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Last Thursday I gave a demonstration to the North London Women’s Institute on how to make cheese at home.  It was arranged by Charlotte Heavisides, who I originally met a couple of years ago at MsMarmiteLover’s first Underground Food & Craft Market.

Making cheese at home with the WI

Making cheese at home with the WI

I thought it might be interesting to see whether it was possible to make cheese in 20 minutes, using equipment found in a regular kitchen, and milk from the supermarket.  This flies in the face of all the experiments I’ve performed, which indicate that time and care is required to make good cheese.  In this case though, as long as the end result is edible, and not too disgusting, I’d class it as a success.

Ready to demonstrate cheese making

Ready to demonstrate cheese making

Using a standard saucepan, I heated 2.25 litres of Taste the Difference Jersey milk to 30C, which I’d found to be the best supermarket milk to make cheese with during my Milk Type Experiments.

I then coagulated it using 0.40% vegetarian rennet, diluted in double the volume water to give a set in around nine minutes.  The volume of rennet to use was a tough to decide on, since I’ve found in the past that doubling volumes doesn’t halve coagulation time.  I was also concerned that using too much rennet would impair the flavour so much it would be inedible.  In the end I decided that overusing rennet would be preferable, since I only had a limited amount of time available.  Since previous experiments have shown 0.04% rennet gives a coagulation time of 90 minutes, I thought 0.4% would hopefully coagulate in around 9 minutes.

Mid cheese-making

Mid cheese-making

After coagulation, I cut the curd, ladelled it into cheese-cloth, and after a bit of squeezing, flavoured it heavily with sea salt, pepper, oregano and garlic.  The raw cheese tasted quite a lot like rennet, so a fair amount of flavouring was needed to mask it.

Overall the final cheese went down surprisingly well – some people actually had seconds!  I also brought along some of my washed rind cheeses, and the results of the Rennet Type Experiments to show people the difference a small ingredient makes when making cheese.  There were some very interesting questions about the historical aspects of cheese making, as well as some specifics about allergies to cheese, and how best to keep cheese in the fridge.

@heatherrhian also very kindly created a little fact sheet on how to make cheese at home, and where to get the required equipment which you can take a look at here: Cheesemaking for WI.

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