Monday, 21 June 2010

Say Cheese!

I've never been keen on Spanish cheese, and the English and French cheeses I've bought in Spain never seem to have travelled well. Ho hum. And I've always been interested in the idea of trying to make my own cheese, but it looks pretty complicated, so I never did anything about it.

However, a couple of weeks ago, we had a Greek salad (at a Turkish restaurant - go figure). One of the essential components of a Greek salad is feta cheese, which I love, but I've only ever seen it in one shop in Madrid, at a higher price than I wanted to pay.

But it got me thinking. I looked up feta cheese recipes on the Interwebz, and it seemed fairly straightforward. I went to my local pharmacy and got some powdered rennet (cuajo, in Spanish), and my local Mercadona supermarket supplied some goat's milk. I was a bit worried, because supermarket milk is always highly sterilized / pastuerized / UHTd, and all the recipes say it's best to use fresh milk if you can.

Anyway, I followed the instructions as best I could, but I think I overheated the milk. Whatever the reason, I couldn't get a 'clean break' - it's hard to describe, but basically it's the point where the curds separate from the whey.

I left it overnight, but nothing much had changed, although it did taste like very good yoghurt. I poured it into a large plastic bottle and put it in the fridge, in the full expectation of having to eventually throw it away. But about five days later, my wife noticed some separation of curds and whey. We were travelling that afternoon, but before we went I poured the stuff into muslin cloths and hung them up over a pan, still not expecting much to happen, other than it making the apartment stinky.



But no! When we got back after four days, we had a pan full of whey, and two blobs of something that had the texture of a softish cheese. I cut the blobs into cubes and put them in a jar full of brine for a few days. And yesterday I tried a sample. It tasted just like feta cheese! There isn't a lot of it, and it's all going into a Greek salad tonight. I'd started off with three litres of milk, and finished up with about 250g of cheese, which makes it more expensive than the stuff I refused to buy from the shop, but the sense of accomplishment is indescribable.

I'll definitely try this one again.

6 comments:

nzm said...

Cool!

Stephanie said...

Hi-
I’m the editor of Expat Arrivals (http://www.expatarrivals.com) – a site devoted to developing comprehensive destination guides aimed at easing expats transition abroad. We have a fantastic Spain section, and I was wondering if you’d add our URL to your blog to supplement readers with the personal experiences you provide.

Furthermore, we’re constantly looking for contributors or even expats in a position to partake in unique interviews, would you be available for either? Thanks for your time and consideration.

Best-
Stephanie

Seabee said...

Do you have room on your balcony for a goat?

Keefieboy said...

Seabee: only a 2-dimensional one.

Dave said...

Well done Keefie. You are a patient and persistent man.

Keefieboy said...

@Stephanie, I sent you an email, but it bounced. Andswer is yes and yes.