Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cheese Making Workshop, Part One

A little over a week ago I attended a cheese making workshop put on by Angelic Organics Learning Center in Caledonia, IL. I've been to a class there once before and actually have another class scheduled next weekend. This was a very basic class covering cheese making. The milk used was raw goat milk from the small herd of goats they maintain. All recipes were also provided by them.

The class divided into groups of one or two based on what kind of cheese you wanted to make: chevre, fromagina, ricotta, mozzarella, feta, and queso blanco. Most groups had two people. Actually, thinking about it now, I was the only one working alone since I chose feta. The rest split across the other types of cheeses save queso blanco, which nobody wanted to make. I chose feta because I didn't want to do a cream cheese and I was a little intimidated by the mozzarella recipe.

Feta begins as whole goat milk that gets heated to 86 °F. At this point you add 2 ounces of mesophilic goat cheese starter culture, mix, and allow to ripen for one hour. This is my milk ripening:

After ripening, 1/4 rennet table is dissolved into 1/4 cup cool water and then added to the milk. Again, cover and let sit for another hour. This is when the curd is formed. With a knife, cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes using a gentle sawing motion. Let the whey get between the cubes and let it sit another 10 minutes. This is my curd post-cutting:

Now the curd gets stirred for twenty minutes. This picture is just as I started stirring:

After stirring, the curd should be broken down. Feta needs to hang and drain so it goes into cheesecloth. Line a colander with the cheesecloth and ladle the curd and whey into it. My curd and whey just before tying it off:

Tie the corners together and hang the cheese for four hours.

After hanging cut the curd into 1 inch cubes and sprinkle with 1 tsp of coarse salt. Age the cheese for four to five days in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.

My feta tasted OK. The times in class were abbreviated so it only aged for ten minutes before people tried it. I do think it was one of the better cheeses made that day. The cream cheeses didn't seem to turn out great.


DougT said...

Are you familiar with New England Cheesemaking Supply? They are a great resource for both materials and information. SOme of their books are indispensable.

Mimi said...

I've always thought this might be fun! Thanks for the posts!

Paul said...

Mimi, this was a blast. The teacher told us how there was a gourmet group in the previous class trying to out-do each other and I thought that was a pretty cool thing for a culinary group to do.