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March 12, 2012

Elsewhere...

There was a spell a few years back where I got into cheese-making. There were several batches of mozzarella, mascarpone and cream cheese, and a gouda, a Monterey Jack , and a traditional cheddar. Equipment was acquired, including a small fridge that is supposed to pretend it's a cave.

I didn't make cheese at all last year. I still make yogurt once or twice a month, but that's about it. It's not that cheese is difficult to make, exactly, but it is time-consuming. The hard cheeses didn't quite come out the way I wanted, probably due to cheese's sensitivity to subtle variations in temperature. Generally speaking, the process for making cheese is pretty consistent between varieties, with the major difference being how hot the milk gets for how long at which part of the process. And it's a lot of time invested (all day + pressing time + drying time + aging time) for a couple pounds of cheese. I'd need, at the very least, a large and steady supply of surplus milk, and possibly some additional equipment to handle the volume, to make regular (hard) cheesemaking worthwhile.

I still don't have goats. I'd have to move to be able to have goats. And, when it comes down to it, I'm actually pretty sure I don't want goats. I'm just not excited enough about the perks of livestock (milk, fiber, meat, eggs, cuteness) to sign up for the responsibilities (feeding, milking, mucking, shearing, butchering, keeping the does knocked up, miscellaneous veterinary tasks, etc).

But fresh cheeses, those are way less of an investment. Spend a little time (some of it sometimes actually happens in a yogo-therm and requires very little participation from me) and I can have cheese ready to eat in a matter of hours. I really should make cream cheese more often!

Or this cheese:
lemon cheese

This is a lemon cheese and it's so easy! Heat milk to 175 degrees, add approximately 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (just enough to get it to thoroughly curdle), then let it drain for a few hours. Soft, crumbly, just a hint of lemon flavor. It's tasty on a robust pasta sauce. It would probably go well in a lasagne. It'd be awesome on tacos or enchiladas.

Thanks to Sustainable Eats for the dairy themed month in the year-long Urban Farm Handbook Challenge and to Eating Rules for the lemon cheese how-to. Just the reminder I needed to try a simple cheese that's been on my list for a while. And a nice reminder that I don't need to always go for the complicated projects; the periodic fresh cheese is just as valid a cheesemaking experience. And it's got that almost-instant gratification perk!

4 comments:

  1. Looks and sounds yummy! Have you read Blessed Are the Cheesemakers? A fun quick read and on theme for today.

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    1. No, I don't think I've read that one. I googled for it, though, and found a relevant Life of Brian quote... Blessed indeed are the cheesemakers!

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  2. I've always wanted to try making fresh cheese - it looks so nice! A friend of mine does the whole nine yards with brie and things like that, but it seems a bit excessive when NZ cheeses are so nice! But the ricotta and other fresh cheeses aren't that easy to get and are comparatively quite expensive so it would actually make sense on a number of levels! I have a cheese-making book in my wishlist at the Book Depository, maybe I should revisit it!

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    1. I've not tried brie... love to eat the stuff, but the blooming rind thing seems really intimidating in the kitchen. Wouldn't want the wrong stuff to bloom! But the fresh cheeses are pretty accessible. For books, I recommend Ricki Carroll's Home Cheesemaking. I get cultures from her site (cheesemaking.com), but that'd be international for you.

      I've not mastered a true ricotta (which is made from the whey leftover from other cheeses - there's never enough fat/solids left in my whey). But I can send you how-tos for the mozzarella and the cream cheese if you want. Hazel might get a kick out of cheesemaking; Caitlyn won't stand still long enough!

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