The other morning, I came home from the farm with our usual milk and eggs and a basket of fresh-picked raspberries. The berries and eggs went right into the makings of breakfast, but I had a different plan for this morning's milk.
I've been wanting to make cheese for a while now, but try as I might, I couldn't find a local source for rennet (which is surprising to me here on the outskirts of a big, food-happy city). Oh, but I do love the internet for moments like these. I ordered a liquid vegetable rennet from this store, so I was ready to go.
Except of course for the usual hemming and hawing that accompanies any new task I undertake, as I read and think and debate the best way to do it. As usual, I decided to just jump in, and as usual, it wasn't bad at all.
I used this recipe for farmer's cheese as a guide, cutting it in half to accomodate the half gallon of milk on hand and adjusting the rennet amounts per the instructions on the rennet bottle.
curds cut into a grid pattern
seasonings for the cheese: sea salt, dill, cracked pepper and garlic powder
Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth lined colander. Wrap the cloth around the curds, tying the corners together, and hang over a bowl to drain for about 1 hour.
hanging the curds to drain
Return curds to bowl and break into small pieces. Place curds in a clean cheesecloth and press for 12-24 hours. For a press, we placed the cheese between two plates under a large cast-iron pot filled with water.
after pressing, the finished product
The fresh cheese had that unmistakable cheese curd "squeak" when bit into, a quality that mellowed after refrigerating. I've discovered that I may not like dill in cheese, but aside from that, I am happy with how the cheese turned out. Now that I've gotten my toes wet, I'm ready to forge ahead, trying out a variety of cheese recipes. I'll be sure to let you know how they turn out!