How To Make Your Own Cheese:
I found this recipe to make your own cheese in Stefan Gates’ Book Gastronaut. The book is full of fun make-it-yourself recipes and bizarre food trivia. I really enjoyed the book and in my up-coming posts I will be making quite a few of his recipes.
Before you embark on making your own cheese let me first (in a way that I hope does not steer you away from trying it yourself) tell you the honest truth about cheese-making: it brings little material benefit. You can buy better in shops and it is not a great way save money. But as Gates puts it in his book “it’s fascinating and enormously satisfying….[with] an element of childish pride in serving homemade cheese to your friends. You really ought to try it”.
So I did. It was fun. Not sure if I’ll ever make it again, but most glad that I can say I have made cheese. Aside from Gates’ inciting cheese words, I also wanted to try my hand at cheese-making because my Italian great-aunts (according to my mother) used to make cheese all the time. My mother remembers them hanging muslin filled with curds and whey from trees on their farm. I was always fascinated by this story (my mother on the other hand more concerned about the hygiene) that I always wanted to make my own cheese – so Gates’ really sold me on the chapter’s title: HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHEESE.
The cheese is like a ricotta with a little bit of a sourness to it. Out of the cheese I made an antipasti platter, and a pizza. The recipes are to follow.
Makes one small cheese:
any ovenproof glass or ceramic container that will hold 2 litres.
2 clean tea towels or muslin
an ovenproof bowl/dish/jug (container)
For the Cheese:
2 litres full-fat milk
4 tablespoons full-fat yogurt
a sprig of rosemary or thyme
salt and pepper
Sterilize your container and tea towels (or muslin) in a saucepan of boiling water. Pour the milk into your ovenproof container and add the yoghurt. Stir well and put it in a warm airing cupboard. Cover it with one of your damp tea towels and leave it for 2 days. The bacteria in the yoghurt will have grown in the milk, producing acid that starts souring it. Don’t worry – this is a good thing.
Heat your oven to 110 degrees Celsius. Skim the cream off to leave behind the solidifying gloop, and place this gloop in an ovenproof bowl. Warm it in the oven for 30 minutes – this will encourage the solid curds and watery whey to separate.
Lay your tea towel in a large mixing bowl with the corners hanging over the sides. Pour the curds and whey mixture on top, then carefully lift the four corners of the cloth and gently compress and squeeze out the liquid. Tie it up with a string and hang it from something to drip. Traditionally, it was suspended from the legs of an upturned stool, but use whatever you’ve got. It’ll need to drip-dry for 12 hours, so make sure you put it somewhere out of the way.
After 12 hours, place your bundle on a plate. To add some flavour (because it doesn’t taste of much) untie the bundle and place a washed sprig of rosemary or thyme on top of the cheese. Re-tie it and put another plate on top to gently compress it. Leave for another 2 hours or so, then serve it with a pinch of salt , freshly ground pepper and a little pool of olive oil (in the Languedocian style) or in a pool of honey.
packet of Parma ham or Black Forest ham (I used Black Forest ham)
pickled Guindilla peppers