Monday, October 20, 2014

Yeah, I'm a Cheesy Guy: Where there's a Will there's a Whey

Do I love cheese?  Oh god yes.  I've actually engaged in earnest debates about just how much of one's net worth one might reasonably have tied up in cheese.  Now, I was a lot younger at the time, and my net worth was only in the double digits, but still...

Another great memory:  my wife Michele once went to Spain for work and asked what kind of souvenir I wanted.  I said "cheese," and she came home with an entire wheel of Manchego.  Just thinking back on it makes me want to renew my vows.

A few years later I saw Celia Bell make cheese at home and I was enchanted. Celia's a real inspiration in the Salt Lake grow-your-own-food scene, and  the fact that she had just milked a goat beforehand  to get the milk really sealed the deal.  JEALOUS!

It wasn't long before I had gotten a couple of inexpensive DIY cheese-making kits.  One came from my mother-in-law: nice job, Jan!  The other I purchased in Salt Lake City at the Urban Farm and Feed Store

I decided to try out on of the kits, and it was super easy to use.  It also made a delicious cheese.  Fresh mozzarella with basil, in  this case.

The kit contained everything we needed,
including good directions (whew!)
The only thing we needed was a gallon
 of whole milk.

Abigail and I got after it and it found that it was an ideal project for kids to attempt with their grown-ups: there's a few different things to add, and lots of mindless stirring.

Fresh basil?  Yes please.  It was sort of an
off-the-cuff experiment, but I was actually
surprised by huge difference that it made.  I have since made it without fresh herbs and wasn't
as enthused: I'll always jazz it up from now on.

The moment when the liquid-y milk mixture separates into curds and whey is kind of neat.
All of a sudden, you have something that almost resembles cheese.

After pouring off most of the liquid, we put the
solids into a basket lined with cheesecloth so that it could continue to drain.

The cheesecloth is invaluable in helping to form the fresh mozzarella in to a ball, and to make it easier to squeeze out the remaining moisture.

One gallon of milk made a couple of good-sized
hunks of fresh mozzarella- I didn't weigh them, but it seemed like a great value to me.  And because the kits were so reasonably priced $12-20- and because they contain enough ingredients to make numerous batches, they do make good financial sense.  Not that I was too worried about it, since cheese appropriations make up such a large part of my financial portfolio, anyway.