The newbie makes chèvre.
Huzzah! I have created cheese.
I'm a big fan of Etsy, an online marketplace that features vintage items, handmade goods, and crafting supplies. I guess you could say it's a bohemian take on Ebay. It was on Etsy that I discovered Claudia Lucero and her do-it-yourself cheesemaking shop, UrbanCheeseCraft. Options include mozzarella, paneer, ricotta, queso blanco, and of course, chèvre. I showed Will and he suggested that I try my hand at making chèvre. I cried "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED" in my head, and here I am. Oh dear.
The last and only time I made cheese, I was a sophomore in an honors biology class in high school. The teacher gave all of us the willies--he had a teeny pouf of hair at the front of his otherwise bald head that he would ask us to braid on occasion. His classroom was never vacuumed and I once saw shelves lined with jars of pickled animals in his storage closet. He had a parrot that would fly around the room and poop on us. Needless to say, none of us actually ate the cheese after we made it.
This time, however, things came together in a much more attractive little package. There were a couple moments of panic--once in front of the dairy aisle at the grocery store (remember, I'm lactose intolerant?) and once when the milk wouldn't foam--but the outcome was beautifully tangy, creamy, newbie-made chèvre.
It really was that simple. Check out the instructions:
1. Mix citric acid into water
2. Heat the milk until it's foamy
3. Drizzle in the citric acid
4. Stir until you see a separation between curds and whey
5. Pour curds and whey into a cloth-lined colander
6. Shape and press cheese!
It all took around an hour. Given my limited experience with cheese, I don't have much to say regarding nuances or specific textures. I will, however, say that I feel like I've had my moment of cheese clarity. The whole thing was just...exciting to me. Considering my first cheesemaking experience, I thought I would leave the entire process to the dairy farms and factories. Now, I'm not so sure. I had no idea that it was so easily achievable. In any case, I'm excited and my eyes have been opened. I just madechèvre, folks. That's pretty cool.
You can read culture's own chèvre recipe here.
Photographs by Joseph Yu