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What would you like to see in a cheesemaking book?

 
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I’m creating a cheesemaking book focusing on small batch natural cheesemaking, so that people with a small herd of goats or a single house cow can learn to make small cheeses often, and to teach people without dairy animals how to make cheese without having to use huge quantities of milk.

One of the things I’ve struggled with other cheese books has been the minimum batch size, so I’ve been experimenting with making batches as small as possible, as well as making cheeses in less-than-ideal conditions to see how much different types of cheese can tolerate deviations from the recipes and less-than-ideal aging conditions, as in real life things happen and not many homesteaders can always be there every time to do each stage of the cheesemaking.

I am trying to create a book that is beginner-friendly and perfect for homesteaders, with plenty of information for more advanced cheesemakers too.

I am wondering, if you have read other cheesemaking books, what have you wanted to see more of? And what have you wanted to see less of? What processes would you like to see pictures of?

If you haven’t read other cheesemaking books, what would you like to find in one?

Anything else that you’d really like to see in a cheese book?
 
Kate Downham
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Draft cover of book, with some photos of lovely small batch goat cheeses
8x8-cheese-cover-no-lines-edited.jpg
[Thumbnail for 8x8-cheese-cover-no-lines-edited.jpg]
 
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Lovely cover, I like it a lot! And I like your question too, so here's my answer :-)

When doing something, there is usually a before, a during and an after. In the case of recipes:
First there is the prep -> easy, because what you'll be doing has been written down, so you know what you'll need
Then there is the doing -> cool, there is a recipe to follow
And the last step is the clean up -> the recipe is finished, the dishes go there, some things go in the compost maybe, maybe there is a snack for the cat, but hmmmm.. where do I go with byproducts?

So, what I would really like to see in a cheesemaking book, is a list of things you can do with byproducts.

First thing I think of is whey (I don't know about other byproducts, I am not familiar with cheesemaking..)
When I searched for what you can do with whey, I mostly find very general information like
- use it to cook your pasta
- give it to your chickens, they will eat it and they love it
- use it in pastries
- add it to your smoothies
- ...

But it never really explains the 'how'.

Do I give it to the chickens in a bowl so that they can drink it? Why do I read everywhere that chickens love 'eating' whey? What I have is a fluid, I am confused! And, is there a specific recipe for a pie in which you could use whey? How much whey do I put in my smoothie? But I have vinegar in my whey! Yuk!

Especially for beginners like me, this information would be great, I think.

It doesn't necessarily have to be food related either. I am for instance currently experimenting with using whey instead of linseed oil on an earth floor (I should start a seperate thread for that, it is CRAZY interesting!).
So, maybe there are other things one can do with whey?
What about other kinds of by-products when making cheese, if there are any?

I hope my answer somehow inspires you!

Good luck with the book!
 
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Although the word natural is in the title, I would like to encounter the viability of substitutes/alternatives. To let my brain wander:  cow milk, goat milk, sheep milk, evaporated canned milk, whole milk, skimmed milk, powdered milk, etc.   A brief comment saying it is doable or not would be great.  This goes for other ingredients/processes as well.
 
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I'd like a lot of IF-THEN explorations and heuristics rather than specific recipes.

Maybe start with a basic process that will produce a cheese. IF you use mesophilic culture, THIS will happen, but IF you use thermophilic culture THIS will happen. IF you eat it right now, it will be like THIS, but if you age it at these various time/temps it will be like THIS. IF you brine that cheese, you'll get THIS and if you wax it, it'll age like THIS. At this stage, it's normal to choose one of these three options and IF you do, you get THIS result (for each, and even for non-standard choices).
 
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I love your idea for the book and your interest in getting feedback from future readers! A know-it-all attitude (they don't) has, unfortunately, affected the quality of books that have come out before you.

Specifically, it would be helpful to have a troubleshooting section.
"Does your cheese taste moldy? Perhaps this is why..."
"Is your cheese too dry? Try this..."
Etc.

I wil buy your book  
 
John F Dean
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Hi Tarben,

Welcome to Permies.
 
Kate Downham
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klara stinders wrote:Lovely cover, I like it a lot! And I like your question too, so here's my answer :-)

When doing something, there is usually a before, a during and an after. In the case of recipes:
First there is the prep -> easy, because what you'll be doing has been written down, so you know what you'll need
Then there is the doing -> cool, there is a recipe to follow
And the last step is the clean up -> the recipe is finished, the dishes go there, some things go in the compost maybe, maybe there is a snack for the cat, but hmmmm.. where do I go with byproducts?

