Face it, everyone gets tremendous satisfaction from accomplishing new things. Science even tells you it's good for your brain. Try your hand at something incredibly easy, though meticulous, and enjoy the bragging rights: make cheese. Yes, cheese! Right in your own kitchen.
The following recipe makes a very tasty feta cheese that freezes well. Although I have to admit I have yet to try freezing and defrosting this cheese first hand. My family can hardly stay out of the fridge when there's feta to be had!
You can use the horrible tasting goat milk they sell in the stores for this cheese. The best option is, of course, fresh goat milk from a local source. Fresh milk will hold up to make a firmer cheese, but use what you can get.
The best part about making cheese is the cheese. Of course! You can eat the results. What better hobby can there be than one that produces something so good so cheaply? (Have you priced a good goat cheese lately?!) So try this out and whip up a salad for dinner, or even a vegetable soup, and toss in your masterpiece.
A word of caution: Whey is acidic, so use stainless steel (or ceramic) pots and utensils unless you don't mind an aluminum or plastic aftertaste.
1 gallon whole goat milk
1 package mesophillic starter*
1/2 tsp liquid rennet* dilluted in 1/4 cup unchlorinated water
2 to 4 tbs cheese salt or Kosher canning salt
Heat milk to 86 degrees F (place pan in hot water in sink--works great for low temps like this or in double boiler with flame on low), add starter, stir gently for 1 minute, cover, let set undisturbed for 1 hour.
Add diluted rennet, gently stir for 3 minutes. Cover and allow to set at 86 degrees for 1 hour.
Cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Gently stir the curds for 20 minutes (to prevent premature matting).
Pour the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth. Tie the corners of the cloth and let hang and drip for 4 hours (over the sink or over a large bowl).
Untie the cheesecloth, remove cheese and cut into 1 inch slices, then 1 inch cubes. Salt to taste and mix gently. (It is a salty cheese so don't be shy!)
Place in a covered bowl and let age in the fridge for 4 to 6 days. It may be eaten fresh, but the flavor ripens as it ages.
If you get a mushy cheese, add 1/8 tsp. calcium chloride* diluted in 1/4 cup water (again, unchlorinated if possible) to milk just prior to making the cheese again.
*go to www.hoeggergoatsupply.com or to www.Lehmans.com or possibly a local health food store for supplies.