Over the last couple of weeks I have been playing with cheese. No, not literally playing with cheese, by playing, I kind of mean, learning about how to make simple cheese. I have had success with two different types of simple cheese that are very nice to have on hand or in my case watch disappear!
I like to know how to make things for myself because sometimes you just can't be sure what is being put into some of the commercially produced items that we tend to reach for on a regular basis. Do want to make cheese all the time? But I do want to know how to make it myself. I tend to get a great deal of satisfaction from researching, applying myself and making something as ubiquitous as cheese in my own kitchen.
I will tell you that making cheese takes patience, time and attention to detail. When you look at a recipe, you need to follow it. When you see an ingredient such as rennet, you must have it, there is no real substitution. You always want to start off with the necessary ingredients in order to have a good end result.
I have been playing with homemade mozzarella cheese for about two years. I have been successful exactly twice and I think it was by mistake both times. The other dozen times tried, it was nothing but a gloppy mess that did not set and was unable to be properly pulled. I have dumped countless gallons of perfectly good milk down the drain in the form of failed cheese. More than I would like to admit, but because we all make mistakes and it is a learning experience and all part of the journey, I will divest myself of my own pride in order to inspire others.
Cheese making is an art! It is not, however, reserved for farmers and cheese masters. It is accessible to everyone. You can find great books on how to make your own small batch cheeses at home. You can also find great supplies for making everything from cheese to yogurt at many websites. Have a look around and a whole new world will open up to you. I suggest you start small and easy like I did, by making a type of Farmer's cheese or homemade cream cheese. Simple, and delicious and very, very easy.
Just like the old saying goes, a job worth doing is worth doing well. In a world full of instant this and quick that. Cheese is still one of those things that takes time. I was recently inspired by a friend who made some quick spreadable goat cheese that she seasoned with fresh chives and other herbs from her garden. Watching her I knew that I could do that. Although I am sans a goat, I did not let that stop me. Off I went to the Amish market for some fresh whole milk.
Cheese is really nothing more than milk solids that have been separated from their water or whey. In layman's terms we are removing the water from the milk. What results is the thick, milk solid that all cheese is made from. The cheese I made, similar to my friends, was soft, spreadable and delicious. It did not contain rennet and did not require time to rest or incubate and become a curd. This cheese was super simple and everyone can do it!
Farmer's cheese requires nothing more than a little time, some milk, an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar and whatever seasonings you wish to flavor your cheese. I made two different types of cheese from one half gallon of milk. Flavored cheese spread with salt and Herbs du Provence and the other half I turned into the most decadent whipped cream cheese you have ever tasted. Simply divine and does not compare to what is sold as cream cheese in the market today.
I think making cheese can be very rewarding, but be warned, if your family is anything but mine it will disappear quickly. Between bagels, toast, crackers and simple snacking this cheese might not last the afternoon. Make sure you try and put some aside for your breakfast, that way at least you can bask in your hard work if only for a moment.
Now go do something cheesy! Make some cheese!
You can see how I made this wonderful cheese here:
You can get a printable recipe and instruction here: