When you come home from a successful hunt, are you already thinking about how you’re going to prepare the meat? Generally speaking, you’ve got some decisions to make. What cuts of meat do you want? How much to grind? Do you plan to store it all in the freezer? Or are you going to preserve it using other methods: canning, smoking, fermenting, or dry curing?
To me, most of the good stuff with cheese happens during aging. Flavors are enhanced and deliciousness ensues. The problem for the home cheesemaker, however, is that instructions are usually far more detailed for the actual cheesemaking part of the recipe. It’s harder to come by in-depth instructions for aging your cheese. I’ve been making cheese for a few years now, and I want to share with you some things I’ve learned. Specifically, here are three things I wish I had known about aging cheese when I first started out.
It’s easy to feel like there’s not enough time for hobbies or to get the things done that you want to do. With responsibilities to uphold, jobs to go to, children to watch, relationships to nurture . . . that doesn’t always leave time for hobbies or interests. But I’m going to argue that it’s worth it to try to make the time. Hobbies help us to grow as people, and they add “life” to our lives.
Some of you visiting here probably have it all figured out. Maybe you’re masters of charcuterie or affinage or something else that’s equally amazing. Maybe you could blow me out of the water with your generations-old recipe for salami. But the rest of us? We’re learning as we go. I mean, we’ve got some skills in the bag, but maybe we want to learn something new that we haven’t ever done before. And to that, I say, allow yourself the grace to be a beginner.
There are plenty of reasons why people delve into DIY projects. We’re motivated by any number of reasons. Yet I believe that the “good” in DIY ventures goes beyond our motivation behind why we do them. I can’t clearly put into words the “why” behind my food-related DIY obsession. To be honest, I think that my desire to ferment sausages or make cheese or harvest wild yeast goes beyond a logical explanation. I could explain these things away by saying that my own versions taste better or are less expensive . . . but there’s more. I think it’s a soul thing. And I can’t touch that with words.
Summer is cheesemaking season. During the summer, the grass is green, and milk is plentiful. This makes for truly delicious cheese. If you’re using grocery store milk, there won’t be much seasonal difference in flavor, but nonetheless, I still prefer to think of summer as cheesemaking season.
Truth be told, I haven’t been doing as much cheesemaking as I would like this year, but it’s easy to fit in mozzarella.
Never made cheese before? Well, this is one that is approachable. I like to think of mozzarella as a gateway cheese to cheesemaking. It doesn’t take a ton of time (or equipment) to make, and it’s also a wonderful way to familiarize yourself with some cheesemaking techniques. Conveniently, it is also a fresh cheese, which means that it doesn’t need to be aged (no Cave required).
When I was little I read the book My Side of the Mountain. If you haven’t read it, it’s about a boy who survives on his own in the wilderness and displays amazing survival skills. He lives in a hollowed-out-tree, makes his own rabbit underwear, sets snares, makes acorn pancakes, and trains a peregrine falcon, as well as manages to do many other impressive acts of living off the land. It’s my furthest memory back of being inspired to Do All The Things myself. After reading this book, I can remember going into my back yard and pretending to harvest the “wheat” (aka grass gone to seed) that I would then pretend to grind and use to make my own bread.
My 3-year-old is a climber and a tumbler and a dare devil (just like her dad). Because she is so active and physical, we decided she should try out a gymnastics class. She had her first class last Friday, and I got to watch from the side-lines as she jumped and tumbled and somersaulted and climbed all over the gym. Every time she looked my way, she had the biggest smile on her face. She was full of joy and pride and excitement for what she was doing. She loved every minute of it.
When’s the last time you felt like that?