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