By night I inhabit the glamorous, fast-paced world of food blogging, but by day I’m just an ordinary cheese maker. Ok, ordinary isn’t an accurate word, because making cheese for a living is actually pretty cool. I get tons of questions, but perhaps the thing that people are most interested in is learning how to make cheese in their own kitchens.
Some of the basic cheeses (think ricotta, paneer, mozzarella) are really quite easy to make, and with the right equipment the home cook can easily make more involved cheeses like cheddar, Camembert, or Gouda.
Cheese making at its core is a science, and before you get started I highly recommend reading up on the topic. We have a mini-library of cheese making books at work, and I’ve done a fair amount of research myself. I’ve listed below some of what I believe to be the most helpful books for the home cook looking to branch out into cheese making.
American Farmstead Cheese, by Paul Kindsedt – this is one of the most well-written, informative books on cheese making that I’ve come across. It reads like a text book, and you should treat is as such. Take notes, highlight, go chapter-by-chapter. With input from the Vermont Cheese Council, Kindsedt’s book covers everything from the history of American cheese making to the chemistry behind the process, and (most importantly) troubleshooting when things go wrong. The only thing it doesn’t have is actual recipes; those you’ll have to find elsewhere (there are some books listed below with great recipes). Even though this book is geared more to those interested in setting up a commercial operation, I would consider a must-have for anyone interested in making cheese.
Home Cheese Making, by Ricki Carroll – the undeniable Queen of home cheese making brings us a book that is specifically designed for the hobbyist cheese maker. These recipes are designed for your kitchen, to be made with your pots and pans and as little specialty equipment as possible. Additionally, Carroll provides a source list for things like molds, cultures, kits, and further literature (many of which can be purchased through her company, New England Cheesemaking Supply). While not as scientifically thorough as American Farmstead Cheese, this book is perfect for beginners.
Cheese Primer, by Steven Jenkins – this book is the encyclopedia of cheese. Even though it was written in 1996, virtually all of the basic information still holds true today. You won’t learn much about how to actually make cheese, but you will learn a ton about the history of cheese and the myriad of different cheeses made throughout the world. This is the book you take with you to the cheese counter as a reference. No more confusion as to what valencay is, and you can wow your friends by pointing out that there is indeed a difference between brie and camembert (hint: its in the size). This book is the perfect gift for the cheese aficionado in the family, and it really does make for a great read.
The Cheesemaker’s Manual, by Margaret Peters-Morris – this is the recipe book. This is the book you consult when something goes wrong. This is the book that becomes so dog-eared and worn you end up duct-taping it back together. In short, this is a book that you need to have. This book is geared more towards folks looking to get into the cheese making business, but it is also an invaluable tool for the home cook. We use this book on an almost daily basis; you won’t regret this purchase.
I'm Matt. I love food. I love to grow it, cook it, eat it, learn about it, write about it, and talk about it. I believe that there are few things more important in life than what we put into our bodies. I believe food should be healthy for body, mind, and planet.
Once, while I was living in Ecuador, I ate some roast guinea pig from a street vendor. It was one of the best experiences and worst stomach aches of my life.