19 May 2014

Just Do It (Yourself): From the Annals of At-Home Cheesemaking

Making cheese can be enjoyable, cost-effective, and easy.   Just ask Charlie White, a close friend of FDM, who endeavored such a feat more than 7 years ago. During that year, notable for Barry Bonds' anointment as new home-run King (with asterisk) and Apple's unveiling of its first iPhone, White Farms' brought us its premiere batch of Parmigiana-Reggiano.  That fromage was reported to be, simultaneously, "semi-tart" and "semi-sweet" and was able to heighten the "senses" with its "complexity" and "rich nutiness".

Seven years and 4 iPhone versions later, following in the footsteps of White Farms for outstanding artisanal cheese production, Lee Street Dairy delighted FDM this week with its inaurgural fromage. Their cheese was a moderately sharp, delicious wheel of 7-month farmhouse white cheddar (see pictures- above/below, with with bread and crackers).

Lee Street's Paris Wallace and Kristen Lynch, amateur cheesemongers based out of Cambridge, MA, started with Ricki's Basic Cheesemaking Kit in October 2013. What makes this kit so useful is that it comes with everything you need: a basket mold, vegetable rennet, re-usable cheesecloth, the starter bacterial cultures, and recipes.  Farmhouse cheddar is just one of the eight different cheeses you can make with this kit-- Ricotta, Gouda, and Colby are other delights.   

Wallace and Lynch's wheel had the sharpness that you want in a cheddar, but was also appropriately dry and crumbly-- these features usually tend to separate "farmhouse cheddars" from traditional (firmer) cheddars. The difference in texture probably arises because farmhouse cheddars are made by hand and wrapped in cloth, allowing the cheese to "breathe" while ripening. Most traditional or commercially-produced cheddars are wrapped in plastic or wax after the cheddaring process, which prevents the cheese from aging further.

FDM looks forward to keeping up with Lee Street Dairy's future cheese endeavors; there are some rumors that an alpine (basement) cave at the Dairy is under construction.