Tuesday, February 14, 2012

♥ Cheesey Valentine's Day Post ♥



I have been promising this post for a few weeks now - so as a Valentine's Day special, here is my cheesey post.  I have been thinking about cheese making for a long time, but always thought it was a future project - something to take up when our own cows are in milk, and I have gallons of the raw stuff to deal with. I also thought it was very technical and difficult, and I would need to go on a cheese making course to learn.  Silly me.  Of course, I can start experimenting right now - right here in my very own kitchen - using shop bought milk!!! And so can you..... let's give it a go.
We are making a neufchatel - a soft creamy cheese - not unlike philadelphia, but a bit tangier like a crowdie. The recipe comes from this book, and I did follow if fairly closely the first time, so that's what we'll do here.



You need:

1 gallon (3.78 litres) whole milk (unhomogenised if possible)
1 pint (500ml) double (heavy) cream
1 packet mesophillic starter*
3 drops liquid rennet diluted in 1/3 cup cool water (about 5 tablespoons)+
Salt (says optional but I do think a little brings out the  taste)

*I ordered mine along with the rennet from here - it is enough to do 50 litres of milk, so you just shake a little out - not very precise, but that's what they say) and seal up the sachet with tape and keep it in your freezer. There are lots of places that sell this - search for mesophillic starter and hundreds of sites will pop up.  
+ I am being quite specific here, as the recipe says the exact amount is important. 



Combine milk and cream and heat very gently


until liquid reaches temp of 80F.  Then shake out some of your starter and mix thoroughly.  Add 1 teaspoon of the diluted rennet and stir gently in a back and forwards motion. Cover and let mixture set in a warm room (70f) for 12-18 hours.


 It will look like thick lumpy yoghurt when set.


Pour into a sieve lined with muslin and set over a bowl to drain.  You can tie the corners and hang it up over a bowl to drip, but the first time I made this I wasn't careful enough - being drenched with a gallon of sour milk is not nice.  Anyway - let it drip until it drips no more (between 6-12 hours)



Line a colander with a clean piece of cloth and put into another container. Place the (still wrapped) cheese into this and cover with the new cloth.  Put a plate on the cheese and then a weight on the plate.  The book says the weight of 2 bricks is sufficient, but I used a large stone from the beach, which I use for all these kinds of weighty tasks.  Put the pot into the 'fridge and press for 13 hours. (I think mine might have been more like 16 hours, but it was fine).


Looking good!


Turn out into a bowl, add a good pinch of salt (you can add herbs here too if you like) and then knead thoroughly with your hands until it holds together.


Divide and shape into 4 rounds (or hearts), wrap in waxed paper and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 



Or eat straight away, piled onto oatcakes or - toast - straight from the bowl, even - or how about making the ultimate cheescake! Mmmm - yes.

It is a good recipe to experiment with.  If I have some spare milk, I will just use that, with a dollop of cream, shake of starter culture and a more diluted rennet solution. It is great fun, and the cheese is always delicious and so fresh tasting.  Try it - I am sure you will love it ♥ 

33 comments:

  1. This is something I MUST try - I love crowdie on oatcakes and would feel like the true domestic goddess I could acheive homemade cheese on homemade oatcakes!!!

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    1. Oh yes, LM I feel very Goddess-like. Give it a go xxx

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  2. This is the best kind of cheesy blog post! Looks delicious. I've always put cheese making off as a future project too. Now, thanks to you, I can put it on the Doable-Fairly-Soon (I hope) list. Thanks for the info and inspiration.

    Blessings...

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    1. Hey, WSW - it is amazingly do-able. I always imagined I would need loads of equipment and
      mY own milking cow or goat - but I guess I was looking at it from my passive consumerist mindset. Join the revolution - lol. xxx

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  3. I never realised it could be so simple!

    I can only get UHT milk in packets here, would that work?

    I make natural yoghurt using powdered milk and it turns out just fine. We have to use what we can get here!

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  4. Just one other thing so I get it clear, you put three drops of rennett into five tablespoons of water but you actually use just one teaspoon of the dilution?

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  5. That's right - you dilute the rennet and then use one teaspoon. You can use dried or uht for soft cheeses, so I guess you are good to go. It would certainly be worth a try. Let me know how you get on.

