Since it is simple to make you can DIY. The wood used at our place is maple, but ash would be a good choice too, IMO. The rope around the hoop is to tighten it to a desired size. You also need a cloth - the hoop is just for a desired shape...
Stainless steel or wood are the things for cheese. It's expensive, but they last forever, and SS is easily sanitized. It's possible to find pots and utensils at the thrift store for cheap, too. Stainless steel colanders lined with butter muslin are perfect to drain cheeses. Cheese is like bread--a very flexible, situation/environment dependent process, so think about the intent of what you're trying to do rather than the specific gear to do it and look at what you already have that could work.
New England Cheesemaking Supply (http://www.cheesemaking.com/) is a great resource for equipment and fabulous recipes, which are very user-friendly and step-by-step. They have lots of cultures, both instant and the "perpetual", which are like sourdough starter.
If I were only spending serious cash on one thing it would be a long stemmed thermometer. Other stuff you can lay hands on, usually, but temperature control is absolutley key.
I had success making brie in stainless cake pans. I used my recipe where I drain the curd in cloth bag while I simmer the whey down to remove the water leaving the butter fat and salt and sugar to mix back into the curd. I then molded it in the cake pan with the top inoculated with the brie. I always intended to pull it out and let the brie culture grow on the other side but it would disappear from the pan before I could do that.
Cheese making is not my forte. Never tried making any more complicated than mozzarella. Stainless steel pot & wooden spoon work fine for that. No plastic involved except the protective storage cover for the thermometer. Recently decided to learn to make goat's milk gouda. Have a few young goats pastured by my mountain bees now. I get supplies from Austin Homebrew.
If the gouda experiment fails there's always cabrito. Well, either way, there will be cabrito!!! I'm thinking a cabrito quesadilla with goat milk gouda would be amazing.
Argue for your limitations and they are yours forever
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