Monday, August 11, 2008

makin' cheese

i enjoy making cheese. i got into making cheese when i was goat sitting my friend lorene's milk goats a few years ago. i had to milk them twice a day and had oodles of goat milk around. i bought a package of rennet at the amish bulk goods store and jumped right in. i use the recipes on dr. fankhauser's website, since his recipes are geared for people like me, the small home cheese maker. there's no special equipment or cultures to buy to make most of the cheeses featured on his website. i like that his recipes allow you the opportunity to try cheese making before dumping big $$ into cheese making supplies.

we have a small flock of sheep. the price of sheep cheese is just out of our cheese budget, so we decided to make some of our own. we milked our ewes, (easier than it sounds), and after a few milkings, had enough to make some cheese. sheep milk is surprisingly good. it's light and sweet. i usually make a basic hard cheese which takes about two days. i add whatever herbs are available, or the family favorite, pesto.

i'm not going to give out cheese making instructions here. the link above does a great job. i'm not an expert, just enthusiastic about making my own food. there are plenty of other sites out there with instructions.

the hardest part about making cheese, in my experience, is getting the chemistry right. yes, there is lots of chemistry in cheese making. think about it. there are hundreds if not thousands of different kinds of cheeses out there. and, for the most part, the ingredients in all cheeses are the same--milk, cultures, rennet, salt. most of the difference in the various types of cheeses is in how these ingredients are combined and at what temperature. i have occasional "cheese disasters" where the curds don't set up right. i have forgotten about the cheese and ended up with a big pot of yogurt too. the chickens and pigs don't mind, as they are the recipients of most mistake cheese attempts.

but when i am successful, look out! friends and family love my pesto goat cheese. it doesn't last long around here. ricotta cheese is an easy cheese to make. extra sustainability points for making ricotta, since you use the whey drained from the curds in your previous batch of cheese. my husband, cameron, came up with a great plan for pressing cheese, ratchet straps. this pressed the cheese quickly and thoroughly.
i'm thankful we have more than one refrigerator. we wrap the cheeses and allow them to cure in the utility room or barn frig. it's easier to put the cheese in a refrigerator other than my kitchen frig so it's "out of sight and out of mind". that way i have my cheese to share on special occasions.

and there you have it....homemade pesto cheese!

1 comment:

sak said...

This looks so yum!