03 August 2011

on making cheese & partying

I can't believe I haven't elaborated on this yet, but I went to a CHEESEMAKING party! I think it fulfilled a previously unacknowledged lifelong dream of mine. Liz of Brown Betty Farm graciously offered to host a bunch of up-to-no-good amateur cheesemakers at her house. Jillian, Alexis, Chris, Dianna, Erika, Ashley, my blue cooler of sangria and I showed up, ate great food and made some cheese. From scratch. Is that blowing your mind?

I'm not going to pretend that I know how to teach you about cheesemaking. We relied on library books, my copy of Home Dairy by Ashley English, a cheesemaking kit from The Homebrew Emporium and a few experienced cheesemakers. I just timidly followed directions and made a gigantic batch of ricotta while housing the incredible snacks everyone brought. Basically, though, you heat up some milk (not ultra-pasterized) and add in a little citric acid or rennet, then the curds and whey separate out and then you drain it. Voila! Ricotta! I ate it up with a spoon, I ate it on my toast, I ate it on crackers and on sandwiches and on pizzas. It is so creamy and delicious and nothing like store-bought ricotta. The mozzarella was might impressive too. I mean, it actually looked and tasted just like mozzarella. For some reason, I didn't think that would happen. Cheese used to be one of those things whose origins I didn't think about too much. Like peanuts or almonds. I never think about where those come from or how they grow somewhere and need to be harvested. I just imagine them appearing in the store when I want them. Sad, isn't it?

I've been waiting so long to show you what cheese looks when it's draining. Imagine a kitchen full of these things, hanging off the cabinet knobs.

Here we are, so proud of our tubs of ricotta. These two beginner cheese are ones I could actually make myself at home, because they don't require much space at all. Just enough room for a big stockpot to heat the milk and someplace to drain the remaining curds. Don't forget to save your whey! You can use it to make rice, bread, oatmeal, biscuits... and maybe other weird things. By-product reuse! Sounds gross, but it isn't.

More cheesemaking photos here and at the FSC Flickr Group.


  1. So bummed I missed it! Dave was teaching a grad class that night, and I couldn't get a sitter. Boo-hiss.

    The cheese hanging from the cabinet knob is hilarious, and exactly how I pictured the night going. You gals are the best!

  2. the ricotta was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.


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