Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cheesemaking, Or, How to Turn Milk Into Magic


Cheese -
milk's leap toward immortality.
Clifton Paul Fadiman

I'm learning to make cheese. It was on my list of 30 things I wanted to do in my 30s. And so here I go, becoming quite the curds and whey girl.

(Actually, the whey girl is Millie. Did you know that dogs LOVE whey? I mean, they love it. Millie jumps in the air for it. Anyone know why this is- that dogs love whey?)

All cheese experts advise starting with "beginner cheeses" like mozarella or cream cheese. Cheese you don't have to load in a cheese press. Cheese you don't have to know advanced chemistry to make. Me? Ha. I flipped to Home Cheese Making's recipe for Farmhouse Cheddar and dragged out the milk.

My first stab at making homemade cheddar cheese was a success. Now I'm addicted. Farmhouse Cheddar is a crumbly white cheddar cheese- kinda along the same texture as feta- that you only have to age for a month. The ingredients are easily had and so's the equipment. I found the hardest part of the cheese making process to be regulating my electric stove to keep the heat just right; too hot and the curds break, too cool and the curds don't set. But with a little (okay, a cheese truck load) of patience, I made, aged, and waxed my first round of cheese.

If you're interested in giving cheesemaking a go, start here: cheesemaking.com. And by all means, find a copy of the book I linked above and decide what you'd like to try your stove at first.

Anyone have cheesemaking tips or advice for beginners? I'd love to hear from folks who do or want to make homemade cheese. Thanks! -Brin

13 comments:

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

Good for you! I'd love to try this one day, soon now!

Brandy said...

That looks fun! Go you! Glad you got something crossed of your list. :o)

Shelley in SC said...

You never cease to amaze me, Brin! Your cheese looks fabulous, red wax and all. And, no, I have no suggestions cheese-wise, other than the Publix brand of gorgonzola is better than the Wal-Mart brand. ::sigh::

Granola Girl said...

We make cottage cheese out of any milk which has started to turn. You merely pour the milk into a open mouthed pot and leave it on the refrigerator for about 2 days after it starts souring. The milk become almost like jello consistency as it separates. Dump it onto a double boiler on the stove and stir. It will separate into cottage cheese and whey. It is awesome to eat, to bake with, or to kick gravy up about four notches of awesome.

Christine said...

What fun! I love cheese but always thought it'd be so involved. Thanks for the link. Your cheese looks wonderful!

Elenka said...

I have made farmer cheese several times. It's quite amazing that this can be done at all by normal human beings!
click below to see recipe...
farmer cheese

Vee said...

Brin, you continually impress me. While I have zero interest in cheesemaking, it's terrific that you are becoming passionate about yet another project. From soap making to cheese making, nothing is beyond your interest or ability. I should imagine that making cheese...good cheese...is very satisfying. As for me, I'm not far from Vermont so wonderful cheese products are available here.

Chanda said...

Your cheese looks great. I am so interested in learning all about making my own dairy products. I recently convinced my husband to let me keep a Reg. Jersey cow that he bought for a surrogate mother for his orphan calves during calving season. We have a farm, we have cows, why not have a milk cow. I even named her Jurney because its all going to be a new journey for me. Thanks for the inspiration. Love reading your post.

Susan said...

Wow...home made cheddar. I'm impressed. Really impressed. That you could wrap it in wax and wait. I so admire people with patiece. And thinking it would really be great grilled up on some crunchy bread.

http://chickensintheroad.com/ Lots of homemaking tips, including making cheese and milking cows and goats, candles, soap, etc.

Lindsay and Co. said...

I'm so jealous. We got goats for the sole purpose of milking them and making cheese. That was almost 2 years ago and still no cheese. But, I have high hopes for this year. Surely 4 goats' worth of milk for our little family will produce enough to make ice cream (priority #1) and cheese. :)

Lauren said...

Awesome!! Good for you for going all out with the cheddar too!

April@ Natural Nester said...

This is something I'd love to try my hand at, sometime in the future. I don't think I'm up for it yet...right now I'm experimenting with making perfect-for-us kefir and yogurt. Maybe after I conquer those two projects, I'll tackle cheese.

Jeri said...

Brin,
I do the blog and Moosletter for New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. (cheesemaking.com). Thanks for mentioning us in your post. Are you still making cheese?
jeri1000@gmail.com