Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Eating My Curds and Whey

At the risk of increasing the number of my friends who think I am nuts, I wanted to share word of my latest endeavor: cheesemaking. It isn't hard to do at home -- and no, you don't need to live on a farm and have a cow; I live in an apartment in the city. It is cheaper than store bought, and it is often better tasting than store bought. So why not try it, I ask?

Because we live in a country where you are supposed to buy everything at the store, it doesn't occur to folks that most things existed first as something you make that then became mass produced. But via the power of the internet and other such stealthy devices I have discovered that some things are wonderful made at home, in fact, much better than their counterparts. Pita bread is probably the best example of something ridiculously easy to make at home and much better than the cardboard stuff. I have also tried making tortillas (another good one although will never match the Mexican fresh kind), graham crackers (hard to replicate Honeymaid but an interesting experiment nonetheless), gingerale (not bad), truffles (wonderful, easy and cheap), mayonnaise (amazing), and roasting coffee (odd, quirky and tricky but fun). Oh and I found a yogurt maker at the Goodwill, so I've been making that at home for a while now -- easy and yummy and much milder than the sour store bought kind.

So, I mail ordered some cheese making supplies and last Friday I tried them out. I need to take some photos next time which I will add to this post. It's all very interesting to play with the amount of fat in the cheese, and I'd bet if you used very fresh milk or even unpasteurized milk you would also have something with which to compare results. One of the most interesting factors is the huge amount of whey you have left over. After making a pound of mozarella, I still had almost the entire plastic milk jug filled with whey. I just learned that boiling this whey is where you get ricotta cheese, so that is the next step. Also, whey is supposed to be a great addition to recipes like pancakes and muffins, and even a nice boost to your houseplants. Who knew?

My grandmother grew up on a dairy farm in Eastern PA so maybe milk is um, in my blood (ew). If I only had a cow or access to fresh milk ... I guess that could be the offshoot of this little project. And then, dreams of owning a goat.

So if you stop by, I may let you try some. And even better, barter with you if you happen to have any crafts to share. PS I'm a sucker for homemade pasta.

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