I have rather fancied myself a cheesemaker for quite some time, and I finally took the plunge a few days after the earthquake and bought a cheesemaking kit! It was a bit of an impulse buy, while I was at Bin Inn buying spelt flour for my spelt bread, I spied a vibrant purple box that claimed I could easily make cheese at home. So, I thought, there was no time like the present to give it a go!
My first attempt was a delightfully easy cream cheese. It needed a bit of salt, which I never got around to adding, because it was all consumed rather quickly, but it was still delicious and the perfect consistency! Second up was feta. This took a little bit more time, but only in small parts over a few hours. For example, I needed to scald my milk and then add the rennet and culture and let it sit for an hour. Then, stirring was required, and finally draining the set curds from the whey. All in all, I probably spent around 20 minutes actually actively doing something. The feta turned out amazingly! It's salty and creamy and is much, much better than anything I have tasted from the shops for quite some time. I made it with cow's milk, not the traditional goat's milk, but all in all, I am pretty darn happy with the outcome. My third variety of cheesy goodness was halloumi. This squeaky, salty wonderfulness reminds me of the 'queso' or cheese I ate when I was in Costa Rica. It doesn't melt when heated, but holds it's shape, going soft and ever so slightly chewy in the middle. This also required not too much time on my behalf, but the making was spread over a few hours. The final product was divine! I grilled it and served it up on a salad of noodles, spinach, capsicum, carrot, fresh basil, coriander and mint, with a spicy Thai dressing of olive oil, wine vinegar, fish sauce, sweet chilli sauce, brown sugar, soy and sesame seeds.
My cheesemaking kit is from Mad Millies (who has a fantastic website, by the way), and if you are thinking of giving cheesemaking a go, I highly recommend this as a starting point! I bought my kit from Bin Inn, but there are other stockists around the country and you can buy everything online if you prefer. I haven't bothered buying the equipment kit; I fashioned a bain marie-type set-up with a small pot inside a larger pot to keep the milk at the right temperature, and, the kit I bought came with it's own feta mold and strainer. The one think I think I will need to purchase is a thermometer; I am borrowing a friend's preserving one at the moment.
So go on, have a try. And let me know how it goes! I would love to hear about anyone elses adventures in cheesemaking!