Have you ever thought about making your own cheese? Easier just to run down to a great cheese store like Murray’s right? True, but don’t you wonder how easy/hard it really is? For the Accidental Locavaore it was a natural spin-off after making my own yogurt . In New York, most cheesemaking classes are just making mozzarella or ricotta, however I wanted to get into something more complex. Murray’s finally offered a Cheesemaking 101 class so I went down to check it out. All the classes there are small and you’re always guaranteed excellent cheese to taste (not to mention the run of the store to buy whatever after class) and this was no exception. I had thought it was going to be hands-on, DIY cheese, however it turned out to be a lecture on what goes into cheesemaking. Interesting but ultimately disappointing as I was prepared to start turning milk into much better stuff.
A lot of simple, fresh cheeses are pretty easy to make. As with yogurt, it’s just a matter of heating milk to a certain point and adding some sort of starter. Then you need to suspend the belief that any milk left out on the counter overnight will kill you, it won’t. After that it’s all about separating the curds and whey, letting the curds drain and come together and voila, cheese! Sascha, our instructor, passed around a lovely fresh goat cheese she had made the night before and was working on a ricotta that wouldn’t come together for some reason. We also got to be the first to taste Kinderhook Creek, the newest cheese from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. You might know their Camembert (delicious) or their blue cheese (also wonderful), this was a mellow semi-soft cheese. Although Murray’s had aged it in their cave I thought it could have been a little riper to give it a little more pronounced flavor. Fussy, huh?
So what’s up with the crème fraiche? If you’ve ever wondered what to do with leftover buttermilk, crème fraiche is the answer. Mix 2 tablespoons of buttermilk with a cup of heavy (whipping) cream in a glass container. Cover and let it stand at room temperature for 8-24 hours (this is what I meant about suspending belief) until very thick. It will keep (and get a bit thicker) in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Serve and enjoy.