Welcome to my “Recommended” series of posts. These will be weekly – for now – posts about resources I have found over the past while that I found so excellent, I want to share them with you, my dear readers. 🙂 Whether or not I continue to post these, and how often they are posted, will depend on feedback. Please feel free to comment below, and if you have a favorite resource of your own, do share, and I will review them for possible future posts.
I hope you find these recommendations as useful and enjoyable as I have!
When I was a kid, I was pretty indifferent to cheese. For commercial cheese, we got your basic cheddar, processed cheese slices, and I even remember the odd block of Velveeta (yeah, I know…). I honestly don’t think there was much else available. Some Mozzarella, cream cheese, marble cheese and grated Parmesan in a shaker. The odd triangle of expensive blue cheese. Our choices were limited.
Even as an adult, there really wasn’t a lot of variety available. I liked cheese, certainly, but it wasn’t really a thing for me. The one major discovery for me was commercial cottage cheese. My mother made cottage cheese, and I really didn’t like it. I recently asked her how she made it, since I only remembered bits and pieces, and it was far more convoluted than I expected. It took two days, and included the addition of baking soda, but no cream.
The end product was very, very dry.
It was, of course, used as a filling in pierogi. I loved my mother’s potato pierogi, but never liked the ones with cottage cheese or sauerkraut stuffings. So very un-Polish of me. 😀
Then one day, I tried commercial cottage cheese and realized that yeah, that stuff is actually good!
Over the years, I regularly bought cheddar, but every now and then I’d get adventurous and try some Havarty or Montery Jack. Discovering Brie was an eye opening experience for me. I’d never had anything like it before, and it’s still one of my favourite cheeses.
Then, a few years back, one of our local grocery stores added a new cheese section.
You know you’re getting old when something like that is exciting. 😀
Suddenly, there was the wild and crazy selection of cheeses available, at pretty much every major grocery store. Then we found a local chain that specialized in European imports, baked their own bread in wood fired ovens, and had a deli consistently rated as the best in the city, year after year. It was thanks to this store that I discovered charcuterie platters, which became a much enjoyed treat, any time we could. We began to try new cheeses every time we could squeeze it into the budget.
I definitely was interested in making other cheeses, and never really thought I could do more than make something like mozzarella or ricotta – cheeses that don’t require any aging. Then we moved provinces, and I discovered that apparently, cheeses just aren’t as popular out here. The specialty cheese sections in grocery stores don’t have anywhere near the variety, even in the city, that we’d become used to. But, what are we to do? It’s not like we could make any of these, ourselves, right? I mean, it’s not like we had access to raw milk in the first place, never mind the equipment, space, access to cultures and so on. I knew people who did make cheeses like Gouda at home, but they were farmers with cows or goats they were milking.
Then I stumbled upon The Curd Nerd, Gavin Webber, and his YouTube channel.
Talk about inspiring!!
Gavin Webber is an Australian who has been doing cheese making tutorials and “Ask the Cheesemaker” live streams and podcasts since late 2009. You’ll find videos on the making of MANY different types of cheese, followed up later with taste tests. He talks about what equipment is needed (much less than I expected), how to sanitize them, how to age cheese in a fridge, how to wax cheeses, and more. All done in his own home.
He even talks about the failures.
There are even videos on how to clean your cheese cloth, and other topics, like making mead, and the construction of his cob oven.
It was these next two videos – especially the taste testing one – that won me over.
We need to start making our own cheese.
I just love how enthusiastic and excited he gets about cheese!!! Oh, how I want to be tasting those cheeses with him!
I now feel we actually can start making a wide variety of cheeses at home. We are looking to convert the old root cellar into a cheese cave, but even if it turns out to not have the conditions needed, I now know we can work around that and still be able to make our own ages cheeses – in varieties that are not available locally, or well beyond our budget to indulge in.
After finding this channel, I’m downright excited about the possibilities.
Who knows. I might even become a Curd Nerd myself!