My 1st cheese!

I've taken up cheesemaking! With my ample free time available to silly hobbies, I've started dedicating myself to the art of cheese. I figured Ashton is making beer, Andy was making bread, what's the next best thing? Cheese! For someone as decidedly un-sciencey as myself, cheese is actually a pretty big challenge (what's a mesophilic culture??), but TOTALLY satisfying and REALLY fun. So far I've only got 1 cheese under my belt, but I've assembled a few more supplies and am ready for round 2!

The first cheese I made is probably one of the most basic ones around- a simple lemon basil cheese, made from a half gallon of pasteurized whole milk from a cow + 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, salt to taste, and some freshly picked basil from our pet plant. I slowly brought the milk up to 165 degrees F while stirring to avoid scalding, and once it was removed from the heat I added the lemon juice and let the mixture rest for 15 minutes. After that, I poured it into a cheesecloth lined colander and tied into into a ball and placed it in a large pot to catch the drippings while it sat in the fridge for an hour. Once I took it out, it had clumped into a ricotta-esque spread to which I added the salt and basil and voila! It's one of the few recipes that doesn't call for calcium chloride, rennet, or cultures, so for my first time it was absolutely perfect. In the end I could have used a bit more salt and maybe a tad more lemon juice for some zazz, but overall it was wonderfully spreadable and lent itself beautifully to a breakfast schmear.

Next I'll making paneer (the basic Indian cheese) and I've just gotten my cultures in the mail and some goat's milk chilling in the fridge, so stay tuned!