Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Big Cheese Making

Cheese making is one of those scary sounding things.  Something that your great granny would have done in the olden days, is hard work and requires lots of specialised equipment. Despite this I've always fancied giving a go but never know where to start. So it was fortuitous that during Scottish Food Fortnight I saw a tweet about the launch of The Big Cheese Making Kit.  I checked out their website and placed an order for two kits costing £19 each.
The kits arrived in funky minimalistic packaging and contained everything you need bar milk and basic cooking equipment.  Boy has been watching cheese making on Wartime Farm and was especially keen to give it a go so we kicked of with the Ricotta which looked the easiest.  
The instruction leaflets are easy to follow and helpfully plasticised against spillages. The required 8 pints of milk initially seemed like a lot but it promised 2lbs of cheese.  You get a thermometer in the kit and don't require any additional fancy equipment. It was an exciting moment when the curds and whey began to separate as the temperature rose to the required 185F
Cheesy grin from boy
Curds and Whey - beating Miss Muffet at her own game
Makeshift wooden spoon draining contraption
The trickiest bit of the whole process was pouring the hot curds and whey into the colander. I managed to splash them everywhere!   On this occasion the whey went down the drain but I'm going to investigate what it can be used for in future as I feel somewhat guilty about wasting it.
2lbs of homemade ricotta cheese
So what to make with my glut of homemade cheese? First off I did a variation on Spanakopita. No real recipe for this just a bucket chemistry mix of spinach, ricotta, nutmeg, eggs and salt and pepper encased in filo pastry.
Next something sweet. I found the recipe for Lemon and Ricotta Cake on The Big Cheese Making Kit website and it is an amazingly good cake.  Very moist and deliciously lemony.  I'll definitely be making it again.  It didn't even survive a full 24 hours in the foodie quine household.
The last of the ricotta was destined for Spinach, Ricotta and Smoked Salmon Ravioli. This was my first attempt at making ravioli following on from my recent first attempt at pasta.  It was a wee bit fiddly but surprisingly satisfying and really tasty.  Bucket chemistry again on the filling - defrosted frozen spinach, ricotta, smoked salmon, ground nutmeg and plenty of salt and pepper.
Ravioli production line
short changed on salmon in this one!
My first attempt at cheesemaking was a huge success and I'm really looking forward to trying out the Mozzarella and Goats Cheese variations and making more Ricotta. According to the blurb I can make a further 33lbs. That's a lot of cheese.

I'll leave you with a quote from the tips section of the instructions. "If you think things are going wrong, keep going! Chances are it will all work out in the end." An excellent adage for life - not just cheesemaking.

3 comments :

  1. Oh this is great. You certainly put the ricotta to good use! I made mozzarella today and it was brilliant. Ricotta next - the cake looks fab..

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  2. I've always considered these kits with a touch of skepticism, but based on that spinach filo tart alone I'm in!

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    1. Do let me know how you get on if you give it a go. Good Luck!

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