Why Make Cheese at Home?
Cheesemaking is a sense of the miraculous when fresh liquid milk is heated. The milk is transformed into a jelly-like substance with zingy fresh acidity. It is then put into containers and on its way to becoming cheese. There are scientific explanations for this process: the cheese starter culture is added to the pasteurised milk, which converts the lactose to lactic acid, then rennet is added to create curds, which are then hooped and matured.
When I was seventeen years old, I knew nothing about cheese cultures or rennet or different styles of cheese, and that is when I made my first cheese at Gatton College as a food technology student. It was Cheddar cheese. But I was shown how to make cheese. It was not cheesemaking love at first sight. It was a slow-building affection for the art of making cheese.
But why start on a journey to make your own cheese? Is it affordability? Is it an interest in making your own foods like Salami, beer, jams etc? Or are you in a lockdown and making cheese seemed like a good thing, do you like delving into the science behind one of our most common foods, food miles and knowing more about the food that you eat? Do you love being in the kitchen and preparing and cooking food, giving away foods that you have made or do you like to eat cheese…Maybe more than one of the above!
Cheesemaking will save you money compared to most supermarket cheese but will save you a lot more than hand-made artisan cheeses. If you can make Salami, beer, jams, etc., cheesemaking is no more complex than that. Cheesemaking has its own set of processes and rules; it is no more difficult to make cheese than these other foods. If you like the science behind these foods, countless books and research articles are written about every aspect of making cheese.
Probably the most complex cheese that anyone can make is that 1st cheese. It is mildly stressful; as you contemplate the hygiene, dosages temperatures, cuts and stirs….Then after you have made a few batches, the penny drops, your intuition kicks in, then add a sense of realisation with a pinch of magic dust, the feeling of realisation sets in, that cheesemaking is really very easy. Then it’s off to the next cheese, looking at each cheese recipe with an optimistic outlook.
If you want to start out on a cheesemaking journey, you can enrol in one of Grahams Intensive Cheesemaking Courses, held in most cities across Australia or purchase one of the Easy to Make Cheesemaking Kits, loaded with recipes and lots of detailed instructions.
Ps, I forgot to add, as every cheesemaker will tell you, cheesemaking is 90% washing up