A Word of Support for the Amateur Cheesemaker!
As the movement toward artisan, traditionally-made, locally-produced foods continues to pick up momentum, more and more cheese-lovers have decided to try their own hand at the ancient trick of separating curds from whey. If you’ve been thinking about joining their joyous, dairy-drenched ranks but aren’t sure where to start, we’re here to help!
There is collectively quite a bit of cheese know-how in the heads of the cheesemakers and mongers here at the Creamery, always on hand to answer your questions and offer advice. And we love hearing about your own cheese triumphs and experiments (we recently had great fun helping one dedicated home-cheese-maker split open his first year-old, clothbound cheddar). But if you’re looking for a more formal, hands-on way to learn some cheese-making basics, I’d recommend our highly popular, highly delicious mozzarella classes. During a two-hour Saturday afternoon class, you get to make your own mozzarella from milk and from a premade, high-quality curd, then move on to making a baked mozzarella braid wrapped in myrtle (my very favorite), and the holy grail of mozz decadence: the burrata, a pouch of fresh mozzarella filled with shredded mozzarella and heavy cream. Ah, sweet cheese of indulgence! And in the moments between setting the milk and practicing your cheese-stretching technique, you’ll get a healthy dose of dairy science, too. We’ll send you home with recipes, a coupon for the curd we use at the Creamery to make our mozzarella, and all of the cheese you’ve made in the class (it’s a bunch).
We also have great mozzarella- and ricotta-making kits from the New England Cheese Company for sale in the shop, as well as goat-cheese and hard-cheese kits, complete with starter cultures and rennet. We’ve got the classic cheese-making books, detailing the history of cheese and including many recipes, for your cookbook shelf. And most important, we’ve got good milk. The old adage goes, You can make bad cheese with good milk, but you can’t make good cheese with bad milk. Keep this advice close to your cheese-loving heart! At the Creamery we sell the same Calder Dairy milk we use make our own cheeses. It is non-ultrapasturized (which means it’s been treated very gently to reduce the loss of flavor), and – not so easy to find these days – it’s unhomogenized. In the process of homogenization, milk is run through a series of screens to break up the fat molecules and allow them to mix evenly with the rest of the liquids and solids in the milk. This is just fine for drinking, but the whole idea of cheesemaking revolves around the fats and proteins coming together, not being broken apart. So by using Calder Natural Milk instead of the kinds most commonly found in grocery stores, you increase your chances of ending up with a successful cheese. (Or, just take home a half-gallon of this tasty, local milk for your cereal or your glass! Shake it up to manually homogenize, or leave it unhomogenized and skim a bit of the separated cream off the top for your morning coffee.)
The best advice I can think of, though, when it comes to cheesemaking, is not to get discouraged. There are a lot of factors that go in to successfully making cheese, including the temperature and atmosphere, the timing and performance of each of the steps in the recipe, and the type of milk and culture used. It sometimes takes beginning cheese-makers years to get their recipes to where they want them, and even master cheese-makers who have been working for decades make bad batches once in a while. It’s a tricky art as much as it is a science, and it takes a lot of patience and a lot of persistence. Don’t fear; come visit us and we’ll help you get started. Your cheese may one day be the envy of all you meet.
Our Mozzarella Classes will be running through April, held every Saturday from 12-2pm. Give us a call if you’d like to get signed up!
All the best,