Posted on December 14, 2016
The cheeseboard is an after-dinner highlight for many of us, which can liven-up many a buffet table, festive platter or dinner party.
And things have come a long way since the pineapple and cheddar cocktail stick hedgehogs that that were once a mainstay of the sophisticated seasonal soiree.
These days, we’re spoiled for choice - hard, soft or blue cheese; spiced, fruity or salty - but it all comes from the same basic components, which makes making your own achievable.
In its most basic form, cheesemaking is a relatively straightforward process which can be done in the kitchen with just a few everyday ingredients.
Start with some nice, warm milk, approximately 1.5 litres, the fresher the better.
If it’s been on the fridge, warm it slowly on the hob in a heavy-based saucepan until just before boiling point.
Once the milk reaches temperature, it will need to be acidified – this can be done using two tablespoons of either vinegar or lemon juice, to curdle the milk.
Remove from the heat and let the saucepan stand for around 15 minutes. The milk will separate into curds and whey during this time.
Allow the mixture to cool, before placing a large piece of muslin into a sieve or colander, over a large bowl. Pour in the mixture allow to strain. The more you strain it, the firmer it will get.
What you’ll have left in the muslin is a basic Ricotta-type cheese, which can be livened-up by mixing in herbs, fruit or spices to make an array of delicious dishes.
Our cheesemaking tutor, Paul Thomas, explains how to get perfect results every time here:
For a more detailed insight into the art – and science – of creating delicious artisan cheese, why not come along to our one-day introduction to cheesemaking course.
You will learn about the results you get from using different types of milk, the differences between lactic- and rennet-set cheeses and examine the role of cultures, their action, their flavouring and how they work with rennet, before getting the opportunity to make your own soft cheese, yoghurt and butter.