So, what I would really like to see in a cheesemaking book, is a list of things you can do with byproducts.

First thing I think of is whey (I don't know about other byproducts, I am not familiar with cheesemaking..)
When I searched for what you can do with whey, I mostly find very general information like
- use it to cook your pasta
- give it to your chickens, they will eat it and they love it
- use it in pastries
- add it to your smoothies
- ...

But it never really explains the 'how'.

Do I give it to the chickens in a bowl so that they can drink it? Why do I read everywhere that chickens love 'eating' whey? What I have is a fluid, I am confused! And, is there a specific recipe for a pie in which you could use whey? How much whey do I put in my smoothie? But I have vinegar in my whey! Yuk!

Especially for beginners like me, this information would be great, I think.

It doesn't necessarily have to be food related either. I am for instance currently experimenting with using whey instead of linseed oil on an earth floor (I should start a seperate thread for that, it is CRAZY interesting!).
So, maybe there are other things one can do with whey?
What about other kinds of by-products when making cheese, if there are any?

I hope my answer somehow inspires you!

Good luck with the book!



Thank you, that is really helpful feedback.

I do have a section on whey, and am sharing my gjetost obsession as a separate recipe, and will definitely go over my writing about how to feed whey to animals and plants to make sure it's 100% clear, as whey is such an excellent resource and I want to encourage others to make the most of it.
 
Kate Downham
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John F Dean wrote:Although the word natural is in the title, I would like to encounter the viability of substitutes/alternatives. To let my brain wander:  cow milk, goat milk, sheep milk, evaporated canned milk, whole milk, skimmed milk, powdered milk, etc.   A brief comment saying it is doable or not would be great.  This goes for other ingredients/processes as well.



There's a big section on milk choice and how it impacts cheesemaking, including what to look for when making different kinds of cheeses. I haven't thought to add anything about powdered or evaporated milk though.
 
Kate Downham
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Tarben Jørgensen wrote:I love your idea for the book and your interest in getting feedback from future readers! A know-it-all attitude (they don't) has, unfortunately, affected the quality of books that have come out before you.

Specifically, it would be helpful to have a troubleshooting section.
"Does your cheese taste moldy? Perhaps this is why..."
"Is your cheese too dry? Try this..."
Etc.

I wil buy your book  



There is a big troubleshooting section at the end of the book, I am trying to figure out whether to break it into sections and include them in the chapters about aging, cheese recipes, and so on, but in some ways also it is useful to have it at the back so that someone can quickly reference sections such as "Help, I left my cheese culturing on the bench for 3 hours and forgot all about it!" and other such things that happen.
 
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Hi Kate,
Congratulations on the Cheese idea,
Do you plan to have a section on how to make your own equipment?  Apologies if I missed it.
I think that the what if it goes wrong needs to be in the back of the book, under cheese styles.  The potential pitfalls needs to be an early chapter to alert the potential cheese maker so they can plan to avoid them.  The watch out for this, and fixing the going wrong to my of thinking are two separate parts/ chapters.

Put me down for a couple as gifts and one for me.  I am happy to do a review from the point of view of a complete novice.  If the Cheese turns out half as good as your sourdough, it will be fabulous.
Good luck
 
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This sounds like a great book.
I think information about how to use commercial milk in the recipes would be good so that those of us who aren't able to own our own milk producing animals can benefit from the small batch recipes as well.
I also second the idea of how to make your equipment.
Looking forward to seeing the outcome of the book.
 
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Sounds great,

I am interested in small voluem (1-2 goat) easy cheesese. Please consider some of us live in worm sub tropical climates.

Best luck

Shane
 
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As someone who has always wanted to make cheese but never had the opportunity, I don't have specific questions yet. But the book sounds amazing and I can't wait until it's available!
 
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I don’t have any experience with cheese making although I have a book on it. It seems so daunting of a task I haven’t dared try yet. I am excited to read more.
 
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Kate Downham wrote:

John F Dean wrote:Although the word natural is in the title, I would like to encounter the viability of substitutes/alternatives. To let my brain wander:  cow milk, goat milk, sheep milk, evaporated canned milk, whole milk, skimmed milk, powdered milk, etc.   A brief comment saying it is doable or not would be great.  This goes for other ingredients/processes as well.



