Earlier this week, we began our series on cheese-making with a basic overview of the materials you’ll need and the steps you’ll need to take to make to make some cheese.

Today we’re going to talk about milk.

The first thing you need to know, here, is that any milk will work. Cheese is milk, so if what you’re starting with is actual milk, you’ll wind up with cheese. The characteristics of that cheese, however, will vary based on the milk you choose.

Full Fat

Use whole milk for this. We’re not trying to tell you how to live your life, but just trust us on this one: You want whole milk. This is because the flavor and texture of cheese depends on the fat and protein within it, so it’s pointless to use milk that has lower fat content. You’ll just wind up with a smaller yield from your effort.

Animal Milk

Milk comes from mammals. Almonds are not mammals. Nor is soy. If you were really committed to it, and were a total weirdo, you could make cheese from the milk of dogs or cats or any sort of animal that nurses its young. But you don’t want to do that. You want to stick with cows, goats and sheep as the source of your cheese milk.

Raw vs. Pasteurized

You can use pasteurized milk and make some perfectly excellent cheese. It’s probably even a good idea to start your cheese-making endeavors by using pasteurized milk, because it’s easier to find and reduces the number of variables in your process. But, eventually, you may find yourself wanting to switch to raw milk, which can only be purchased at farms. The advantage of raw milk is that it will render a more complex flavor profile in your final product. Be sure to choose it from a good supplier, too. Happy, well-fed cows make better milk.

And that’s about all there is to it. So get started, and if you find a good milk source, by all means let us know.