Best Cow’s Milk To Use For Cheese Making

best cow's milk to use for cheese making

Cow’s milk is processed in many ways, so what is the best cow’s milk to use for cheese making at home?  I get asked this question all the time on Ask the Cheeseman, my YouTube Q&A show.

No Access to a Farm?

Well, because many don’t have access to the farm gate for the ultimate in raw milk, I have produced a video tutorial explaining what cow’s milk is easily obtainable from major supermarkets and is okay for cheese making.

When in Doubt, Add Calcium Chloride

Don’t forget that if you know the milk has been pasteurised then please remember to add the equivalent amount of Calcium Chloride as you do Rennet to the milk.  This will encourage better coagulation of the milk into curds and whey.

So just to recap for cow’s milk;

  • Pasteurised/Homogenised milk with a fat content of at least 3.25% is okay.
  • Pasteurised/Unhomogenised milk is much better with a fat content of at least 3.25% or higher.
  • UHT or Ultra-pasteurised milk will not set a curd, and
  • Skimmed milk is useless for making cheese.
  • Lite milk Pasteurised/Homogenised with a fat content of about 1.5 to 2% fat is okay to augment your milk if your recipe calls for lower fat e.g. Parmesan.
  • Half and Half, which is usually about 10% fat is too high for cheese making.

For cream;

  • Thickened cream contains thickeners or gelatine which affects curd set
  • Double cream with ~51% fat is too thick and difficult to incorporate back into the milk
  • Single Pure cream that has about 45% fat and is pourable, should be perfect for cheese making if your recipe calls for additional cream.

Let me know what you think. Do you have a favourite brand or dairy that you source your milk from?

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20 thoughts on “Best Cow’s Milk To Use For Cheese Making

    • Gavin says:

      Hi Chris, I would have recommended Caprilac Goats milk in the past, but I have had reports from fellow cheesemakers that they are finding it difficult to set a firm curd. I am not sure of any other brands near you. Gav

  1. Esther says:

    Hi Gavin, thank you very much for sharing all the information! I already spend many hours on youtube watching your videos and learned so much!
    Currently during the lockdown, I can only buy milk of 3.0% in the supermarket. I would like to make feta cheese and cheddar. Would you recommend to increase the total fat content to 4% in my cooking pot with cream (30%) or will this have a negative effect on the curd?

    • Kim says:

      Hi Esther, you can add in about 50g of cream per 1 litre of milk, which should take it up to the require level without any issues with curd set.

  2. John Fletcher says:

    Hi Gavin. My question is the same as Trish asked on 13 November 2018. That is “With my own cows what do I leave out to make your recipes with cheese made from my girls/cows ?” Could you email me too please ?

    • Gavin says:

      Hi Luke. Yes, as it is the pasteurisation process that destroys the soluble calcium which the calcium chloride replaces. The unhomogenised milk will also help with the curd structure as the fat globules are larger than in homogenised milk.

  3. Mike in Canada says:

    Hi Gavin,
    I watched the Parmesan video. You used 14 litres of milk. If cutting the recipe in half can everything be safely cut in half? I know sometimes this isn’t the case.

  4. mrs.steinacker says:

    Hi Gavin,
    Brand new to this & I’m an American so please be patient. I was wondering if there was a difference in the Direct Inoculation MOT 092 Thermophilic Starter Culture & Thermophilic Starter (DS)?
    Thanks much!!!


  5. Amanda Barkman says:

    Have been watching your videos and learning ALOT! What would cause my curds to break down when making cheddar cheese. I can’t get them to set. When I cut the curd they are beautiful but then when I stir them they break apart. We are using straight from the cow milk so I’m not sure what the exact fat content is. We have cross breeds (holstein and jersey) also lineback.
    I have been successful in making Mozz. cheese, but not cheddar?
    Any suggestions would be welcome!

  6. Erica says:

    And that explains why my first attempt at cheese making failed! Here I was thinking I was being fancy buying the Macro Organic milk.. Now I know why I didn’t get a curd set, despite being pedantic with following the recipe’s instructions to the tee.. Just discovered your YouTube channel – fantastic :-)! Thanks so much for all the recipes and tips.

  7. larrymacaluso says:

    Whats the perfect fat content in milk to make cheese? A store bought milk that has a 3.25% fat content how much 45% cream do you add per gallon.

  8. Nabil Mansour says:

    By the way, I very much liked your episode on types of milk for cheesemaking; it is very beneficial and useful, especially for urban residents. So many thanks for all your efforts in sharing knowledge and experience. Keep it up!

  9. Nabil Mansour says:

    Dear Gavin,

    Greeting from Beirut, Lebanon!

    I really enjoyed watching many of your videos on youtube, and enjoyed every single moment watching you passionately making cheese. you have all the ingredients of those great teachers and educators, so congratulations! It has been a dream for me to end up doing nothing but bread and cheese, but never had the chance to fulfill the second. now may be it I have a better chance to follow the steps of a master. My question is whenever you put the milk container on the stove, I guess the fire should always be on beneath at all times, even at the time whenever you add the culture or the rennet and leave the mixture to rest for 5 minutes, for 10 minutes, or even 20. I simply ddi not get the continuous heating factor, or simply put off the fire whenever the mixture is at the rest period. Sorry for that naive question 🙂

    Thank you indeed for your kind response.

    Kindest regards,

    Nabil Mansour

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