we made cheese!
Excitement is in the air as we purchased out first gallon of milk that is designated specifically for cheese. Joel spent the first night with his new cheese recipe book. He flipped through the pages as if they were antiques, as to not disturb their pristine condition. Hours went by on that Friday night as the milk sat in the fridge just waiting to be morphed into something better. We decided to begin easy and make a fresh cheese called queso fresco. It is a mexican-style cheese that is great on tacos. We got up first thing on Saturday morning and sanitized everything. We were ready to begin. As we started this process we soon realized we were going to be in the kitchen for a very, long time. Cheese making is NOT simple or easy. There is a point at which you have to raise the temp up 2 degrees every 5 minutes over 45 minutes time, or you have to keep the temp at 116 degrees for 45 minutes. There are half a dozen different steps before you even cut the curds. Once it is drained, you have to put the cheese curds into a mold and set 10 lbs. of weight for 30 minutes then add another 30 lbs. for the next 6 hours. Once in the fridge some cheeses have to be rotated once a day and brushed with olive oil and salt, some have to be brined for 12 hours. Needless to say, it is a process! I helped with the first two batches and anytime we try a new one I get involved but I can be the first to say that I am a bit impatient. I am a baker and I love baking new things but the benefit is that I can taste my product and make sure it is good right after I am done making it. Well cheese is different- the manchego cheese has to age at least a month so you have no idea if it even tastes good. Joel is amazing and he has all the patience in the world when it comes to his cheese and as we broke into his first aged cheese, although he was very nervous, he tasted it first and his nerves soon turned to excitement as he found that it actually tasted great! Every evening when we are cleaning up the mound of pots and pans and he has been on his feet for literally 8-12 hours, he finishes up and states, "I can't wait till next saturday to do this again."