On first cheeses

Well, my first cheesemaking experiment with home-grown milk was successful.

I started simple.  At my first tasting of it (a chevre, which is a fresh “farmhouse” style cheese) I was so very surprised how normal it tasted.  Hey, this tastes like goat cheese!  I guess I can say I was surprised at my reaction, as, well, it was a goat I got the milk from and everything.  But home gardeners know well this shift in expectation that I was anticipating:  the homegrown is so much different than the stuff you buy at the store, shipped from who knows where.  Vive la difference! I anticipated this cheese to taste wildly different, too.

Granted, my benchmark wasn’t the carageenan-thickened grocery store gunk but a local cheese purveyor’s chevre:  her stuff is awesome.  When the timing is right, she tops her cheese with fennel pollen and some lavender buds, ya-yum.

chevre with finely minced chives, marjoram, parsley and thyme; I also made straight ricotta from the whey and my cider vinegar

But of course the engineer in me wants to fiddle with the process.  Okay, cheesemakers out there:  let’s come up with edible cheesecloth.  My goodness how much of that good cheese gets stuck to the cloth!  I used butter muslin and then a synthetic muslin on the ricotta, both stuck after dripping dry for nearly 24 hours.  Sigh.  Any takers?

12 responses to “On first cheeses

  1. Yum! I love goat cheese. I cannot wait to learn to make my own.

  2. I gave up on cheesecloth after the first try. Now I use a large cotton napkin or floursack dishtowel. It drains more slowly, but the cheese peels right off when you are finished.

  3. Terrific! Lucky lucky you.

  4. Actually, considering that they’re making dinner service and ‘plastic’ bags out of corn or potatoes, there’s no reason why someone couldn’t come up with edible cheesecloth, although I think I’d take a hint from the Japanese and use a rice-based product.

  5. I used to use a cotton voile…it was open enough to drain reasonably well, and I don’t remember the cheese sticking too much. The same piece lasted me through a few years of farmer’s cheese, too.

  6. Wow, that looks awesome, but I bet it tastes even better!

  7. I made mozzerella with my fourth graders on Friday and I used a coffee filter and the cheese just flopped off.
    It looks lovely-congratulations!

  8. been thinking about cheese making, but haven’t really got the room at the moment.

    here’s a post on the UK site OCUK, which details making chedder, gonna give it a try myself one day

    : )


  9. Hi El,

    Wow, that looks fabulous.

    I haven’t tried this, but I also heard that floursack dishtowels work well. They are a little more durable too (for washing, sterilizing, etc).

  10. Until you find something suitable, you could wait until there are no witnesses (to avoid sharing) and lick the cheesecloth clean like mixing beaters.

  11. Mme Slif, well, some of them aren’t at all hard to make!

    Aastricker, thanks. We have plenty of floursack towels and if I put my husband on it he’d be trolling the thrift stores for cheap pillowcases. A lot of this is trial and error, certainly.

    Stefaneener, yeah, and tasty…I was hesitant to share!

    Paula, point taken! Interesting idea. Hmm. I wonder if phyllo will work? 😉

    Thanks, Lyssa. It’s so precious I am loath to waste any of it.

    Cheryl, good and gone! It was a fun Round 1!

    Kimberly, thanks for the suggestion. That sounds like a definite possibility, especially considering how many coffee filters we have around here.

    Oh my gosh Steve that ladder is just a scream. I am building something similar to the first press (the horizontal bar one) and it folds neatly to the wall…doesn’t take up much room at all, which is crucial considering how small my kitchen actually is. I’ll post some photos of it when it gets up and going. How exciting, though, cheddar! mmm

    Thanks, Angie. Yeah what I like about lots of these suggestions of course is that I already have the tools, don’t necessarily need to run out and buy specific things! bonus!

    Oh Pamela there’s no shame in licking cheesecloth…or at least not in my house. But yes! Beater-licking is a time-honored ritual around here.

  12. Carol O'Donovan

    How about edible rice paper!

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