I live for cheese. I will never give it up. Even if I become lactose intolerant (which I highly doubt I ever will given my Scandinavian ancestry) I will still eat it in excessive amounts, if possible. So, given my culinary tendencies in the kitchen I jumped at the chance to learn how to make my own cheese when I saw an advertisement for a cheese making class in Waimea. The registration fee was a bit steep ($130 I believe) but I figure this opportunity does not present itself too often here in our state. Apparently cheese making is all the rage on the continent but here there are a few goat dairies and chevre producers and that's about it.
Here is our instructor, Vicki. She hails from Virginia where she was an active cheese maker and writer of all things cheese. She jumped at the chance to intern for a bit at a goat dairy in Ahualoa a few years ago and decided to stay. She is VERY knowledgeable in all things cheesy and dairy related.
Two of the attendees raise their own goats and sheep for milk (and food, too, I'm sure). And they were nice enough to bring some sheep and goat milk for our cheese production. You can't see it here but the cream content in this sheep milk was very very high. And very white!
Different cheese containers.
You cannot purchase raw milk of any sort in the state of Hawai'i. Milk HAS to be pasteurized. And probably homogenized. We had raw milk and so we made sure the pasteurize it by bringing it up to a temperature of 145 degrees and keeping it there for 30 minutes. I feel so "in the know" about that now.
This is my mom. Also a lover of all cheeses. Except for goat or sheep cheese. HAHA! Okay. Here is what I know and retained about cheese making. It's hard. It's complicated. You need meticulous notes and cultures that keep in the freezer. My mom is literally CUTTING THE CHEESE. Yup. Mom's cutting the cheese. Don't ask me why it has to be done. Vicki kind of lost me when she started busting out her different packaged cultures from the freezer. I'm just going to buy the book and start with something REALLY easy that doesn't need brining or sitting. She said something about the beauty of cheese mites and I shut down. I'll just watch and appreciate the hard work and know how of cheese makers. Seriously. But don't be surprised if I start posting some cheese making posts in the distant future. You never know. I ordered the cheese making book on Amazon today.
Beautiful feta made out of sheeps milk
Mom transferring the curds to the mold
Pouring out the whey and cheese curds into a colander
This container was filled to overflowing and then pressed down. It was left to drain, turned over to drain more and so on and so on until it was ready for us to cut and take home.
Here's my feta, crumbled over our tomatoes. You know this is a hit in my house. I mean, what can be better than tomatoes and cheese? Two of my favorites!
Okay, I did make my own cheese already :-)
I took home three pints of whey (the liquid byproduct of cheese making). Put it into a pot and brought it up to 200 degrees. Then I added about a tsp of salt and a tsp of white vinegar and turned the heat off. Voila - RICOTTA!
I think I could make a habit of this cheese making stuff.