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  6. Great Cheesy Post, and I hope you have a great Valentines day.

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  7. Wow, it looks amazing! First attempt too...you must be really chuffed! :) xx

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  8. Oh you have no idea how happy this post has made me, thank you soo much! For nearly twenty years here all I have been eating is something like Dutch Edam or a very creamy fatty slimy processed muck that comes in foil wrapped triangles in a small round box called Vaca que Rir, the smiling cow. The big (the only big) supermarket in Luanda sometimes sells a very hard Cheddar style cheese but it is eyewateringly expensive. I will get my brother in Germany to send me the rennett and starter and then I will give it a go and let you know how I get on. Red hot chilli cream cheese anyone? Perfect for evening munchies and guaranteed to aid with early morning constitutionals...

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  9. That's superb - another person here who has been musing over the idea of cheesemaking, might have a go sooner rather than later. If you ever read the "Barefoot Kitchen Witch" blog she's very into her cheesemaking too - she's been doing it for several years now and has done all sorts.

    Thanks for sharing your cheesiness!

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  10. I guess I will need to search for non-homogenised milk and give this a try. I like the idea of adding a pinch of herbs. Happy Valentine's Day.

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    1. Meggie I wouldn't stress looking for it - as Hippo says use what you have and see how it goes xxx

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  11. Wow, that looks a bit too easy!! Really, it's that simple? Hmmm, I can see another project looming ;). Although for us to have spare milk in this house is quite a novelty, I would have to hide it before I got around to making the cheese!!

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  12. I love, love this! Yay for homemade cheese! And beautiful cheese at that! You're so right about not having to wait to have your own cow (though it'd be lovely!) -- thanks so much for sharing this. I'm going to try it too. xo

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  13. Ooh lovely, haven't done this for ages - I do find it needs a good bit of salt. I think I may gave to get some supplies and do this with dd sometime soon.

    Looks delicious on your oatcake x

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  14. I never would have thought it would be this easy. Making cheese is now on my future to-do list.

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  15. i haven't done this either for many years, but soon as i eat dairy again, i'm making your recipe! looks wonderful and a great tutorial jacqui, thank you!
    happy valentines day!

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    1. Happy Valentine's Day to you, dear Lori - I hope you are well very soon xxx

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  16. I can not wait to try this! I have made yogurt cheese and paneer [which is really easy] so it is time to expand my experience!
    Happy St. Valentine's Day!

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  17. My mum use to make cheese from goats milk (we had goats and cows at various times), I don't remember if she used rennet etc, I just remember it coverd in muslin left to drip in the cold cellar into a milk urn. I don't even really remember the taste, just that it looked a lot like cottage cheese.

    Pity she never wrote down how she made it.

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    1. Hi Jacqui - Your Mum wouldn't need to use anything as she was lucky enought to have raw milk. It can be left to sour naturally, then you would jut heat it up slowly until the curds separated then hang it up to drip. Pastuerised milk doesn't sour naturally - it just goes bad, so that is why we need to add the culture and rennet. I am so looking forward to milk from our own cows. xxx

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  18. wow...this looks really delicious. I would love to make this with goats milk.
    You are inspiring.x

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  19. This looks fabulous! I know that if I just purchase the starter and rennet the battle is won... ;)

    Blessings, Debbie

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  20. mmmm, one day I'll do this, reckon my sister (being more goddess like than me) will get around to it first! I also need to check out a veggie alternative to the rennet first but you inspire as always! X

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    Replies
    1. Rose ~ you are the ultimate goddess - we all are in different ways. You can get vegetarian rennet, so there is no excuse :) xxx

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  21. Oh, YAY! Thank you, thank you for the excellent tutorial. After my butter-making adventure, I was really wanting to try cheese, but unsure where to start. This is perfect. And I love your cheesy hearts :)
    -Jaime

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  22. Thanks for making it all sound so simple :) I've never made cheese and this has enticed me to try - thanks also for the rennet link :)

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  23. That cheese looks incredible! I would love to true making some one day

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  24. You are funny, Jacqui! Your post title made me laugh. Thanks.

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  25. This is great and on my to-do list now!

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