A cheesy birthday present

The second of January may be the worst possible day to have a birthday. Mr Snail, however, does his utmost to ensure that I have a good day and this year was no exception… a lovely lunch at The Harbourmaster and then an evening at home with a glass or two of something sparkling.

Although we don’t do presents for Christmas/Yule/Chanukah, we do give each other birthday gifts. This year I asked for a cheese-making kit. I thought it might be a fun skill to acquire and it is something that I have never tried before. Proper cheese, especially the hard stuff, has relatively little lactose in it and so I am able to eat it in moderation.

Cheese-making kit

Cheese-making kit

So, today I have been playing with milk. My first attempt is a soft cheese as this is quicker than a hard cheese and is easier to make in small quantities… I decided that starting with a recipe that requires 6 litres of milk was just too ambitious! There has been heating of milk and subdividing the ‘starter’… there has been a water bath, rennet, lots of sterilising (using boiling water so as not to taint the cheese with chemicals) and quite a bit of mess. I didn’t manage to achieve the cubes of curds described in the recipe, but I have finally got three molds filled with curds so that the whey can drain off. The next step (in about an hour) is slipping the developing  cheese out of the molds and turning it… that sounds like something that could go horribly wrong! Anyway, here is progress so far:

 

By tomorrow I may have three small soft cheeses … or I may just have a pile of curds and a bowl of whey… only time will tell. Anyway, thank you to Mr Snail for buying me such an interesting birthday present… I’ve never wanted perfume and flowers and it’s a good job he understands this!

Now, I’d better work out what I can use all this whey for.

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28 Comments

  1. What briilliant fun! My London childhood was punctuated by regular cheese-making – soft curd cheese only – because in those far-off fridge-free days, sour milk was a regular occurrence and throwing it away was unthinkable. I hope you’ll tell us all how the project develops.

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  2. sarahfoto

     /  January 3, 2015

    Fantastic present! Looking forward to seeing the results. I’m not sure I dreamt this but I think someone said whey is really good for the body and that someone was soaking the hen food in it. My husband sometimes makes Paneer, very easy and very nice to fry instead of meat.

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  3. Happy Belated Birthday!

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  4. They whey is really good used instead of water in bread making……
    And Happy Birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Happy Birthday Ms Snail! I fear you have it wrong by the way. December 25th is the most awful, bad luck rubbish day to have your birthday. Ask my friend and don’t even MENTION combined gifts 😉

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  6. Use fresh whey anywhere in the kitchen that you’d use water. Breadmaking, cooking pasta or rice, soup bases … you get the idea. One word of warning, if you give it to the dog in any quantity (who will love you for it if you do) be prepared for erm… explosive results.

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  7. Happy Birthday belatedly… I agree that January and December birthdays are both fairly pants, but they seem to run in the family for both of us… My sister in Dorrigo makes cheese on a regular basis (ie, once a week) and she’d tell you that practice makes perfect. Her first attempts were dreadful, but now her cheese is definitely eatable and tasty. One word of advice if you progress to something more interesting than curd cheese; don’t wrap the cheese in greaseproof paper. It sticks. Use muslin instead. And the Girls will love a bit of whey, full of protein.

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  8. When I first started making cheese I downloaded a huge list of uses for whey. It included recipes for making whey wine and whey beer. Now isn’t that something that could put you off alcohol for life?

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  9. Huge Penblwydd Hapus wishes, though a little late. It sounds like you’ve had an interesting day with what might be a very successful day to come. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you. Jon couldn’t have chosen a better gift.
    Have a wonderful evening.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

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  10. Happy Belated Birthday. I always gave the bigger gifts for birthdays than for Christmas. I love the idea of the gift of something to do, or learn, not something to dust or find a home for. If I could just convince my son of that. I have learned more from this post about cheese and whey than anywhere else. My son kept trying to get me to drink whey protein shakes. I couldn’t digest it. I’m lactose intolerant and have found age cheeses the only kind my body will handle kindly. Thank all of you for the information. Sometimes the comments are as informative as the post.:)

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  11. Whey is really great in biscuits, which I think you call something else–makes them light and fluffy the way buttermilk would. Scones, but not really scones…Good luck with the cheese. I’ve only gone so far as yogurt making…

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  12. What an awesome present…that looks like so much fun! 😀

    Happy Birthday!!!

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  13. Good luck with your cheese making! Can’t wait to see the photos of the final product.

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  14. Belated Happy Birthday Wishes. What a great gift and a great way to start a new year with such an exciting challenge. Fingers crossed!

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  15. Now, that’s a cool birthday present! I’ve read that making mozzarella is not too hard and was intrigued but have never gotten past that stage. Does your kit come with instructions for different kinds of cheeses? Just think–the possibilities are almost endless!

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  16. What fun! Looking forward to seeing and hearing about the result…. and of course belated birthday wishes!

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  17. I hope you keep having fun with your present, Jan – it’s so much a ‘you’ gift, isn’t it? 🙂

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  18. What a great gift from a lovely guy! ❤

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  19. A belated happy birthday…..I agree, a not long after Christmas birthday is not always fun. Your gift is wonderful though, I like practical do-something-with gifts too. Look forward to hearing more of your cheese making adventures,

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    • The trouble with 2 January is that it is exactly the day when everyone is switching off from celebrations – no one wants to party, and many people are beginning a diet. When I still worked in an office I stopped taking in cake or biscuits for my birthday because having them rejected was just too depressing!
      These days, however, Mr Snail makes sure I have a good day and this year I’m hoping to repay him in cheese!!

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