March 6, 2011

Cheese-making : The fulfillment of a dream

I have always wanted to make cheese, spin yarn and live in a close-knit community of artisans. I was born just a little too late to hit the last big opportunity for that here in the United States. But with  the trend to "buy, eat, grow and make local and sustainable produce/products" making a big move, my chance may come again.

I won't uproot my life to move to a kibbutz, but there is a growing sense of community, both locally and on the world-wide web that is refreshing. I love the interaction with like-minded individuals, sharing ideas and experiences that enrich our lives, trying to hold on to, bring back, and create new cherished traditions that are healthier and more sustainable than current practices.

The other day a friend who'd (mis)read my Etsy profile said she didn't know that I made cheese and that she would love to learn how. I let her know that I actually haven't made cheese, just always wanted to. That made me ask myself "Why?". Why haven't I made cheese when it's something I've always wanted to try?

So I turned to the "virtual community" and found a video and recipe that showed how to make an easy, soft cheese.

After watching the video, reading the ingredients and the comments from previous experimenters, I decided to tackle it.

Lemon juice and buttermilk ready to go when the milk is heated to 165 degrees

Cheese draining

I added some of my homemade pesto from the freezer to make a more savory cheese.

Cheese covered and ready to refrigerate

While my cheese turned out nicely, there were a few issues and a couple of things I will change the next time. Like a lot of the others posting comments, my whey was left a bit cloudy. I think that I may have needed just a little more lemon juice to gather the last of the milk proteins into the curds. It may also have been the pasteurized milk I used. Next challenge is to find some unpasteurized milk to try. Maybe at the co-op? I will also use less salt the next time. The cheese was too salty after adding the amount called for in the recipe - another reason why I decided to add some other flavor to the cheese. I am hoping the salt may meld better with the cheese after setting for a while in the fridge.

Next up for me: trying a goat cheese using this method. The only goat milk I could find at the store was ultra-pasteurized, so the hunt is on for that as well.

Right now I have bread rising downstairs that I made using the liquid whey from my cheese. Look for a future post on my Italian bread recipe and how it turned out using the whey.


  1. It is! My bread is just about ready to go in the oven, and when it's done....Yummm.
    I will definitely use less salt next time though.