Cheese Fundamentals

This past weekend I finally spent my birthday money from Ma and Tom. I was looking for the perfect-for-me opportunity, and then my job loss delayed things even further. But finally I found exactly what I wanted, and I spent Saturday afternoon in a cheese making class.

Gisela, the owner of Curds and Wine, taught the three-hour Cheesemaking Fundamentals class.

Curds and Wine logo

Isn’t their logo adorable?

Gisela was willing to share what she’d learned, including a good many attempts that did not turn out as planned. I loved her motto that no matter what goes wrong, it’s still cheese. Considering my cheese “learning” opportunities at the beginning, I felt so much better hearing her exploits. In the class we watched Fromage Blanc (essentially cream cheese without the cream) and ricotta being made, and the steps involved in pressed cheeses were shown.

Even though I’d made cream cheese and ricotta on my own before, I learned a lot watching them being made. Coming from my yogurt background, I was VERY slowly heating the milk. Gisela cranked the heat and brought it to temperature in a fraction of the time. All right then. That tip gave me so much of my life back going forward! Also, citric acid is my new best friend. She recommended it over vinegar and lemon juice whose acidity can vary over time and who both impart flavor to the final product. Citric acid is consistent in its acidity and can’t be detected in the cheese.

It was pressed cheese section of the class description that enticed me to sign up. While there is no way I could tackle an aged cheese where I live now – I have too little space and little temperature regulation – a girl can dream of a future that involves a cheese fridge. I was bounce-up-and-down excited to learn that there is a cheese in between the soft, yogurt-based cheeses and the hard, aged cheeses that require all the special equipment. That cheese? Ricotta Salata.

Ricotta Salata

We had some to sample in class, and it was delicious. It is really firm and yummy. I was so excited by the prospect of this new-to-me cheese, that after class I spent the rest of my birthday money in the cheese supply store. I was amazed at how reasonable the prices were at Curds and Wine, even before the 10% coupon I got from the class. one more stop at the market on the way home to buy milk, and I immediately started to work. Stayed tuned for future updates on how the cheese making process is going.

What an awesome birthday gift! Thanks again, Ma.

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