There's a big section on milk choice and how it impacts cheesemaking, including what to look for when making different kinds of cheeses. I haven't thought to add anything about powdered or evaporated milk though.


Yes, this!!
In many places (like where I live) the only milk you can get is UHT (high-heat pasteurized, tetra pak). I tried unsuccessfully to make yogurt several times (and had many people tell me UHT was impossible for anything), only years later found a random blog explaining that in fact heating the milk to a certain temperature denatures the proteins and makes it 'yogurtable' again, and it worked a charm. These sort of tips are really helpful; I know some variations of milk simply don't work, but it was nice to find some useful information besides a simple "no you can't do anything with the only kind of milk you have access to".

 
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Shane and Christine,
Congratulations on your first posts and thank you for your contributions.
If you have not done it yet, please say hi in the introductions  https://permies.com/f/68/introductions
Looking forward to seeing more from you.
 
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This sounds like a great book, and I love the cover!  

I've had dairy goats for most of the last forty years, but it was a long time before I tried making cheese with their milk, because one lady we met along the way (may have been buying a goat from her, I can't remember) gave us a bit of her cheese to try, and not only did I not care for the flavor, it squeaked against my teeth.  Not coming from a family of cheese connoisseurs (I grew up on yellow cheddar -- good -- and Velveeta -- not good), I had no idea of the wonderful world of cheeses and all the possibilities out there.  Eventually, I got one of the extant books on cheesemaking and tried a few, had some success, found some favorites, and did some experimenting (mostly successful, to my surprise!).  

So, what would I like to see that hasn't already been mentioned?  Maybe directions on making a home cheese 'cave' for aging cheeses, because it doesn't work to age them in the kitchen frig with the rest of your perishable food.  (A mini-frig?)  How to make your own equipment would be good (I've bought presses, twice, and gotten rid of them twice when I thought I wasn't going to be milking anymore ever.  Now I have Nigerian Dwarfs, and a Jersey heifer).  Maybe a better way to make gjetost?  I like it as a once-in-a-while thing, but it takes forever to simmer the whey down to cheese.  Uses a lot of electricity.  I could see making it on a woodstove if you were running the stove anyway to heat the house.  But -- maybe a crockpot?

Are you going to include milk soap, or will this just be cheese?

Edited to add that I did some experimenting with using kefir as my starter culture, and liked the results very much.  I'd like to see recipes that use home-made kefir as the cheese starter culture.
 
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I was so happy to find a link to this thread in the Daily-ish! Having only a small herd of goats and small quantities of milk, I love this idea, Kate! The proposed title and cover are perfect.

Of cheesemaking books, I agree that large quantity recipes are a drawback, as is the use of purchased cultures, which are extremely popular right now. I want to make cheese without having to buy ingredients to make it (I had years of cheese fails trying to figure this out). My caveat being that I do have purchased dry rennet powder, but I would love to know how to make my own rennet, both animal and vegetable. People focus on thistle, but I don't have thistle growing and would love to learn what local plants I can forage or cultivate to use for rennet. Then, how do I make and use them?

On a personal note, my climate plus my permie lifestyle limits the kind of cheeses I can make. Our summers are very hot, so to make aged hard cheese, I'd need a cheese cave. I'm not off grid, but I don't have room for an electric cheese cave, so I've leaned more toward making Mediterranean and other warm climate cheeses. I'd love a book that had lots of off-grid cheesemaking recipes for warmer climates. (While I'm sure people in cooler climates would love to know how to make a natural "cheese cave"!) Maybe include a chart on the best ways to store various kinds of cheeses(?) I store some of mine in olive oil, and some, I've found I can store successfully in the freezer.

David Asher did a good job of introducing us to organisms that make good cheese, but I wonder about some of the molds I find growing on mine. I know some are useful for flavor, but others are bad. I'd love a reference chart (pictures?) to know which is which.

I've pretty much found good ways to utilize my whey, but it's always a question for beginners, so I think as many ideas as possible would be good to include.

Really looking forward to this one, Kate!
 
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Hi.

Living in a small apartment makes it very hard to make cheese. I heard you either need raw/pasteurized milk (UHT won´t do, which is the cheap one I find in supermarkets), or you need to add a supplement (rennet?) The process is somewhat messy, so I understand that making big batches pays for itself. But then I don't have a good place for drying and maturing the final pieces.

