Monday, November 8, 2010

Making Cheese at Home

Slow Food Waitakere organized a wonderful class to learn to make cheese (and more dairy delights) at home. The tutor was Natalie Carrand and the class was held at her family farm near Helensville. This means that you can use the milk straight from the cows! Raw milk is amazing, but it is still almost illegal in New Zealand. You can only buy it directly from some farmers, and no more that 5 litres each time. Natalie was surprised to hear the in Italy, where you can even buy from automatic distributors, people go home and then boil it... to death! I seen it, and I can understand my grandmother doing it all those years ago, and even my mother a few decades ago (hygiene standards where different then, and people only defense was pasteurization) but to boil raw milk now is to take away all those properties and vitamins that make it special. Well stored raw milk doesn't need to be boiled and I don't anyone who has died or got sick from well stored milk. And if it isn't well stored, milked hygienically or doesn't come from a healthy cow ... well, it should not be drunk in the first place! Anyway, enough about milk and lets talk cheese!

Natalie at work

The class run from 10am to 5pm, and we covered so many cheeses that it would take to long to list the all! But also yogurt, different types of yogurt in fact, and how to make them (and eat them!).

The first cheese we made was mascarpone, it has a process similar to panir, the cheese that I really wanted to learn to make on that day (I tried a few times but it was never too 'compact'. I am sure that next time I will make a great panir... I'll keep you posted!).

Making mascarpone and panir

One of the most popular cheese in the class was slipcote, possibly because it is so easy to make and can be flavoured with herbs and spices... or because it really suits Kiwis' taste!

Putting the slipcote curds into the moulds

Fresh slipcote with different herbs

Now, did I already mention that we were on the farm? I am sure I did, this was the best part for me, and in Natalie's farm you can buy raw milk, and even rent the kitchen to make cheese and butter... ah, the butter!!!!

Only in the Italian Alps I tasted butter like this! And in New Zealand cows eat green grass all year round, so the cream is really creamy and the butter really yellow. I will definitely post some more about making your own butter at home... when I get the time!

Making butter

The cheeses that took the longest to make on the day were Halloumi (with ricotta) and Feta.
To see how Halloumi and ricotta can be made at home you can click here (btw, this post had 1,345 visits since June 2010!), and for feta the process is similar, but you need to add cheese starter to the milk before adding the rennet (Natalie sells all these things, including vegetarian rennet, and utensils), and then you don't need to boil the feta pieces in the end, like for Halloumi.

Heating the milk

Adding the rennet (if making feta you need to add the starter too)

Cutting the curd

Students at work

The curds

Up to here Feta and Halloumi are almost the same... but feta stays in the box longer!

Making ricotta

Cooking the Halloumi

Salting the Halloumi
Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

If you live in the Auckland Area and like to do a class with Natalie her number is 027 2757 212.
If you like to lear more about Slow Food Waitakere please click here.


  1. Alessandra I am very envious of you doing this cheese making course. I have just recently begun making my own ricotta and mizithra (for which I presently have a post underway). Am really keen to progress to trying mascarpone and paneer, as well as haloumi. What a wonderful day you must have had on the farm :-)

  2. I look forward to your post then Sue, because I have no idea what mizithra is!


  3. Oh è bellissimo! Io adoro il formaggio, lo metterei ovunque, lo mangerei sempre.

  4. Peccato essere così lontane..verrei al volo!!!

  5. Si' e' stato bello, ma abbiamo lavorato dalle 10 alle 5.... per fortuna c'erano tanti formaggi da mangiare!

  6. What a great post! I joined a cheese-making group here, but unfortunately it fizzled out after just a few sessions.

  7. It takes time to make cheese....

  8. I'll be bold and ask: is there any way I can get the recipe for the slipcote cheese? It looks quite appealing. This sounds like a great class.

  9. Also, I wish I could buy raw milk: 5 liters would be great. Where I live, raw milk is illegal, period. So, I look at this post and dream.

  10. I'll have a look for the slipcote recipe Simona, but need to find it first, can't remember where I put my notes! Please be patient, in the meantime go and have a look at my hme made halloumi, you don't need raw milk for it (can't believe that it is illegal in California!!!)


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