Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Master Cheesemaker, amateur edition

Living in America's Dairyland for more than six years now, I can attest that cheese (and attendant dairy products) truly is everywhere. I had never seen a cheese section so large as that at Woodman's (also the largest grocery store I'd ever been in) nor had I ever gone to a school where cheese was made on-site or where you could become certified as a master cheesemaker, or lived in a place where cheese curds are as ubiquitous as Coke and Pepsi. So it's really a wonder that took me so long to try to make some of my own.

I've been on a DIY food kick of late--my boyfriend and I have been brewing beer, growing mushrooms (edible not hallucinogenic... at least that I know of), and growing herbs, among other things, in our rather small place.

Enter the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company hard cheesemaking kit (for some reason I got two of them in the mail so the cheese gods must really want me to make some cheese). The kit was labeled for "beginners" but flipping through the instruction booklet, "beginner" must mean daughter of a milkmaid or at least a native of a dairy state (my hometown, Redmond, WA, is known for many of things, none of them milky). But I pushed on, confident in my abilities...

I decided to make feta, mostly because many of the other options, cheddar, colby, monteray jack, needed to age and wouldn't be ready until fall 2009--I'm not known for my patience. And despite lacking what appeared to be necessary equipment (who has a pot big enough for two gallons of milk that will then fit inside of another pot?), I did the best I could and produced, in 12 hours or so, a fairly passable feta. The instructions were a tad unclear at points--what exactly does "cut into convenient-sized blocks" mean?--but if it looks like feta and smells like... well, cheese, it must be okay. It might taste more feta-y if I had used goat's milk but cow is what I had so cow is what I used.

Master cheesemaker, here I come.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

And I thought making bread was time consuming! Can I please try some of this???