Hobby

Announcing Cheese Enthusiast

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There's a new cheese publication in town, and it's definitely worth checking out. Cheese Enthusiast is a reincarnation of the old newsletter "Home Dairy News," and as such its focus is on hobbyist cheesemaking at home. Nevertheless the paper takes a very in-depth approach to the topics it explores, so even if you don't make cheese at home the articles are very informative. And, hey, guess what--the inaugural edition features an interview with yours truly!

Annual subscriptions are a bit steep at $30/year, but so far the product is promising. I would love to see some full color photography to go along with the well-written articles, and hopefully they will head in that direction in the future.

From the Forum: Ricotta Advice Needed

This question came in recently via the Forum:

I do have a question as well. Trying to make ricotta today, I used 2% instead of whole milk. Added some citric acid and salt, heated to 195, and couldn't get the curds to separate, save a few lonely stark white ones floating on the top. After a while (since I assumed all was lost, although I wasn't sure why) I added some rennet to experiment. It separated, those curds sinking to the bottom, wispy off-white. I let them sit and then drained into butter muslin, which is now hanging to drain. Not sure what the finished product will be, or where I went wrong. Should I just not have used 2%?

Thanks,
Heather

I don't think a low-fat milk would entirely prevent the proteins from coagulating, it would just likely lead to a drier, less creamy texture. Perhaps the milk was ultra-pasteurized? If you have any further advice for Heather, leave a comment!

Question About Making Parmesan

Calling all cheesemaking experts: the following message was recently posted to the forums. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions!

Ricotta Salata


It's been an ugly week people. Mass murder at home and abroad. Racism. Swarms of bad ideas and without Kurt Vonnegut to make it seem funny somehow.

It's made me get real philosophical about the world and forced me to attempt to come to a separate peace with all of the stupid cruelty that it encompasses.

Crème Fraîche: Heavy Cream Redux


Recycling.

This is something that we, as people trapped in a culture that is treading water creatively speaking, are all too familiar with.

The coolest cars on the road look like heavily Photoshopped versions of cars from decades ago when people had style. The best movie I saw this year was a dark re-tread of a cheesy cop-drama I loved as a pre-pubescent kid. My current favorite bands all sound like the distilled essence of bands from the last 30 I already loved. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the End of the American Century.

As depressing as recycling can be when used as a metaphor for the death of western civilization as a viable narrative it can be really fucking useful around the house when you need to do something with left over supplies from a truly Roman-vomitorium-style feed.

Making Syrian Cheese

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The time commitment demanded by a 2-month old baby drives the hobbyist cheese maker to cut some serious corners. Gone (for now) are the 8 hour days molding and flipping Camembert rounds. As are the 24-hour pressing times required of the Swiss-style alpine cheeses. My cheese making appetite would need to be satiated in other ways...

Enter Syrian cheese, also known as Jiben, a fresh, friable cheese--one of the easiest cheeses to make. Syrian cheese actually comes in many different varieties, one of which is sort of like a braided mozzarella, but the one I made is more like a salty Paneer, or Queso Fresco. It's got a very fresh, milky taste, with a firm but elastic texture. It's traditionally used in pilafs and pasta dishes, as well as omelets (edgehs), but it's probably also good with sweet dried fruit like dates, raisins or figs.

It couldn't be easier to make*. Bring 1 gallon of good-quality milk to 88° F. Gently stir in 1 tsp. of double strength liquid rennet, and let sit for

Cheese of the Week - Gruyano?

Gruyano

A few entries ago, I described the three Gruyère-style homemade cheeses that have been aging in my "cheese cave." The oldest one had been aging for 5 months, the amount of time that Margaret Morris recommends in her book, and after trying a sample using this cheese trier, I determined that the cheese was

Cheesemaking Update

Gruyères-1/29/06
Gruyères at 5 months, 2 weeks and 1 week of age

What you see here is a picture of three homemade cheeses at various stages of aging. They were all made according to Margaret Morris' "Gruyère-style" recipe on p.188 of her book The Cheesemakers Manual, and each one has a fatal flaw. However, "mistakes are the portals of discovery," according to James Joyce, and I intend to use these flaws to improve future batches. I have yet to taste these cheeses, so I don't know exactly what effects these mistakes will have, but they are

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