However I do cultivate keffir. And I wondered if there was a way to make cheese with this yoghourt. In part, I was wondering what I could do to prevent keffir fatigue (eating this yoghurt every other day can be taxing). Actually, you can make labneh, which is keffir drained from the whey, and it is very similar to cheese, except that it only lasts one month in the fridge, or up to three months in olive oil. The drainage is very similar to traditional cheese. Draining for 8 hours gives a spreading labneh, good for spreading over toasts. Draining it for 2-3 days with a weight gives a solid piece that looks like fresh cheese.
It tastes a little like cammembert cheese, with a stronger flavour the more you mature it, until it is no longer palatable.

While it is no real cheese, it is a good substitute in my situation.

Oh, if I am lucky, the whey goes into a bread dough. Otherwise, to the pots.
 
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Gianaclis Caldwell has written excellent books here in the States. I have a lot of cheese books but I reach for hers over and over. Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking I believe is her most cheese-focused. Each recipe is written for 2- and 12-gallon batches, perfect for me and my small goat/big cow situation. They are organized enough for me to find specific information quickly. I attribute this virtue to her, since many of the books by the brilliant authors at Chelsea Green Publishing are long rambles with very little organization.

 
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Really nice proposed book cover. ~~But there is a lot of white. I might change one picture to have a more colorful selection. Perhaps a cheese with more spices in it, red pepper or more green herbs might be nice for the color factor. You could also add some annatto seed extract to make an orange cheese. You might also consider wrapping one of the cheeses in leaves (grape or chestnut are good) for color. Or maybe roll a cheese in charcoal. The Art of Natural Cheese Making by David Asher is a really good book on the subject. But we are of the opinion that his pictures are a little weak. We recommend you get the very best pictures you possibly can. All the information is what people use from the book, but the pictures are often why they buy the book.

One other thing you could consider. Some people like history. Maybe you could add a short history of cheese making. ---Whoever first thought of milking a cow/sheep/horse, and drinking it, took a bit of a jump of faith. Might be fun or interesting to write about. And then to take the next step and turn it into cheese was really something. Sort of a bit like soap making. How did that happen? Was somebody sacrificing animals and a bit of fat mixed with wood ash and it dripped down the alter and, wallah, soap?

Anyway, get the book done, do a good job, and we'll probably buy copies. Our cheese making students might like to have copies.

P.S. As for folks like Christine, for Pete's sake, make some cheese. It's not the least bit "daunting". What's the worst that can happen? If a batch doesn't work out, you have a nice bowl of cat or dog food. And you'll learn and do better the next time.
 
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I know you are writing this for people who have goats or cows, or able to get raw milk. Maybe put in also how to use milk from the store if possible. We have no place to get raw milk, and we don't have animals. But would love to learn how to make cheese.
 
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Shane Rendalls wrote:Sounds great,

I am interested in small voluem (1-2 goat) easy cheesese. Please consider some of us live in worm sub tropical climates.

Best luck

Shane



This is a great point! I typically only milk for a couple months after my kids wean, sharing with them, until they wean. So, I typically have fresh milk in much smaller quantities, like a quart at a time. Most cheese recipes we've encountered require a gallon or two. By the time I've saved up enough to make cheese, it's not at its freshest, because we're also using it for other things.
 
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I just asked John(hubby) what he'd like to see, since he's our resident cheese maker. We're in the USA, at the southern end of the Midwest. Our winters are sometimes very harsh - but our summers (aka when I'm most likely to be milking) are often in the high 90°s - low 100°s (F). Those high temps make for a real challenge to curing cheese. He'd *like* to see detailed plans for a during cabinet or box. I'd be perfectly happy (and frankly, so would he) with effective work-arounds, to achieve something in that vein. We have a tiny refrigerator and a probe style thermostat and setup that was supposed to work, but... it didn't.
 
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Hi Kate!  Sounds like another great book project.  I would have loved to have your book when I was learning to make cheese.

After 10 continuous years goat keeping and milking, I am currently goatless.  Your new book might be going to make me a goat herder again!

One thing I remember early on was my difficulties  over times and temperatures.  I finally asked myself if those ancient cheese originators had clocks and thermometers, and figured they didn’t.  I think ranges of temperatures and times would be helpful, and if possible what the trade offs are.

