Photos and recipes of new cheeses created by me and contributing hobbyists will rotate through on a regular basis.
Making Cheese in Clay Vessels Using Natural Plant Coagulants
Because this method of cheese making is ancient and simple, I have chosen to leave the instructions in a narrative format. You can use raw or pasteurized cow or goat milk. I hope you’ll try making cheese this way at least once to experience the process. As noted in the recipe, the cheese is best if consumed 3 days-1 week from the time it is made.
Natural plant coagulants are those which are used in their natural state to coagulate milk; cardoon and other thistle stamen, nettles, and yarrow are easiest to grow and harvest from your garden. Cardoon thistle stamens can also be purchased online from www.tagines.com. If you have fig trees nearby, fig tree bark can also be used. To use the nettles and yarrow first crush the plant matter to release the useful extract before adding it to the milk. These natural coagulants are first infused into heated milk, and then strained out before making the cheese. Use only a small amount; only as much as is needed to coagulate the milk. Too much of any of the natural coagulants can result in bitter tasting curds.
Perfect for cheese making or any type of clay pot cooking, a large assortment of clay vessels is available at Bram clay pot cookware in Sonoma, or online at www.bramcookware.com.
Use the simple cheese making method listed below, substituting one of these natural coagulants for the rennet. Start by using a large pinch of the thistle stamens; or a small chunk of bark or yarrow; or a few leaves of the nettle. Add the coagulant to the milk, bring the milk to temperature, and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain out the bits of plant and continue on to make the cheese as directed.
If after a few hours after straining the milk you do not see coagulation, add a small amount of diluted rennet to cause coagulation. Heat milk to 86 degrees F,
and then stir in 3 drops rennet diluted in water. Then follow the rest of the directions below. The infusion of the thistle stamen will have given some tart earthiness to
the curds, and therefore to the cheese.
Photos: Mary Karlin
Blue Jack-style Cheese
Jack cheese is an American original; one that everyone loves. It’s moist, creamy, and very versatile. Currently there are a few Jack-style cheeses showing up from notable cheese makers with just a
bit of blue in the crevices. That small amount of tangy blue mold in contrast with the creamy paste makes for a subtle, but delicious, lightly flavored blue. To make my version, some p. rouqeforti
mold is added between layers of curds before pressing in a cheese mold. As an alternative, the cheese can be pressed in the cheesecloth sack as the Jack Cheese recipe (page 96-97) directs. By
pressing with only 5 pounds of weight, desirable small crevices are left in the pressed curds for the blue mold to develop. No piercing occurs.
Makes one 2-pound cheese or two 1-pound cheeses
Click here for recipe