They say that bakers, cheese makers and chocolatiers are the alchimists of food. I must have a little dissatisfied alchimist inside of me as, of many possible interests in the kitchen, what really gets my attention and makes me feel the sacred fire is baking bread. And I have the feeling that the fire could be fueled also by cheese and chocolate making.
Just like when I started to bake bread and grow my own sourdough – about one year ago (can you believe I never ever baked bread before?) – the first time I just did it. Without much thinking or preparation. And absolutely no special tool. Regarding bread, for instance, one may be surprised that I still do not own a baking stone. And I got my first scoring blade something like 2 months ago.
So, for my initiation to cheese making I did not prepare much. Just ordered some rennet (caglio) online – with an investment of 60 kr (8 dollars) – and used a plastic colander as a drainer and mold. As you can see, some pretty edible fresh cheese was the result of this first clumsy experiment and, if I did it, anyone can do it (scroll down for the method – la versione in italiano e’ in arrivo).
You need: rennet* (I used 2 tea-spoon of my Swedish one), 3 liters (0.8 gallon) whole-fat milk (possibly organic), 3 table-spoon filmjölk (sour milk) , salt.
*the amount depends on the concentration, which is generally indicated on the box. I will, from now on, use vegetable rennet, as the regular one is very far from being vegetarian (just google about it and you will understand)
How to: warm up the milk to 37 degrees (Celsius, 98 Fahrenheit), add the rennet and let it do it’s job. It takes 45-60 minutes for the milk to coagulate. With a slotted spoon collect the floating pieces of coagulated milk in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and let drain overnight (see picture below).
The morning after, invert the cheese on a plate and place it back in the colander, upside down. Sprinkle with salt and transfer to the fridge. It will be ready after a few hours.
CONSIDERATIONS: This was unbelievably easy and the end result looked and tasted like a pretty decent fresh cheese. Something between a ricotta and a toma. Now, as a matter of fact, I did want to make stracchino – and I will get there, eventually The reason why I though of starting with cheese making indeed is the impossibility of finding real fresh Italian cheese in Sweden. And what is life without some super fresh Italian cheese? Still craving my stracchino, I will for now enjoy this fresh something-something cheese. The road is long but the path sounds exciting. Stay tuned!
So easy to make and so pretty to look at…