3/14/10

making cheese is whey cool

It's kind of weird to think about all the basic foods I've eaten my whole life but never made myself. Take for example: cheese. I've been thinking about this kind of thing post-soda-bread attempt and as I've been reading the culinary classic M.F.K. Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf, both of which remind me of my grandma, who has seemingly cooked, baked, fried and boiled all things consumable. So, when I happened upon the article Making Cheese: It’s as easy as 1-2-3 by Elaine Johnson and Margo True in the latest issue of Sunset Magazine, I was more than ready for the challenge.


Our version:
Like most home chefs, we’re unaccustomed to intentionally leaving multiple dairy products out overnight, but the cheese-making process is all about it, and by it, I mean creating a welcoming and comforting home for bacteria. The trick is letting the good bacteria in and keeping the bad stuff whey the eff out (did you see what I did there?).
                 
So first things first: boil all utensils for twenty minutes.

Next, you ripen the milk by bringing it up to a not so hot 85 degrees.
Some things you’ll need that you probably don't have on hand include the fromage blanc culture, calcium chloride (a compound used to remove moisture and help “firm up the curds”) and vegetarian rennet, used to coagulate the milk–you must, at all costs, coagulate that milk. Are you ready? Good. Let’s do this.
Next, you cover the pot with cheesecloth and move on to your second homemade dairy product process. See, to make fromage blanc the way Cowgirl Creamery does, you need to add creme fraiche, which we realized we could also make ourselves by simply mixing 1 cup of heavy whipping creme with 2 tablespoons of buttermilk... of course you let that mixture sit out overnight so it can begin to go bad/good.
Moving on to day two.

Curds and whey, as a couplet, had previously only been familiar to me in the form of something Miss Muffet snacked on before an insufferable spider sat down beside her, but look--it's real: the whey is what drips down through the cheesecloth and collects in a kind of yellow, cloudy, watery pool and what you can make ricotta cheese with according to the Sunset directions. We opted out of using the whey as one cheese felt like enough for our first fromage attempt, but what I found out a little too late was that you can use the whey to make bread--just use it in place of water in any simple bread recipe. Cool, right? (Also, apologies to Grandma for tossing out whey, but then again, let's be honest, none of my family members are reading this blog. And I am perfectly OK with that.)
Now, you watch in awe as your mixture slowly begins to turn into fromage blanc.
And after eight hours, you stir in the homemade creme fraiche, pack the fromage blanc into this Weck jar and share the delicious finished product with all of your friends.
I must say, this was an incredibly satisfying attempt. Hope you guys try it out, too!

Also, much thanks to Bon Appetit for featuring Bon Appetempt this week! 
Print Friendly and PDF

16 comments:

Matthew said...

The fromage blanc is amazing. I heard a rumor that we are making fromage blanc brownies with the excess -- can you confirm or deny?

Mary Anne said...

so what does it taste like???

amelia said...

ooops, guess I forgot to mention the taste.

It's like a milder and fresher-tasting cream cheese, and a bit tangier too. Matt thinks it's better with sweet things like a graham cracker and honey, but I liked it on a piece of toasted baguette. YUM.

Jessica said...

I can't believe you actually made cheese! I love fromage blanc and I am totally attempting this next weekend. Where do I pick up the cultures?
- Jess

abby said...

My boyfriend and I bought the equipment for and have been planning on making cheese for awhile but haven't got around to it. Glad to see it is as easy as it seems and that yours was a success!

tryingchard said...

Great pictures! That's really the only way I am able to learn so they are a huge help. I didn't see a link for the ingredients so I thought I'd share where I got mine at: www.mondofood.com. Hopefully the link will be of help for someone.

amelia said...

thanks, tryingchard. And sorry, Jessica. Failed to mention that. We got our calcium chloride at Surfas in Los Angeles and the fromage blanc culture (which included vegetarian rennet) from www.cheesemaking.com.

Rachael, Pistachio Press said...

Oh my, this sounds delicious! I might have to give it a try in the near future :)

Heather Taylor said...

this is super impressive amelia! we went to a burrata making party once which was mega fun in theory BUT what we ended up making was just a mild, light yellow, non-creamy cheese. Not burrata at all. The teacher was ashamed and disappeared without any of us knowing he had left. Now when I see him at the Surfas cheese counter he ignores me. :(

cathy said...

i made such a pig of myself that day at heath but it's quite addictive!
especially paired with that jam

Wendy JUng said...

I also made a pig of myself. I'm so lucky I work with you and get to sample your master-work.

amelia said...

so glad you guys enjoyed the cheese!

we actually still have some left...running out of fromage blanc combinations. :(

Jessica {The Novice Chef} said...

This looks fabulous! I am so glad I discovered your blog!!

Megan Taylor said...

Amelia! The bon appetit feature is so exciting...you are famous!!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jodi said...

mmmmm! i want to try this!