There’s always an exact size to cut the curd, but what if you don’t get all the same sizes, is it worth the worry, the extra effort to accomplish uniformity?  Again what happens if you don’t….

Etc. Etc etc.  Guidelines and trends and trade offs would have helped me a lot!

Types of commercially available cultures.  That was confusing too.  There’s one called M100 (I think).  It gives a buttery fragrance that is heavenly, but doesn’t make enough acid to use on its own.  There’s thermophilic and mesophilic, no idea what they are, just what temperature they work at.

And if a person wants to use grocery store products as cultures, how to tell if they’re live .  I started with a great chèvre method that used live commercial buttermilk as culture.  The flavor was magnificent.

Your off grid book had lots of variations on recipes.  I think that approach to cheese making would be wonderful, along with permission to name their cheeses what ever they want!

 
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Great Idea. I have been wanting to learn to make cheese for a long time now. I would also like to see sheep cheese as it is our favorite.  Also how do you add flavors into the cheese like garlic, onion or caraway seeds or other seeds?  Again with the whey. What are the constituent parts to whey?  I love the idea of small batch and quick is important. What is aging? And how do you do it?  Maybe a section on how to find goat milk, sheep milk and raw cows milk.  Explain the difference between K1 and K2 milks.
Look forward to the book. Let me know when it is out.  I am at: earthsun51@gmail.com



 
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Coming over here right from this thread: https://permies.com/t/54553/whey, combined with my *ahem* frugality and not wanting to waste, I would love to see cheese-making byproduct uses make it into the book (as several others have already mentioned). I also strongly agree with the comments on adding spices and/or herbs for varieties and for nice pictures that will help sell your book and inspire us to make more cheeses. Your book is going to be great no matter what direction you go with it!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Another thought I had -- is there a way to use the InstantPot for at least part of the cheesemaking process?  I use mine with great success for making yogurt (the only GOOD homemade yogurt I've ever managed).  

And best ways to clean the muslin cheesecloths?

Something like an InstantPot with settings for different kinds of cheese would be a great idea.
 
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A part of discussions and instructions for cheesemaking that I actually get a little frustrated by is the significant difference between the end results of acid coagulated "cheese" and cultured cheese from a traditional foods, technical, and nutritional perspective. I'm being a stickler here I know, but acid doesn't cause the lactose to transform into cheese, it's more of an appearance change to milk. So when people make quick mozzarella for example, it's not going to have the same nutritional availability of a traditional Italian mozzarella, which is a cultured cheese (with the amazing flavor and short shelf life that goes along with that process).

Many of these kinds of "cheeses" are made for convenience and shelf life - nothing inherently wrong with that, I know people have to use what is available to them. But I do wish more people understood that a true cultured cheese behaves very differently, both as it develops and ripens and as it is tasted and digested than just the acid coagulated stuff. Most of the fresh "mutz" in my area is a pallid and insipid shadow of "real" cultured mozz. I see a lot of online recipes teaching people to make "cheese" this way (which, fine) but without explaining the difference between that and "real" cheese.  So the stickler in me would love to see that clearly articulated in a cheesemaking book, which I think would benefit both neophytes and the more experienced.

Another thing I'd like to see is a micro cheesemaking set up. I know a lot of people are either in small kitchens or downsizing and minimizing gear and space these days and it would be nice to see what a minimal set up looks like. I had a boss that made test batches of (incredible, lush bloomy rind Springtime cheese) for a 3 Michelin star restaurant in his Manhattan apartment so I know first hand it can be done in tight quarters.

Finally, I would love to see a chapter on affinage and the way cheese can be best treated while it is aging, or how it can be inoculated with wild or "encouraged" molds and things to become even more unique to its specific location. Handling cheese after it has been made can be as crucial as how it is made in the first place and I'd love to see that taught more broadly.
 
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In any "how to" book, I want the same thing.  Every detail explained.  I don't like it when people use a term I don't understand and then don't explain exactly what it means.  Please don't tell me to "render" or "parboil" something.  I understand that specificity is important, but at least tell me what that means so I don't have to google it just to continue reading the book.  If I'm reading a book like this and get to a part that I don't understand, there is a very good chance I'll just put the book down and never attempt to do whatever it is I was reading about.   Lots of pictures help as well.  

I'd also like to add, this is something I would buy and would very much like to read.  
 
