Blessed are the cheese makers

I’m preparing for the digital meltdown. The irony of posting this article, written on an iPad, on my blog is not lost on me. Nevertheless, I have this fascination with bygone eras, especially the ones where traditional skills like carpentry, navigation, and cheese making were common, and where you knew a blacksmith, a cobbler, and a seamstress. In my mind, that place is much calmer than the present, although I know that’s probably not true. Partly in an effort to reclaim lost skills, partly to delight in making fresh cheese, and probably partly as procrastination, a couple of friends and I have been learning how to make cheese.

We started last year with ricotta. It’s so easy. Heat milk. Add vinegar. Stir. Strain through cheese cloth. Voila! Ricotta.

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Today we made haloumi. It’s less easy. Heat milk to 34 degrees. Add rennet. Sit in a water bath at 34 degrees for 45 minutes. Cut into cubes. Increase water temperature to 40 degrees. Strain through cheese cloth. Apply pressure. Let sit for half an hour. Chop into large pieces. Poach in whey for half an hour. Remove and cool. Salt. Leave for 2 more hours. Let sit in brine for 24 hours. A little bit more work, but still, voila!

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If there is ever a digital meltdown and life as we know it falls apart, at least we’ll have cheese.

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