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Starter culture added.
Careful temperature control
needed from this point
So, beer 'n' cheese. It's fab. I love cheese nearly as much as beer, or perhaps if I were pushed on the subject it'd be difficult to choose.

Anyhow, the other day I had this daft idea that I'd have a bash at making some cheese. You folks might while your Saturdays away making home-brew beer. As I mess with that sort of stuff during the week, I thought I'd have a bash at some food to go with the beer. Anyway, milk is cheap these days, didn't you know?

Curds and whey
So I bought a cheese making kit from some on-line place. It came with a press, rennet, starter containing relevant bacteria, cheese cloth and some other necessary goodies. Just add a big pan and some milk and you're away.

Now, interesting trouble occurred; good hard cheese needs full cream non-homogenised milk1. After a trip last night though to the metropolis that goes by the name of Barrow-in-Furness, and a hurried visit to Pizza Hut2 to pacify my not-so-little kids and Ann, we traipsed around the supermarkets. We found, amongst the oceans of ridiculously low-cost milk, 7 litres of Jersey Gold Top in Tesco. Asda? Nada. Morrison's? Not open late. I was looking for 10 litres. Turns out this type of milk is a quid a litre or more3 and not so easy to get on a Friday night.

Starting to look OK
Anyhow, today I set to at my very first attempt. A cheddar clone, nothing exciting, but it's a start. That 7 litres did quite well, and probably will make best part of 1kg of cheese, once it is properly pressed and matured. Only a month to wait, but already I'm planning my next experiment.

Break up to salt
Beer-washed cheese anyone?

Anyhow, not much of a beer-related post, but it was fun, I hope someone finds this interesting. If nowt else, it's an excuse for me to collate the pictures somewhere sensible.


Adding curds to mould for pressing
1Most milk these days is homogenised, and so the cream is distributed throughout the milk rather than floating on top, like it used to in the olden-days. Today they squirt it through tiny holes, as best I can work out, to make the fat globules smaller and the milk take on a more "creamy" texture. So, most milk in supermarkets is homogenised, and what smooth-flow is to beer I guess.

2Sorry, yes I know, I feel ashamed.

Not much left for me to do
3We do have a source of unpasteurised milk, which will make just the best cheese ever. However, I wanted to eliminate the uncertainty of farm or animal spoilage organisms before progressing to that stage. If this experiment works, I'll have a bash with the raw stuff.

I lived on a farm for a couple of years when I first left my parents tender care. We got unpasteurised milk fresh every day. It was delicious, really delicious. Just like sneaking a beer from the tank at the brewery, there is something really special about milk that has travelled only a few yards and had no messing done to it.

I do have a deep suspicion that the reasons for pasteurisation are much more to do with shelf life and commercial pressures than any real health risks. Never did me any harm. Some French cheese is made from unpasteurised milk and is simply gorgeous. I'm hoping to get to make something similar sometime.