Monday, March 11, 2013

Cheese Making 101

English: Goat's milk cheese
English: Goat's milk cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cheese is a nice subject to begin the week with. I cannot imagine a world without cheese. There are so many types and flavors that you can find a taste to suit almost any one.

Cheese was really developed as a way to store excess milk and make it where people who are lactose intolerant can digest and benefit from the nutrition available in milk.

Milk (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
Lactose Intolerants is actually more common than most people realize and depends mostly on our heritage. In the majority of mammals the body naturally stops producing the enzymes necessary to break down the Lactose (sugars) in milk when it is time to stop nursing.  People are mammals by the way. As people progressed from the hunter gatherer stage into more advanced types of society we began to heard animals and plant crops. This lead to many changes in our diet and we developed the ability to keep nursing (drinking milk) beyond the time we would have normally stopped.

If your ancestors came from one of these herding cultures you have a good chance of being lactose tolerant, if they didn’t, well you’re out of luck. Lactose intolerance can range from sever stomach upset to mild flagellants (gas) depending on the extent of your intolerants. Many people are lactose intolerant and never even relies it the symptoms are so mild.

If you are one of the unlucky ones among us and your body will not tolerate lactose, have no fear cheese is the answer. I was explaining this to friend and he tried to call me on it. He said I have tried cheeses and all I got was a stomach ache. I asked him what kind of cheeses he tried and of course his answer was whatever my wife bought at ______. I asked was it wrapped in plastic or foil and he answered of course. I knew the answers to my questions before I asked them. I have had these conversations before. He was shocked and most people are shocked when I tell them “you still haven’t tried cheese then.
Honey ice cream
The making of cheese is much simpler than most people realize. The basics are you introduce enzymes into milk; they break down the lactose and leave you with an easily digestible product that is both delicious and nutritious.  I will walk you through the process here for making a simple cream cheese. I use this recipe and then add seasonings to the finished product just to create different taste. If you don’t like spicy foods, don’t worry, just spread this simple cheese on toast and enjoy.

For this project you’re going to need:

1 gallon of  whole milk

 (Not the super pasteurized but any other will do)

A colander

A large cloth

(Cheese cloth is best but any cotton will do, I use pillow cases)

A thermometer

A large stainless steel pot

Enzyme culture

(Available on line or at many gourmet shops, different cultures make different cheeses)

Pinch of salt

Pour your milk into your stainless steel pan and place over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Don’t heat too quickly or you will scald the milk. Using your thermometer bring the milk to 85 deg. Fahrenheit (29 deg. Celsius); stir in your enzymes; remove from heat and cover. Walk away and leave sitting on your counter.
Pectic Enzyme
Pectic Enzyme (Photo credit: John Holzer)

I recommend doing this in the late afternoon. Eat supper, read, watch television and have a good night’s sleep, the enzymes are doing the work not you.

Arise about 15 minutes early in the morning; go to the kitchen and remove the lid from your pot. What you are going to find is a thick skim on top, this is your curd. Line your colander with your cloth and spoon this curd into it. Let the curd drain for a few minutes; remove it to bowl and mix in a little salt. You have fresh Cream Cheese for your morning toast. Enjoy

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