I love cheese. I have always loved cheese. As a kid, I loved things that resemble cheese, but no longer consider cheese. I used to eat American cheese slices out of the little plastic wrapped packages as an after school snack. Yes, I am ashamed. In interim years, I have discovered such wondrous creations as French Munster, Italian Tallegio, and Spanish Valdeon. More recently, the delicious local cheeses of Monforte Dairy, and numerous other local and small-scale producers, have made me think that maybe this is something that I could do myself.
I finally decided to make cheese at home after watching the process on the BBC's the Victorian Farm, a great documentary series that recaptures daily activities of our recent ancestors. Seeing the simple, relatively inexact conditions under which the researchers worked, inspired me to try my hand at cheesemaking. My first attempt was a pressed ‘farmhouse’ cheese from Gramma's copy of Joy of Cooking (see Paul’s earlier post). We used buttermilk as a starter, dried rennet tablets, and a very questionable pressing method. The result was not great.
I have since received some help from the fine people at Glenngarry Cheese. They are located in Lancaster Ontario, where I recently visited. I was expecting to purchase some quality bacterial starter, liquid calf's rennet (that’s the good stuff) and a cheese mold. When I arrived, they greeted me with such inspiring enthusiasm, and a whirlwind of information and encouragement. They were thrilled to hear that I had decided to join the ranks of the cheesemaker. We talked for over an hour about the major do’s and don’ts that a first timer should watch out for. They also had all of the key ingredients that I could not find elsewhere. Thank you Glenngarry Cheese.
With the completion of the cheese press, and all the proper ingredients we decided to make one of my favourites, Traditional Cheddar. We won’t know how it tastes for another nine months (it's meant to be aged), but it definitely looks like cheese, and has a an aroma that I can confidently say, smells like cheese. I’ll keep you updated.