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This looks like a resource I won't want to pass up.

A post by Paul Fookes earlier mentioned something along these lines, but I'll put it in my own words:  When I am tiptoeing into new area of DIY, especially with foods I intend to eat, I feel so much more confident when there is additional information about how things can go wrong and what are the consequences/severity of different outcomes.

Is it too soon to tell when the book will be ready?  It sounds like an excellent addition to my DIY toolkit.  I will have access to fresh milk soon.

P.S.
There is a strange rumor going around my overseas community-- that the producers of fresh market cheese (large but not industrial businesses, I believe) are somehow using fertilizer as an ingredient in their cheeses.  Rumors can blossom in interesting ways and I don't know enough about cheesemaking to know how to chalk up the rumor.  Any thoughts or info on what might be behind such an idea?  Total nonsense? distorted understanding of a normal process? or actually whistleblowing on something that could be done nefariously for convenience?  I think it could be a case of the wrong person witnessing and greatly misunderstanding something normal in cheesemaking, but I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts/insights here.
 
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The only think I can think of is that whey, a byproduct of cheesemaking, has been used as fertilizer (but not, as far as I know, on anything but a backyard scale).  
 
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Hannah Johnson wrote:
P.S.
There is a strange rumor going around my overseas community-- that the producers of fresh market cheese (large but not industrial businesses, I believe) are somehow using fertilizer as an ingredient in their cheeses.  Rumors can blossom in interesting ways and I don't know enough about cheesemaking to know how to chalk up the rumor.  Any thoughts or info on what might be behind such an idea?  Total nonsense? distorted understanding of a normal process? or actually whistleblowing on something that could be done nefariously for convenience?  I think it could be a case of the wrong person witnessing and greatly misunderstanding something normal in cheesemaking, but I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts/insights here.



That doesn't make sense to me. The only thing I can imagine, which I think is a stretch, is that an emulsifier was used in something and the "sodium phosphate" or"potassium phosphate" was thought to be an agricultural version. But there aren't a lot of additives that would make sense to cheat by using something "off book" that I can think of.
 
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I'm a strange cheese hater. I have a narrow selection of cheeses (mostly cow) that I will eat, and only do so in smallish quantities. I'm unlikely to make my own, without livestock, I'd have to walk past a wide selection of cheeses at the store to get the raw ingredients!!
However, nobody has mentioned butter. Would butter (cultured or not) fit in a book on cheese? as an alternative? or something to do if conditions were somehow not right for cheeses? (heat, humidity, wrong quantities, milk on sale...)

Also, regarding scaling recipes, a proportional approach perhaps? Something like the recipes totaling 100 grams/percentage, i.e.: 70 grams milk, 10 grams salt, 10 grams rennet, 5 grams vinegar, 5 grams herbs. Then you could easily do the math to use up your random quantity of milk completely. Yield of the recipe could be listed for just the 100 grams, or how many grams of the recipe would make a standard amount, i.e. 950 grams will yield 454 grams (one pound) of finished cheese. A primer on proportions would be useful to include, for the math(s) averse.

Regarding quantities, can milk or it's components be frozen (removing the whey for example), and later turned into cheese, once "enough" had accumulated? Would freezing be an option for a whole recipe or only a certain portion tolerated?
 
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Kate Downham wrote:There's a big section on milk choice and how it impacts cheesemaking, including what to look for when making different kinds of cheeses. I haven't thought to add anything about powdered or evaporated milk though.



Thoughts off the top of my head, as I am looking for the book that you are writing!

One thing I love about Sandor Katz's books is that he's conceptual and has a kind of "wing it" approach to things that makes me more likely to try something than a very rigid recipe will. That's especially important if one is dealing with whatever one has on hand, which could be a little or a lot of fresh milk from your goats or a food pantry, the stock of powdered milk in long-term food storage, etc. So I'd say a conceptual, even inventive approach would be most helpful. What I most appreciate in a book about food preservation is being able to understand the "why" of it enough that I'll say to myself, "I could do that!" So many of the cheesemaking books just bewilder you with chemistry and difficult recipes. I do better with simple recipes that encourage me to experiment and help me understand both my successes and my failures.

