Food

Cheese Making

For the beginning cheese maker some of the terms and ingredients may be confusing. The process is simple enough to teach to school age children, but for those who don't understand what is happening it may seem a bit mystical.

For example, in cheese making rennet is the so-called active ingredient, the item that causes the reaction that creates cheese from milk. Rennet is derived from a complex combination of enzymes that all mammals carry in their stomachs. In the young animal, the enzymes are used to break down and digest the mother's milk. For use in cheese making rennet is what causes the milk fats to separate from the liquids, coagulating into curds. After that is is a simple as flavoring and pressing the curds to remove the remaining liquids and aging or maturing the cheese. It might be hard for the first time maker to resist the urge to eat it all right away, so aging will be considered optional.

There are so many aspects of cheese making that make it a hobby or project that everyone should try at least once. For students of life that like to get their hands dirty and play with the natural processes of the world, it is a must try. For families it can be a great weekend project. Food lovers and chefs will all eventually get around to experimenting with it, creating their own exciting flavors and styles. It is easy to add spice and herbs to a batch during the pressing, anything from jalapenos and chili peppers to basil and oregano.

Equipment can be as simple or complex as you want it to be as well, a small investment will ensure perfectly shaped and pressed cheese for years to come, but if you're unsure about the hobby, it can be made with cobbled together pieces from the kitchen and the work bench. If intended as a gift it is always more impressive to have the real equipment though, as the presentation of a perfect wheel of cheese sealed in wax would be the hit of any holiday or occasion.

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