Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Cheese Making Course

Do I ever love to learn something new, and cheese-making has been on the list for at least 10 years! Today, I finally got to go to a course in a neighbouring town, taught by the very knowledgeable Bee. The focus on today's course was soft cheeses and we made a yogurt cheese, chevre, paneer, and cotija (a delicious Mexican taco cheese). Bee not only taught us the methods, but the science behind the methods, which I really appreciated. 
In the picture below are two types of coagulated milk. The pot to the right has been coagulated using an acid (vinegar) and the action is instantaneous and dramatic. Those curds became paneer. The pot on the left has been coagulated with rennet, an enzyme which produces a different kind of coagulation that is slower and gentler. These curds became chevre, a goat cheese.
 Here she is demonstrating a "clean break," the method used to show if the curds have formed properly and are ready for the next step.
 We very gently ladled the curds out and into a cheesecloth to drain out the whey. The cheesecloth that you find at the grocery store is not the kind that you would actually use in cheese making, as it is way too loosely woven. In this picture, she is actually using a do-rag, which even has the very handy ties to hang up the curds. Hilarious! She says it is the best cheesecloth she has found.
 The paneer curds were also transferred into cheesecloth to drain and then were pressed. Since we were short on time, we cut down the pressing time and froze it quickly before frying it up to eat.
She pressed the paneer initially by wrapping it in cheesecloth and pushing it on an upside down bowl. This kept the curds out of the whey.

 Next, she shaped it into a square and placed a plate over top with a full jug of water on top for weight.
And this is what it looked like finished.

 She had a very helpful diagram up on the wall to illustrate all of the processes for us!
 The cotija was a more-involved cheese. Instead of just ladling the curds out, we cut them, much the same as you would if you were making a hard cheese.
 We had to heat them and stir the cubed curds over heat, so that they would shrink and release more whey. The stirring process is very gentle and usually doesn't involve lifting the spoon out (this picture was just to illustrate the size of the curds).
It was amazing how much the curds shrunk up.

 For cotija, the curds are left in the pot and the whey is ladled out. When most of it is out, the curds are transferred into a cheese cloth. The curds are weighed and then we added 5% of their weight in salt and stirred it in. The curds are then transferred to a cheesecloth lined cheese mold and more whey is pressed out.

 You can use something as simple as a yogurt container with drainage holes cut into it for a cheese mold.

Because we ran out of time, we had to do a much shorter pressing time, but the cotija still tasted delicious! Very salty and I can imagine that it would taste delicious sprinkled over refried beans.
 Here is some of the paneer that was fried. So delicious, especially with some lime juice sprinkled over top.
And I left the workshop with a little kit of supplies to try making some of my own cheese. I am so excited! (Plus, she is going to be holding another workshop on the next level of cheese making!)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...