As featured in the Winter issue of Country Child, Jo Leigh turns her hand to making cheese in her own home, courtesy of Fine Country Fare foods in Downton, Salisbury.
When I found out that you could make your own cheese at home, I was extremely keen to give it a go as I am a huge cheese fan. Cheese with fruit, cheese with wine, cheese on top of almost everything and the thought of being able to make my own was very tempting.
Admittedly you can make only certain types of cheese from your own home, such as Ricotta, Mozzarella and Goats cheese. Anything harder needs a much more sophisticated set up, I was thrilled at the prospect of these cheeses being available to me at any time though.
In Downton, Salisbury, Fine Country Fare, Cheese making kits are easily accessible online and for only £19.99 for a kit that you can re-use several times, I believe is great value for money.
The kit contains: Temperature gauge, rennet tablet, citric acid, seasalt, recipe book and a helpful information/tips book. It is hugely beneficial to read the tips handbook as this will set you up for the best results. In my eagerness I dived straight in with an iron pot (my largest I have) to put EIGHT pints of milk into. Ideally you should use a ceramic or steel pot as these won’t react with the milk. We pressed forward with the technique of heating the milk with the mix of rennet and citric that allows the milk to separate into curds and whey.
Once the separation has occurred, you can literally cut the curds into pieces and then remove the whey that sits on the top. Reheat mix again, stirring as you go and then ladle the curds into a microwavable bowl to heat again in the microwave to the optimum temperature of 135f. At this optimum temperature you can stretch and fold the cheese, similar to kneading bread. This gives the Mozzarella the stringy and rubbery texture we all know and love! We did not have the right glove unfortunately to take the heat so were unable to give it a great amount of kneading. The more you can knead the better results.
We gave our product as much as movement as we could which created a dough type cheese that we set into a bowl which ended up being a cheese that tasted like Mozzarella but did not quite have the right texture and consistency. It still tasted good with tomatoes and some balsamic vinegar/glaze.
We thoroughly enjoyed making cheese and it would be a great activity to interest and engage older children too. Usual safety warnings apply as you are dealing with hot milk on a hot stove so supervision and common sense must prevail!
We will be trying Ricotta next and I’ve already bought several as gifts for Christmas!
If you want to have a go at making cheese then buy the kits here: www.finecountryfare.com