I love to learn, and I especially love to learn new tips and tricks for the kitchen. So of course, I said “yes, please,” when I was asked if I wanted to learn how to make cheese!
Last week I hotfooted it to the Cheesemaking Workshop for a cheese class with a difference. This was a fundraiser for Stepping Stone House, a house for homeless teenagers who through no fault of their own find themselves unable to live at home. Susan from the Cheesemaking Workshop kindly donated her time, the venue and shared lots of knowledge and cheese, so all the money raised went directly to Stepping Stone House! Thanks, Susan!
To be honest, I’d always shied away from cheesemaking thinking it was such a tricky business and so scientific. For the record, I flunked every single science subject at school. I would always get an A for effort but an E for attainment. So I breathed a huge sigh of relief, when Susan told us that she was going to take the science out of cheesemaking, and show us how we could make cheese at home, just like people have been doing for thousands of years.
First off, if you want to be a cheesemaker extraordinaire, you have to keep everything clean. Really clean! Heat sterilising is the best way to clean your kit, and your dishwasher is the perfect accessory. If you don’t have a dishwasher, a big pan of boiling water will do!
“Your cheese can only be as good as your milk.” It’s really important that you buy unhomogenized milk. It’s like the milk we used to get when I was a kid with the cream on the top. This milk makes the best cheese.
Susan showed us how to make feta. I felt like a modern Little Miss Muffet, cutting and turning our curds and whey. It was super easy. There was no special equipment either, just a pallette knife, a styrofoam box, a large tupperware container and a “cheese cutter” (aka cooling rack.)
Sarah, who co-ordinated the event showed us how to make ricotta in the Thermomix. It was so simple. This is definitely something I’m going to try at home.
Then, Susan produced this… a cheeseboard of champions! All the cheeses on this board were made by home cheesmakers in one of the workshops. Isn’t that amazing? There was something for everyone; 6 months aged Cheddar, Camembert, Labne, marinated feta, quark and even some quince paste. In the interest of research, I felt that I should try a bit of everything, and everything was totally delicious. I especially loved the labne. Divine!
After waxing lyrical over the cheese, we returned to check on the feta for one last cut and turn, before leaving it in a brine solution for a few days to set nicely. The ricotta was ready though, so we gave it a taste test and then tucked into this feast which was kindly brought by the Thermomix ladies in the class. Oh, the joys of thermomixing! As you can see, I was so busy chowing down that I forgot to take photos of the beautiful buffet. Look at what was left when I finally got camera ready…
These ricotta custards were made with home made ricotta right here at the workshop! Nom!
You can find the recipe for these little babies here. So simple and so yummy!
I’m definitely going to try and make my own cheese at home so watch this space! I might even pop back to see Susan. Her comprehensive one day workshops cover everything from Camembert to Quark, and Mascarpone to Yoghurt. More cheese, please!
For more information on Cheesemaking Workshops
Phone: 02 9958 0909 or 0412 145 017