Making cheese at home is completely addictive and great fun with a few friends. Not only do you get the satisfaction of making your own cheese (and knowing where all the ingredients have come from) it also works out a lot cheaper than buying your cheese at the supermarket – it's between $2.50-$4.00 for each kilogram of cheese.
Making soft cheese is a good place to start if you want to experiment – it’s less complicated and requires less equipment than making hard cheeses like cheddar. Also soft cheeses can be eaten almost right away. You should have all you need to make a basic soft cheese already in your kitchen (a saucepan and colander) except for cheesecloth which you can buy online here.
The process of making a basic soft cheese is pretty simple you just need to heat a few litres of milk (cow’s milk from the supermarket works fine) and add some vinegar or lemon juice. Separating the curds and whey can get a bit frantic once you get going - there’s lots of boiling milk and you need to move quickly so it’s probably not the sort of activity you want to do with younger children around. Check out Foodwishes for a video on soft cheese-making. A good tip is to hang your cheesecloth bag from the kitchen sink tap with a piece of string – that way clean-up is a breeze.
Making hard cheese is a bit more involved, you need more tools and depending on the cheese you want to make, the process can sometimes take more than a day. Also hard cheeses need to be aged so that the flavours develop. Depending on what type of cheese you make it can take a couple of weeks for the aging process.
To get started you can buy cheese-making kits including all the ingredients from Cheeselinks or Green Living Australia. The kits cost anywhere between $37 for a fetta making kit to $385 for a delux kit with everything you need to make a variety of soft and hard cheeses.
Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll is a really great book if you want to learn a little bit more about cheese-making it has a great selection of recipes and instructions. You can pick it up online from Booktopia for $32.90 (inc postage).
Invite your friends over for a cheese-making party. You could start with making up a batch of soft cheese and get everyone to have a go at adding different flavours to the soft cheese base. Try adding lemon and basil or almonds and finely chopped dried apricots.
Once you have made up some soft cheese you can sit down and take a break, eat your cheese and check out the bulk wine auctions on Gray's Online – where everyone can pick something to go with the all the cheese you are making. Remember if you are making hard cheese you'll need a few hours – depending on your skill level and how much wine you’ve already had to drink.
By the time you wine arrives you will probably have some nicely aged cheddar to go with it.
I costed this recently when I was tempted by a $50 make-you-own-cheese kit at a market
I worked out a hard cheese would cost me about the same as what I could buy it for in the supermarket - but I'd have to molly-coddle it for months to get a comparable result - and blue-vein - wipe down every day ? no thanks.
I gave up there.
By ultim - reader Sunday, 22nd of September @ 06:42 am
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By Gus - reader Monday, 11th of January @ 04:00 am