in the morning. I know, all your faithful readers are saying “But Suzanne finds time to write it with all she does, you should find time to read it.” Things should calm down soon (she says).

    And wouldn’t this be way cheaper, especially if you bought the milk on sale?

  36. 5-23
    10:32
    am

    My aunt uses the buttermilk or yogourt for cultures for her hard cheeses all the time. I passed on the information to her that I found online somewhere other than Frankhauser’s site.

    Yes, his site is pretty good. It even tells you how to make your own rennet if you want too try to do so. It wounds better than anything you could buy. But you can’t be squeamish, it has…pics and all.

  37. 9-1
    3:47
    pm

    I would love to try this – is there a chance you could put this over in the Farm Bell Recipe section so I could save it to my recipe box? That way I can find it again when the mesophilic starter arrives. Thank you!

  38. 9-1
    3:51
    pm

    Joey, this is based on CindyP’s Quick Cheese recipe, which is on Farm Bell Recipes here:
    http://chickensintheroad.com/farm-bell-recipes/quick-cheese/

  39. 9-6
    9:02
    pm

    Oh my goodness, you’ve done it now. I am going to have to try this, one more thing to set out in my kitchen. It already looks like a farmers market in my house. I’m really very excited to try it, and I’m going to try it with the buttermilk culture so we shall see what happens. Thanks!

  40. 10-22
    9:38
    pm

    Ohhhh Tammy.. this looks simply wonderful! :snoopy:
    I have about 11 gallons of milk in the fridge I think I will make some cheese!
    Have you tried to double the batch? wondering if it works or not. This is with WHOLE milk right? Not removing ANY of the cream? What is the difference between adding the cream and not?
    I cant wait to give this a whorl. Oh last question.. can you freeze it? that would make it near perfect!

  41. 10-25
    7:21
    pm

    Have you ever had it turn out runny after making it with raw milk? And how long did it take for yours to settle into the mold. I made some still runny but tastes just like store velveeta to me.

  42. 10-25
    7:30
    pm

    Christina, it should form up really well with raw milk. You might need to leave it overnight to set.

  43. 10-26
    12:02
    am

    I am drooling. looks so good

  44. 11-11
    6:25
    pm

    Help….what happened to my velveeta??? I followed the directions and all was well until the melting part. It melted just fine, I combined it with the butter…..and it’s still pourable after 48 hours in the refrigerator. I can use it for a cheesey sauce but it’s not what I expected :no:

  45. 11-11
    6:31
    pm

    Tonya, was your milk pasteurized? I have trouble with it with pasteurized milk. When I use raw milk, it “gels” up like Velveeta just fine.

  46. 11-12
    9:25
    am

    Suzanne, unfortunately the only milk I have access to is pasturized. I live in NJ and selling raw milk is illegal :hissyfit: and I don’t have any milkable critters :no: Chickens, cockatiels, and dogs, but nobody of the dairy persuasion. I tried to use the cheesy sauce stuff that resulted poured over a cauliflower last night…..it melting back into what looked like mild again. Boo! Next time I may skip the melting with butter step and see what happens.

    Tonya

  47. 11-12
    9:30
    am

    Tonya, you could also try calcium chloride, though I have no experience with that.

  48. 11-12
    9:59
    am

    Thanks, Suzanne. I have some so I’ll give it a try. I bought it after my mozzarella didn’t ever get stretchy…..I thought it was my technique but maybe my milk really is the problem!

  49. 12-2
    7:58
    pm

    Hi! I’ve made this cheese several times and it tastes great, but mine ALWAYS separates. I get a nice ‘hard’ layer on top and liquid on the bottom. I use raw goat milk and have tried less heat/melting, more heat/melting, no heat/melting. It doesn’t separate with no heat, but it’s a little heavy on the baking soda ‘tang’ that way. Any ideas?

  50. 12-2
    8:37
    pm

    Mary P, I have never made this with goat milk! So I don’t know. I’m sorry.

  51. 12-5
    12:48
    pm

    I have been looking for this for awhile. I actually have to buy my whole raw milk, but I do have it available. I am putting together a order with New England Cheese, but since this is my 1st time I am confused about what rennet. Does it make a difference? If anyone knows I would appreciate the help. Thanks

  52. 7-3
    1:38
    pm

    I’ve made this twice, the 2nd time producing a much tastier, better textured cheese. The difference was the lactic cheese I made. This time, I used a buttermilk culture from NEC and the lactic cheese recipe from their site. We much prefer the flavor of this version. I highly recommend trying this using the buttermilk culture. It also set up better than my previous try. Again, the only thing I changed was the lactic cheese recipe. Here is the link: http://www.cheesemaking.com/LacticChz.html

    I also reduce the salt to 1 tsp. and we find it is enough, so I recommend starting small. You can always add, but you can’t take out!

  53. 7-3
    1:45
    pm

    Tonya: I do make this using pasteurized milk. The first time it didn’t set, the 2nd time, it did. That was the one using lactic cheese made as per the above link. I used the buttermilk culture and added the 2 drops of liquid rennet. I don’t know, but I’m guessing the tiny bit of rennet added to the lactic recipe helped.

  54. 10-22
    5:27
    pm

    In your estimation, how long do you think this will last in the fridge if it’s wrapped up tight in foil, kind of like velveeta. Because…I’ve had velveeta last for literally MONTHS!! Lots of preservatives..yuck. But I don’t use velveeta that often.

  55. 10-22
    5:33
    pm

    Carrie, I don’t know how long it would last. The longest I’ve had it in the fridge is maybe a week and a half! I use it when I make it!

  56. 4-18
    11:18
    am

    :fairy: i can’t wait to try this. My hubby makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches with velveeta he loves it so i’m makin it for him :hug:

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