Making cheese the traditional way…

Making cheese the traditional way...

In Melbourne I’ve tried making cheese a few times, with rather mixed results.  I’ve looked up plenty about the science of cheese making and most of the info I can find involves expensive equipment, a dedicated dairy-room, sterilisation of everything in sight… and so on.  I’ve always known that people used to make cheese in a simpler environment, think of the grandfather in Heidi, by Joanna Spyri.  But how to access that information?

We got up early in the morning to go for a walk up the mountain to see the shepard milk his goats and make cheese with it.  He let the goats out to wander up the mountains, and at the end of the day rounds them up with the help of his sheep-dogs.

Making cheese the traditional way... 2

His operation was very simple, consisting of a pen in which the goats were held, caulron on a hotplate next to the pen, with a metal trough tilted to drain the whey into a plastic basin, and a few plastic cheese baskets and utensils.

Making cheese the traditional way... 3

 He ages his cheeses and makes rennet from the stomach of his sheep in this grotty little hut:

 

Making cheese the traditional way... 4

As you can see, not much sterilisation is involved.  He checks the temperature of the milk with his hands, pours in some rennet-water, pops off to sweep the goat manure while he waits for the milk to set (about 15 minutes), then gives his hands a quick rinse (I didn’t see any soap) and plunges them back into the milk to gather together the curds.

He piles the curds onto the trough, divides them among the cheese baskets, and presses out the whey with his hands.  No need for the $500 cheese press I was advised to purchase.

Making cheese the traditional way... 5

 

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