By Kylie Archer
My obsession with making my own cheese, yoghurt and bread is something which separates me from quite a few of my friends. While they are stealing two hours away from their family to have a pedicure, I’m stealing it to make an Edam.
I began being interested in making my own cheese after seeing kits available at my local home brew shop. The very attractive purple kits claimed I’d be able to make my own cheese at home very quickly and easily. Surprisingly, I could. Well, I could make soft cheese quite easily at home, cream cheese, feta, haloumi, and ricotta. What I craved though was a creamy brie….
The main obstacle I found with cheese making in the initial stages was that buying unhomogenised (this means it isn’t made to be the same consistency all the way through- the milk is more like traditional milk where the cream and milk separate) was expensive. So experimenting wasn’t really a possibility due to the risk of spoilage. So I stuck with my four tried and tested cheeses.
Recently I took a two day cheese making course. Run by the Cheesemaking Workshop, it took a lot of the mystery out of home cheese making. Since completing the course, I make yoghurt every Tuesday, try to make a hard cheese at least once a month and I regularly make feta, ricotta and haloumi based on what we need at home.
The workshop simplified things for me even further, with easy to follow steps for cheese making. There’s something very self satisfying about saying “I made it myself” and never is it more self satisfying than when it’s a spectacular looking cheese.
I know, you’re still thinking I’m mad, right? Well let me give you some reasons why you should be making your own cheese and yoghurt.
Why Make Your Own Cheese etc? Why?
- When you making your own yoghurt, you control what goes in it. If you don’t want the kids to have sugary yoghurt, serve it plain or add pureed fruit for sweetness. Or honey, or vanilla, or even cinnamon, or my favourite, a combination of the above.
- Again on yoghurt, you are assured that you are using real live cultures. So often, yoghurts contain only trace amounts of live cultures. In which case they should be labelled as dairy desserts, but they are labelled as yoghurt, meaning we think we are getting the health benefits of yoghurt, but really it’s negligible.
- Do you live somewhere remote? Hate shopping? Have too many kids to fit in the trolley? Yoghurt and ricotta can both be made with long life milk. Meaning you can always have the milk on hand to make yoghurt or ricotta.
- The yield from the milk is quite good. I get about 650g of fetta from 4 litres of unhomogenised milk. The unhomogenised Parmalat milk is also organic. You can’t buy 650grams of organic feta for less than $10 which is the approximate cost of the milk.
- Whey, the byproduct of home cheese production, can be used in bread making, pizza bases and feeding chooks! You can also use it (it’s high in protein) in smoothies if you are so inclined. It makes your bread and pizza bases fluffy and yummier! Also you can freeze the whey for use at a later date.
- Yoghurt takes 5 active minutes from you. I have an electric yoghurt maker. They are available very cheaply from Kmart. To it I add 1/5th of a teaspoon of yoghurt culture (available at brew shops or online), 2 litres of UHT milk and 8 heaped tablespoons of milk powder. If you don’t have a yoghurt maker, you can do it in a thermos or even a container inside and esky. You’ve just got to maintain its temp at approx. 40-45 degrees for 10 hours. I’ve even read about people making yoghurt in their slowcooker. That’s 2 litres of yoghurt for under $3! Yoghurt method coming soon, MamaBakers
Let’s talk ricotta. I mean, really talk ricotta.
Go into your kitchen. Do you have a colander? A big saucepan? A stove? A muslin wrap hanging around somewhere? A slotted spoon? Vinegar? A measuring cup? Ok. You can make ricotta.
Ricotta is traditionally made from the whey of other cheeses, meaning you waste nothing. Except time looking at your cheese and talking to it but I digress. But you don’t have to make another cheese to make ricotta. You can make it NOW. And impress everyone at the next meal with it.
1 litre of ANY animal milk (goat, cow, sheep) and even UHT will do
- Heat milk in the saucepan on the stove. You need to take it to just before the boil. About 92-3 degrees. Turn the stove off, pour in the vinegar. Stir twice and leave it. For 25 minutes.
- With a slotted spoon, remove the curds into a muslin lined colander. Drain it in the colander for 35 minutes. Squeeze out the extra whey gently.
You can eat it now (I prefer to chill it) or refrigerate for about 5 days. If it’s not being eaten immediately, I like to put it in a mold (I’ll tell you more about those things next time!).