I'm getting kind of worried that I am starting threads where people are going to think I am some kind of expert. I am not. Mind you, I am not a complete dill - I do know some things about, well, some things! While I am sharing my alcohol recipes (and causing havoc), my greater love is my cheese making. But, I am no expert here folks! I hope this becomes an unfolding thread where people feel free to add their own knowledge. (I hope that for both threads actually.)
Post number 1:
My beginners advice on how best to start: buy a kit. It will get you the basic equipment to start - crazy little measuring spoons, a couple of molds, a few cheese starters etc. What I like about the kits is that you get some instructions that are pretty simple. I started on a Fresh Cheese Kit that cost me around $90. Really simple, and I was producing feta in a day or two. Yes, you can use shop bought whole milk. Most of the equipment can be found in every kitchen, but you still need to start with a kit.
Where can I get a starter kit? Most home brew places have them. Brewers Choice are a certainty but you can get them on line, green living at Underwood do kits and are also on line - a kit is as far away as a google search.
I confess to a degree of impatience. So, I didn't start with really soft cheeses. I went straight to feta. I confess that I am also not a genius. From cheese number one, it worked out fine. Um... it's follow the recipe guys. Best of all, almost no ageing time. You make, you eat. And it is damn fine cheese.
Next post, I'll talk about huge improvements to the base recipe, especially for feta. Umm.. I will if anyone is interested. I don't know this community very well as yet, but I figure if nobody comments, this thread is a loser (that's how most forums work). I'm no expert, and you don't have to be either.
Actually - after a quick re-consider, the next post will be an explanation of the basic process to make something like feta. It's a good mid-ground complexity that will help you decide if you want to bother.
Last night's crazy cheese making kept me up to 2 am. Not cool! I'll start before 7 pm from now on.
Anyway, this was inspired by my eating Mersey Valley's Ploughman's cheese. It's an onionie little beast that I really like. I decided to run with a soft cheese texture (feta base). I'll let you know how this pans out because it's a departure from how I normally flavour feta (by marinate). I've already posted the feta recipe.
Firstly, I blended up a red onion with a bit of water (about a table spoon) and added that to the milk at the very start.
Then, I added lipase to the milk mix at 37 degrees to increase the strength of the flavour of the cheese itself.
Seemed to go pretty well and produced a really interesting looking cheese (with purple lumps). I'm salting it tonight in brine. I'm thinking I might wax it so that I can let it mature a bit (I think lipase likes a bit of time).
If it works, I'll be a genius. If it doesn't, not to worry - it was a fun idea and cost me less than $10 for the try. Although, I am also tepted to try this as a hard cheese too.
Wow. Very impressive. I really must get into cheese making down the track - you make it sound quite easy :)
The hardest part is waiting for it to age. You can see where I taste tested this baby!
I would have a real problem with that. I used to be so controlled with food but it's gone out the window now lol.
Same with the liqueur - I find I just want a spoon full to taste test each day. Just to see how the flavour is developing. Won't be anything left at this rate. How long do I leave the liqueur for Andy? It's tasting pretty good already.
I'd leave it for two weeks. Some people will let it go a full 6 months for depth, but I'm too impatient.
This being the first batch I'm pretty curious how it progresses each day. Future lots won't get so much personal attention :)
I will have to look into the making of spirits as buying the vodka is way too expensive.
And making them is a lot of fun as well - and pretty damn easy.
Here is a shot of the Swiss Farmhouse Cheddar so you can see a hard cheese waxed up.
I do the Jarlsberg with Thermophyllic (high heat) culture and a thing called proniomic shermanii (makes the holes and gives the nutty taste) using a swiss style recipe (quite hot cooking temp). To make this variant, I used mesophyllic culture (low heat) and a cheddar recipe (low temp recipe). I also added the pronomic shermanii. I'll be interested in how it tastes (this one also takes more time to mature because of the cheddar recipe).
The white mark on the font is a label to tell me when I waxed it and what it is. As usual, do not attempt to eat my hand - it is only there for scale.
Sooo impressive and inspiring. I want!
The temp arrangement is going to be my main hurdle with these more advanced cheeses but that's down the track.
Keen to try making some basic cheese now (probably Feta as it's so nice in summer salads) with my basic Mad Millie kit. Thank you for the advice Andy :) Just got to buy some milk.
You'll find that you learn pretty quickly Lissa. The feta is a great starting place. Don't get me wrong, it's not easy. It will challenge you, but you'll overcome it within the first one or two attempts. I probably did 5 or 6 fetas before I felt comfortable enough to move on. Mind you, I still make lots of feta because it is just such a wonderful base to do flavoured cheeses from. You've heard about the garlic marrinate, the purple onion, shallot, shallot and bell chilli, today's shittake mushroom. I'm going to try a direct milk attempt at garlic as well. Oh, and I am ageing it now to see how that effects the flavour. Damn, I can see why there are Feta specialists.
I decided to work with bases - my base soft is the feta. My base hard might be Jarlsberg but might also be a cheddar with a Jarlsberg overtone (I waiting for a few test batches to age). I think my Mouldy will be some kind of a blue, but I'm not sure. It might end up a Brie variant. Damn, I shoulda started this at age 20 to give myself time to play around with them all. So many cheeses, so little time.
On another note, I am getting your messages, but just can't reply. I think the user database is starting to corrupt. Don't panic, the forums will be fine. If worst comes to worst, people will have to make friends again. There's plenty of life in it yet.
Do you think a message to Scarlett about the possibility of the "user database corrupting" might be a good idea? I'm not cluey with these things and she might appreciate your thoughts.
I actually have a fairly full work week this week - pity I didn't have the kit last week when I ended up sitting around twiddling my thumbs all week. Have to be at the first workplace at 6.30 this morning but should be finished by late morning so I can buy some milk.