New England Cheesemaking Supply [moved from Boston board]
has anyone out there tried any of these home cheesemaking kits? i'm reviewing them, and i want to talk to some others who have dug down and found the courage to make cheese at home. i've tried mozzarella and i've had one success and two massive failures. thanks!
I was a cheesemaker for many years until wrangling my big goats and huge tubs of milk became too hard on my ancient bones. A kit is all fine and good and probably quite entertaining, but there are a number of cheeses that you can make without any more than
your clean fingers
a heavy-bottomed SS pot.
a bottle of rennet,
some Lucern buttermilk,
a non-reactive strainer,
an Insta-read thermometer,
and some well-washed and rinsed thin muslin.
Feta is one of these, and making it is nearly fail-proof. Another very easy cheese is the "boiled milk" cheese called panir. Soft Farmer's cheese requires very little technology also. There are a number of cheesemaking books out there and my main advice is to not take them too seriously. Remember, humans have been making cheeses for way over 10,000 years and there are as many ways to preserve milk through culturing and curding as there are people who want to do it.
Yes.. my first cheese was panir that I made by adding lemon juice to milk that was just at that heave before a boil. My mistake was to use Meyer lemon juice, though.. not nearly acid enough! After a frantic call to my "teacher" I poured in a dollop of vinegar.. and my cheesemaking career was launched. Now and then, since I no longer have my dairy animals, I'll buy a few gallons of fresh organic whole milk and make some Farmer's Cheese for a cheesecake.. or maybe some feta.. or some of my favorite olive and pepper-laced panir.
I received a kit for xmas and have had a number of successes. It's a great way to find out if making cheese is something you would like to explore further.
NECS also offers almost any equipment and particularly, any cultures/molds etc, needed to expand beyond the basics. Also, R Carroll's book, Home Cheese Making, is a fantastic, simple-to-understand resource.
I have had no problems sourcing pasteurized (as opposed to ultra-pasteurized) milk in numerous north shore grocery chains and am dying to try Shaw Farm milk for cheese! I have also been locating sources for raw milk - through a link I believe I found posted on this board last month.
For the recent easter holiday, I found pasteurized goat's milk at Whole Foods and made 2 styles of goat cheese for a salad. They were both very good ...maybe a little bland ...but cheese making, like anything else is a matter of tinkering with your recipe and procedure until it's where you want it.
here's raw milk link: http://www.realmilk.com/where2.html
I took Ricki's class in October and I've been making cheese ever since. I mostly make the mozzarella, cheddar, and ricotta. I haven't had an all out disaster yet (knock on wood!) but I can definitely tell that the quality is getting better in recent batches compared to my early attempts. I really love everything about the process.
Yeah, I've gotten her basic kit that has enough to make mozzarella and some other soft and hard cheeses (if you are more ambitious and invest in a little bit more equipment). I even took one of her cheese making classes. If you have a chance to take her (Ricki Carroll) class in Western MA I highly recommend it. She's a great teacher and there's nothing like actually seeing some of the steps (like what a clean break looks like) to help you make a successful cheese. Her book is very good too. Ricki has a ton of cheese making knowledge. I've only made mozzarella at home from her kits but in the class we made 6-7 different kinds. I too have had some massive failures with the mozzarella and some big success. I've found there are many ways the process can go awry - type of milk, temperature, amount of rennet, timing, etc. I think practice makes it easier and one less prone to mistakes.