Oct

17

Zen and the Art of Cheesemaking

cheesemaking


Making your own cheese is a great way to eat locally. Some local milk and some very local labor and you’ll be enjoying homemade cheese in under an hour.


My first memory of homemade cheese is from my teen years when my dad started making cheese. I remember cheesecloth balls draining at the sink. And yummy soft cheeses served just as is without even crackers. This was good stuff.


Looking back, I can see that my dad was an interesting mix of hi-tech gadget geek and a man longing for the old ways. When we lived in California we had an olive tree. So of course my dad set out to cure his own olives. Now that’s cool! My dad also made his own pasta, his own bread and, later in life, his own wine. His geek side meant that we had the first microwave, first VCR and first computer of anyone I knew.


I’m a bit of a gadget geek myself, but it was my dad’s hankering for homemade novelties that I remember most fondly. A few years before he died, my dad would wow relatives with his cheesemaking abilities, making a  beautiful, glossy, delicious round of mozzarella cheese in under an hour.


I like to think I take after my dad. For years, I have made my own bread, baked most things from scratch and helped with the family winemaking. (My geeky side means I have an iMac, and MacBook Pro and an iPhone.) So making cheese seemed like the obvious thing to do! In the last year or two, I’ve made mozzarella cheese a few times. With mixed success.


When it became clear that my dad was really dying, I set out to garner whatever cheesemaking ability he could pass on. So while my dad lay in his hospice bed in the living room (holding court as usual with lots of family members around), I set up in my mom’s kitchen with pots and bowls, thermometers and milk. At one point I snapped a quick picture of the developing curd with my iPhone so that Dad could take a critical look. That photo is here in this post. Yes, the curd was ready. Dad pronounced it! My perfect batch of mozzarella was soon ready to be tasted. I feel certain my dad was proud that day of that glossy ball of cheese. I’ll consider his wisdom passed on. So now it’s me that makes the cheese in the family (with plenty of help from husband). Some day I’ll pass the skill on to daughter.


I look back now and realize that the photo here was taken October 18, 2008. My dear dad passed away on October 22 (just days later). The cheese wisdom was passed on just in time!


For great information on cheesemaking and a recipe for mozzarella (and many more types of cheese) follow this LINK.


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