Cheese and Soap

Cheese and Soap

I had the most wonderful afternoon yesterday. Andy came around so we could taste the cheese we made three weeks ago. I had baked a white sourdough to compliment it, and the first delight was that the bread was perfect – a show-off loaf that both looked and tasted exquisite.

The cheese itself was unbelievably good. It tasted rich, creamy and strong, with a hint of mould which added the most exquisite flavour. I couldn’t believe we’d made it ourselves, and that this was the result after just three weeks of maturing. I didn’t snap a pic of the cheese just before we ate it, but you can see in the photo the curds as we drained them three weeks ago. Paula, Andy and I started dreaming about how we could make a trip to an organic dairy farm, spend a weekend making several batches of cheese, all of which can be eaten at various stages of maturity through the year. Paula was totally enthusiastic, which fired my own enthusiasm.

Andy had also brought over everything we need to make soap. Paula, Jesse and I rarely use soap – a cake of soap lasts us a year. Andy goes through a fair bit more of it, and has made it before. He came equipped with caustic soda, thermometers and his own beeswax, harvested himself from his bees. He deliberately chose a “dirty” batch, so that our soap would have flecks in it. The beeswax smelled incredible – rich and honey sweet. Three bees immediate popped in for a sniff once we started melting it on the stove. We poured into a piece of plumbing pipe to use as a mould. The soap is naturally yellow and we’re aiming for a slice-of-lemon effect with the finished pieces.

Next I covered the leftover cheese in wax. I divided it into two chunks, one for Andy and one for me, and we’ll let them both mature for longer and see how they turn out with more time. The wax is to stop it drying out. Earlier in the week I’d also made myself another batch of cheese, which I divided into two rounds. I decided to wax one round and leave the other, so I can compare how they work if more moisture is trapped in early compared to if it’s left to dry for longer before waxing. Although I was really alarmed at the mould from the first batch, and had read it should be cleaned off with paper towel dipped in vinegar, the mould gave the cheese such an exquisite flavour that I’ll see if I can get the unwaxed round of cheese to go mouldy. Here’s the results of our work. You can see the two leftover chunks of cheese made by Andy and me, all waxed, my two round batches of new cheese – one waxed and one not, and the polypipe tube of our soap. Yeah!

Cheese and Soap 2

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