A lot of people are interested in my cheesemaking. Everybody loves cheese and turning everyday grocery store milk into something so delicious and amazing seems like magic. I guess it is a form of magic, actually. The problem is that cheesemaking is also a lot of work. It takes patience, time and a lot of trial and error. If you are up for the challenge, I highly recommend it. What I do not recommend is doing it without a friend or a more experienced cheesemaker to show you the ropes. Most cheesemaking recipes are fairly vague. They assume you know what it means to “rehydrate the innoculants” and the rennet and that you cannot do it with chlorinated water; that you know the proper size to cut curds for various types of cheese and you know what a “clean break” is, that you have “dairy wash” on hand and that you can tell the difference between the beautiful necessary molds required to properly flavor your cheese and the ones that popped up because you did not sanitize your workspace well enough. The best part about homemade cheesemaking is that it is very rewarding and once you learn the basics, they sky is the limit to what you can do with a few simple ingredients. So, do not let me scare you. Anyone can make cheese.
For the beginner, I would recommend starting with chevre. Chevre is a creamy fresh goat’s milk cheese. Goat’s milk is easy to work with and fairly easy to find in a non-ultra pasteurized form. Most milks will not coagulate properly once they have been ultra-pasteurized without adding calcium choride. Since, chevre is a fresh cheese you do not need to worry about aging the cheese or growing proper mold. It is also easy to flavor with herbs to make delicious treats.
The basic process for most cheeses including chevre involves heating the milk to the proper temperature, adding innoculants and rennet, cutting the curd and then draining the whey. I hope to be posting some step by step lessons here in the future, but if you are really excited to get started, everything you need can be found at these two websites: http://www.cheesemaking.com/ or from my good friend, Steve Shapson at http://www.thecheesemaker.com/. Steve is even having a Cyber Monday sale and it is good through tomorrow.