I took a class recently on cheese making. The class was hosted at the Celler Homebrew store on Greenwood ave in Seattle. The class was taught by Bonny Giardina who seems very knowledgeable and passionate about cheese and cooking in general. Bonny also has HipCooks which also teaches other classes on specialty cooking.
We took the part one class all about the soft cheeses which included whole milk ricotta, mascarpone, chevre/goat cheese, and the all time ever popular mozzarella.
Cheese making was not as difficult as I had anticipated. There are basically only a handful of steps in making cheese at least that cheese that was explained in a class. You need milk and closer to the animal the better. Raw milk is the best. Pasteurized second best. And ultra pasteurized following in the back.
The milk has to be curdled in some way. There are several things that can curdle milk. One is citrus juice and the lemon is one of the better choices. There’s citric acid and that is a crystallized form that is easier to control the amount. Tartaric acid, buttermilk, vinegar, and a various assortment of rennets, are the other curdling agents. Rennet comes in animal and vegetarian forms both in liquid and powder.
The next major part of making cheese is manipulating the curds. Curds can be drained, molded, strained, pulled, or shaped. This part depends largely on what kind of cheese you might be making.
The class on soft cheese making explained a lot about milk and cheese interaction. It was not hard to understand how to make some of the more popular soft cheeses. During the class cheese was made and that should be a clue to the ease of which cheese can be made.
Making cheese at home isn’t necessarily any cheaper than buying cheese. However you have more control over what goes into your cheese. And making your own cheese provides satisfaction of being able to make your own food. Freshness may be a concern as well.
Soft cheese making is fairly safe as far as food safety goes. The cheese you make is generally eaten with in a week or two. The hard cheeses and the other soft cheeses llike brie and bleu rely on more advanced methods and more controlled environment issues and may present a challenge in keeping it from being contaminated.
Overall making the cheese we made was easy, interesting, and could come in handy around the kitchen. It is an art that you should consider picking up if you liketo cook. There are many recipes for making whole mik ricotta, mascarpone, chevre/goat cheese, and mozzarella. Whichever one looks like it works for you is the best one to try.
Bonny Giardina www.HipCooks.com
The Cellar Homebrew 14320 Greenwood Ave N. Seattle Wa www.Cellar-Homebrew.com