Every week I go by the food pantry, where they put out fresh, just-past-the-SBD fruits, vegetables, and dairy products culled from the local grocery stores for people to pick up with the primary goal of keeping it out of the landfill. So much of the food is stuff that has to be dealt with immediately or it goes bad, and a lot of people who might benefit from having that food either don't have access to what they need to prepare it (e.g., the homeless) or don't have the skills to deal with it. One week I might have a huge sink full of bruised apples, the next 18 packages of blueberries, the next scads of packages of those pricey soft cheeses, etc. I just made a country wine must from 12 cantaloupes that on the outside looked way too old to eat but, on the inside, were just fine. Last week I got four gallons of milk, which I promptly made into yogurt, then strained it. Now I'm wondering how I might preserve all that yogurt cheese for longer-term use...so I'd definitely turn to your book for help with that!

I've also thrown a lot of brie and camembert, still in their packages, straight into the freezer because I just couldn't deal with it or eat it all. I know I can feed it to my chickens, but I'm curious to know what else I might do with it, if it can be reworked somehow, maybe creative ways to use it that are not necessarily baking it into casseroles. This is ranging outside of what you're writing about, I know, but maybe you could include chapters or someting in an appendix on "What to do when you have too much" and "Is it really bad?"

I know that whey is very useful in the garden and to cut down smells in the chicken coop. I'm sure you'll be addressing that in your whey chapter. A number of YouTube videos show how to use "Lacto" (essentially the whey) for cleaning and other purposes.

I don't know if it would apply to your book, but a "parts" approach (like one follows when making a soil mix or hypertufa) is super helpful to me. "Mix 1 part X with 4 parts Y" is something I can manage no matter how much or how little of something I have. Even a child can understand it...and, yes, I process things like a child does.



 
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Mercy Pergande wrote:

Hannah Johnson wrote:
P.S.
There is a strange rumor going around my overseas community-- that the producers of fresh market cheese (large but not industrial businesses, I believe) are somehow using fertilizer as an ingredient in their cheeses.  Rumors can blossom in interesting ways and I don't know enough about cheesemaking to know how to chalk up the rumor.  Any thoughts or info on what might be behind such an idea?  Total nonsense? distorted understanding of a normal process? or actually whistleblowing on something that could be done nefariously for convenience?  I think it could be a case of the wrong person witnessing and greatly misunderstanding something normal in cheesemaking, but I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts/insights here.



That doesn't make sense to me. The only thing I can imagine, which I think is a stretch, is that an emulsifier was used in something and the "sodium phosphate" or"potassium phosphate" was thought to be an agricultural version. But there aren't a lot of additives that would make sense to cheat by using something "off book" that I can think of.



I guess it depends how likely they are to use an emulsifier.  If they do, then that's exactly the type of explanation that works where I'm at.  All it takes is for a semi-literate farmer to be hired with his cattle truck to drive some supplies out to one of the deeply isolated cities renowned for its cheese (hiring random guys with trucks is super typical).  Say the supplies include a sack of potassium phosphate.  The driver thinks he recognizes the chemical name on the sacks.  Casually asks the person he's delivering it to what they use fertilizer for at a cheese plant?  The person who responds is like, "Oh, this isn't fertilizer, it's an ingredient for the cheese." But the truck driver hears what he wants to hear, knows what he saw written on the sack, and goes away to spread the rumor.

[speculation alert!] Another version is that riding in the cab with the truck owner is the owner/operator of the cheese company who 1) wants to keep that ingredient "secret" and lies about it, thus starting the rumor, 2) is actually attempting to use an industrial fertilizer as a shortcut and brags about how it's technically safe because his brother in law heard it from a student at an agricultural university.  [speculation alert!]
 
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:Another thought I had -- is there a way to use the InstantPot for at least part of the cheesemaking process?  I use mine with great success for making yogurt (the only GOOD homemade yogurt I've ever managed).  

And best ways to clean the muslin cheesecloths?

Something like an InstantPot with settings for different kinds of cheese would be a great idea.



Oh, yes. This would be very helpful. I bought an Instant Pot Max to try canning, and it works fantastically for both water-bath and pressure canning. (Look up Rose Red Homestead's video on testing the Instant Pot Max for pressure canning.) I just made two large batches of yogurt in it starting with ultra-pasteurized milk from the food pantry, then stirring in some plain Greek yogurt (also from the pantry), and it worked great! So now I'm off to research what I need to do with the yogurt cheese to see if I can make a harder, longer-lasting cheese from it.
 
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