Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Art of Cheesemaking



If I lived in Europe, I would have never thought of making my own cheese. But as things stand in Mumbai, you can't do much in the way of eating cheese without rueing the lack of variety. Or more recently, feeling the pinch of high prices of imported cheeses.

I've made paneer all my life and I successfully made mascarpone once, so I thought that making the other kinds of cheese can't be all that hard. What I didn't reckon was the lack of one crucial cheesemaking component : rennet. Not just in India, I looked through all stores I could my last trip to London and no one stocked rennet. Then my friend went to US and looked through several stores until she hit one obscure one in Texas that parted with rennet tablets.

For my first use of rennet, I picked the very easy Neufchatel. Brush and spoon explains the process with some detailed pictures and it does take a while to make, but not even 10 minutes in terms of active effort. The rest of it is just patient waiting.

What I did was mix a litre of milk and 2 tbsp of cultured buttermilk in a stainless steel pan. Or at least, I hope it's cultured buttermilk - I used Amul's probiotic variety. Once it had gently heated to room temperature, I added 1/8th of a rennet tablet dissolved in 2 tbsp water (I know, it's hard to break a tablet in 1/8 but I did it anyway).

Let it rest overnight, then poured the now set curds into a cheescloth resting on a strainer. Tied it up and let it drain all day, and the result was the creamy block of cheese you see up there. I've mixed in a pinch of salt and it tastes great on toast but other ideas to use it up are totally welcome.

12 comments:

Shaheen said...

I can't wait to make my own cheese! This looks like an awesome first attempt!

poonam,,, said...

nice!! i didnt even know it was possible to make cheese at home until recently. and as ignorant as i am i dint know what rennet was..

FoodZone said...

I din't know either that cheese could be made at home. Do you have the recipe for mascarpone? love that cheese.

J said...

I have only ventured into paneer making at home.. am inspired to try some other now

poonam,,, said...

@FoodZone mascarpone is really easy,,we made it for a DB challenge a few months bac,,

FoodZone said...

Thanks for the mascarpone recipe. Will surely give it a try and let you know how it goes!

RV said...

I haven't made cheese so far. This looks incredible

PJ said...

i have been curious about cheese-making process but never ventured doing it myself. glad you found the rennet!

Lawyer Loves Lunch said...

Holy Batman, so cool! I'm such a cheese wimp, I even made ras malai from store bought ricotta cheese. Alas, maybe one day :)

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

I've been meaning to make cheese since so long, haven't got myself a thermometer yet :(

gopika said...

hi as this is a rather old post. did you have any luck in sourcing rennet in india?

Simran said...

Hi Gopika! I could not find rennet in India so I ended up buying it on a trip to US. The good thing is that the rennet tablets last forever in the fridge so if you can convince anyone coming in from UK or Europe to get some, that should last you a few years.