Making dairy products from scratch scares me. It really does, it freaks me out. Maybe something about the thought of curdled milk, or growing bacteria cultures... I dunno, but making dairy products is treading on a foreign, and very intimidating ground for me. It's nothing like baking a loaf of bread, or learning to make chicken stock from a carcass.
So how to get over the fear of homemade dairy?
Make cheese, of course! Nothing like diving in head first.
And honestly? It's really easy. I was scared for no good reason. (Really, if I hadn't had a seven year old saying "C'mon Mom, we can do it," I might not have attempted it.)
The process is simple. Heat milk (we used raw goat's milk) to 180 degrees, stirring constantly to prevent scalding.
Pour in 1/4 cup of vinegar, and stir til it curdles.
Then strain the whey from the curds, salt them, and tie them up to drain for awhile...
...before serving it to your exceptionally brave
And ya know what? They really liked it. My neighbor liked it too, I made him try it when he stopped by for a minute. My husband liked it too, says we need crackers to put it on. And me? Well..... I'm too afraid to try it. It goes back to that whole curdled milk thing. I'll try to get over that, but no guarantees.
And then there's the part about figuring out what to do with three quarts of whey... They say it's good to feed to your pets, or if you find anyone crazy enough to want to, it's really healthy for people to drink. The thought made me gag. Then I asked my husband what they used to do with their whey. His reply? "I like to drink it."
But anyway. I'm glad we gave it a shot. It's not hard, it's fairly cost effective, and it's better for my kids than the stuff we buy at the store they try to tell us is cheese. Will we replace our regular block cheddar entirely? Probably not. But we can probably cut back significantly on our consumption of it, and I'll chalk that up to a minor success.