For the last few years I've been making a huge effort to remove processed and prepackaged foods from my diet. It has become increasingly important that I have the ability to control what goes in to the food my family eats, using local ingredients whenever possible, and ensuring we aren't consuming a ton of additives and artificial ingredients. I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen and online learning how to make commonly mass-produced foods from scratch and it amazes me just how much better they taste when I make them myself. As I discover more and more foods I could be making at home I add them to a list with the intention of tackling them as I have time. Recently I noticed my list had gotten a bit out of hand. I've been traveling more leaving me with less time to tick off these items, which is why I've decided to try and tackle a new project every month.
One of the projects that has been on my list for awhile now has been cheese making. I've been reading about the process off and on for years, but it always seemed so daunting and time consuming that I kept putting this project off. Recently I was sent an advance review copy of One-Hour Cheese by Claudia Lucerno and realized that I didn't need to keep putting it off. Even I can find an hour here or there to try a new project, especially when it happens to produce one of my favorite foods. Perhaps discovering this book was a bad thing, eating so much cheese can't possibly be good for my girlish figure, can it? Ah, but it sure tasted good and Claudia made the whole process sound so easy. She even went to the trouble of including a detailed troubleshooting section at the beginning of the book so I could read all about what could possibly go wrong and know in advance what steps I'd need to follow in order to come up with a solution. I love that sort of forethought!
The first few chapters of this book are dedicated to equipment, basic science, and troubleshooting. After that you jump right in to the one-hour cheese recipes starting with Meyer lemon ricotta. This happened to be one of the cheeses I was most interested in learning how to make since we tend to go through a fair amount of it in our house. The recipe detailed the necessary ingredients and supplies, it also included helpful tips, as well as variations and substitutions that can be made within the recipe. Fortunately I've got more kitchen gadgets than any one woman needs and I didn't need to specifically purchase anything for this project other than a few gallons of milk and some vegetarian rennet tablets (which aren't necessary for the ricotta, but many of the other recipes do require it.) If you have no idea what rennet tablets are or what they're use for, don't worry, I didn't have a clue either until I finished reading the first few chapters of the book. If you're wondering, they're a collection of enzymes which are used to coagulate milk and help separate the curds from the whey. As I've found out they're very important in making many types of cheese.
Now that I have one cheese making project accomplished I'm ready to continue on and try my hand at making my own mozzarella string cheese and ale-washed squeakies (aka cheese curds.) The recipes are only slightly more involved than making ricotta from scratch and the step by step photos included in the book detail the process, ensuring I'm on the right track as I progress through the various stages of the recipe. These step by step photos mean that even the first time cheese maker will be successful and if all else fails, the troubleshooting section will help you get back on track. If you've been interesting in tackling home made cheese yourself or know someone who might be interested, then this is a great book to help get you started.
Where to Purchase
This book was sent to me for review by Workman Publishing Company through NetGalley. As always, all opinions are my own.
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