Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Curd: Making The Cheese Press

Our first foray into making cheese was a clumsy affair. We used a recipe from mine and Dave's grandmothers copy of the Joy of Cooking, one of our go to books. Our cheese press was comprised of a coffee can, a circle of wood, and several bricks gathered from the backyard. The process went well and seems to have produced something resembling cheese, its still aging and we should be able to taste it in another week or so. We attempted to dye the wax on this cheese with red food colouring which obviously didn't provide an even coat. We also had difficulties with the bricks used to press the cheese when they toppled over in the middle of the night.

We decided our next attempt at cheese making will need a proper cheese press. Dave came up with some plans and we have started putting it together in our dads wood shop. The materials used for the press will be entirely plywood scraps gathered from old projects. So far we have glued together the base of the press and the arms but will have to connect it all together. We are still undecided on what to use for weights at the end of the lever.

I can see a lot of benefits from producing our own cheese. One obvious benefit is the enjoyment of the cheese making process. Another benefit is not having to spend the fortune it costs for the hard cheeses I use in every day cooking like parmigiano reggiano, piave or toscano. To do these more complicated cheeses we are going to need bacterial cultures that we are still in the process of acquiring. I've been talking to the artisan cheese makers at the Wychwood Barns Farmers Market to see where they get their cultures or if I can get some from them. Ruth Klahsen from Monteforte Dairy has been particularly helpful. I am also trying to find some raw milk sources, hopefully my buddy Leland who is expecting to get some goats on his farm near Cambelford this summer will have excess milk.

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