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Say cheese!

A few months ago I decided to try my hand at making cheese. Did I already mention that sometimes I do weird things?

After a couple of very failed attempts at making mozzarella that yielded a white goop, which whilst edible was definitely not mozzarella, I decided to sign up for a cheesemaking class. It was fun, somewhat hands on, and I came out of it with a few cheese recipes. Did I learn how to make mozzarella there? ….Kind of: I learnt what texture and look it should have. I also bought some real rennet, which is what made the difference. Moral of the story: forget that junket rennet crap.

During the Summer I was all about cheese. Soft spreadable cheeses, fast to make – fast for cheese. I would love to try to make some real cheese – I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s a cool idea to make something and then wait months to eat it; months of careful monitoring and fretting and wondering if it’s even going to work. But that requires things that I don’t currently have, and getting them would imply that I was somewhat serious about this whole cheese thing – how stupid would I look if a got a small fridge and did all the temperature and humidity setup just to make one wheel of gouda and then decide aged cheeses are just too much work? But Alex did promise to make me a cheese press when I passed my last university class – which I did, yay me! – so maybe I should hold him to his word….

Draining the curds

Draining the curds

So I stuck mostly to soft cheeses: quark, cream cheese (so much better than anything you can buy at the store! Seriously. If you think you might actually make it – be warned, it takes about 3 days – ask and I’ll post the recipe), mozzarella, ricotta (okay, this one’s easy peasy), and a couple of others. Glaringly missing is goat cheese, but the truth is I never got round to it.

The one that was the most effort was not the cream cheese, those 3 days are spent draining and letting the buttermilk started cultures do their magic. The most effort was the queso fresco.

Lopsided queso fresco

Lopsided queso fresco

Queso fresco is a somewhat-hard-but-not-really cows’ milk cheese that needs about 6 hours of pressing and draining. Did I mention that I don’t have a cheese press? Gallon sized milk bottles filled with water were my weights, and a couple of cutting boards strategically placed in an ideally shaped sink did the trick. A little lopsided, but who cares!

It’s a somewhat tart, mild tasting cheese that crumbles when you bite into it. After a few days, the taste becomes yogurty. Nice and fresh, goes with everything. The only downside is that it has to be eaten pretty quickly. Downside for me, that is: my friends were perfectly happy to receive pieces of it.

Queso fresco

Queso fresco

And now … I’m not eating cheese. So I am not making it either. I blame the d- word, that’s keeping me apart from my first love and not doing much for me otherwise. But I will be back – once you’ve been bitten by the cheesemaking bug there’s no help! Just wait till the next time I want mozzarella, orĀ  some cream cheese.

I will be back! BWAHAHAHA!!!!!

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