The Cottage Smallholder

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Making Your Own Cheese: How to Make All Kinds of Cheeses in Your Own Home by Paul Peacock. A review


Making Your Own Cheese by Paul Peacock

Making Your Own Cheese by Paul Peacock

This year is the year that I’m determined to start making my own cheese. Ever since I’ve watched the progress of Suzanne McMinn who writes the addictive Chickens In The Road blog describing her progress on the cheese making front, I’ve been curious and a bit envious of her endeavours. Last year her partner bought her a cow for her birthday.

Now let’s get things straight immediately, I do not want to actually own a cow and would be horrified if Danny led one up the drive on the next big birthday day. A cow is a massive commitment – all that milking and mooing and just one cow need more space than we have to offer. But I would like to make cheese and as Paul Peacock notes, cheese can be made from shop bought milk.

I’m not talking about simple cream cheese, I’d like to make Feta, Mozzarella, Cottage and Cheddar cheese. Even blue cheese. We eat a lot of cheese and it’s not extortionate bought from a shop but, come the revolution, it would be good to be able to make my own. And until then I reckoned that cheese making could be satisfying and fun.

So I was delighted when I was sent Paul Peacock’s book Making Your Own Cheese: How to Make All Kinds of Cheeses in Your Own Home to review  a few weeks before Christmas. At the time I was busy with producing hundreds of lavender birds but I couldn’t resist the occasional sneaky look at this book. It’s an excellent introduction to the art of cheesemaking and I’d imagine that experienced cheese makers would enjoy a sneaky look too.

This is a cracker of a book. Beautifully laid out and written. Peacock takes the reader through an overview of the types of cheese, milk and other ingredients and basic equipment. By the time that I reached this point in the book I felt confident to try my hand at cheesemaking.

A cheese press is an expensive piece of kit and could put a lot of people off having a go at developing their cheesemaking skills. Peacock points out that a fruit press can be just as good – we have a baby press that was included in the wine making lot that we won on Ebay all those years ago and I hadn’t even considered using that for cheese! He goes on to note that a G clamp or even strong bungees work very well too! So the initial set up need not be too expensive.

The cheese recipes in Making Your Own Cheese are designed for home cheesemaking. The 46 recipes produce cheese in the style of a broad range of famous cheeses such as Boursin, Cheddar, Gruyere and Roquefort. The milk used in the recipes is from cows, goats and sheep.

Some cheeses are very easy to make, such as cream and cottage cheese. Others are much more complicated needing months to mature but whatever the recipe the instructions are very clear. There is also a good section of cheese recipes to inspire the reader – such as lamb and feta cheese burgers and Indian cheese sweets to eat with ice cream. At the back of the book is the essential troubleshooting section – an absolute must for a new project.

The tone throughout is calm and conversational from someone who clearly is an experienced and inventive cheese maker. It’s good to find a writer that is happy to share his successes, failiures and secrets. If you are considering developing your cheese making skills and becoming a bit more self sufficient I thoroughly recommend this book.

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  1. I remember being scared out of cheesemaking for about a year after I borrowed a book from the library on how to make cheese. It seemed a complicated mess of waterbaths, temperatures, and equipment I didn´t have. Maybe, had I read the book you mention I would´ve started sooner. Now I make my own Paneer, and have made mozarella and Manchego (well I have moved back to Spain).

    I really recomend this page :

    It has everything about making cheese with no special equipment (his cheesepress is a PVC pipe, a large pot and a rubber band from an inner tube).

  2. Veronica

    Looks great! It seems surprisingly simple to make your own cheese. We helped a neighbour with it when we were in Navarra, and yes, she did have a cheese press, but other than that her equipment consisted of a galvanised bucket, a thermometer, some muslin, and a couple of cheese moulds.

    The (sheep’s milk) cheese was excellent after a few months maturing, and we made requesón (ricotta) with the whey.

  3. It seems a wonderful – and inspiring – idea! I never got further than making (actually quite often) my own curd cheese (a kind of drained and firmer cottage cheese) and, apart from the pleasure, its taste is 1000 times better than the one bought in the shop. I suppose living in the country gives you easier access to raw milk… The first time I made curd cheese with pasteurised milk I simply threw it away and now when I want to make it I travel quite far from where I live just to buy a single bottle of raw milk. I’m looking forward to read about your cheese making experience. Good luck!

  4. Just requested this book, not sure how long I will have to wait as it says 2 copies are on order. However, I am also tempted by some of his other books. Not that I am in a position to do anything about growing my own veg or keeping bees or hens but the book on how to store your own produce over the winter looked interesting.

  5. I too was intrigued to learn that Mozzarella is easy to make at home after reading that Barbara Kingsolver book, although I have not yet tried it. I’d like to make goats milk cream cheese though. I think I’ll put in a request at the library for this book.

  6. Another book for the wish list! (After the cookbook post I found The BallyMaloe Cookery Course for £9.99 in our local cheap book shop. I bought it as a gift for a friend, but it hasn’t quite made it into the present drawer yet…)

    Cheese making is on my list too (with quite a lot of other things) and we have an old Boots fruit/wine press in the roof that I’d completely forgotten about!

    After reading ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ by Barbara Kingsolver (which I highly recommend) I did have a go at Ricki Carroll’s 30 minute mozzarella which was great, but I don’t think I stretched it enough, so it tasted good, but the texture was a bit squeaky, like halloumi, and it didn’t melt on my pizza! I am going to try it again though, especially as I got ricotta as a by-product.

  7. Thank you Fiona, I’ve just added that to my wish list, even if i never make cheese (and I hope I will) it sounds a fascinating read.

  8. I have that book, bought from the man himself at his shop in the Last Drop Village, Bolton but haven’t got around to reading it yet. Must do that soon.

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