Knowing that most people love the taste of cheese, many supermarket owners have installed “cheese bars” for their customers. Cheeses vary from soft to hard, from sweet to tangy and all flavors in between. Some cheeses require weeks or months to age, while others will be ready to eat just hours after being made. Picking a favorite may take a while with all the different flavors and textures available.
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The Master Food Preservers of El Dorado County anticipate a full house for the free public education class on Basic Cheese Making, offered on Saturday, Aug. 27, and Tuesday, Sept. 6.
The MFP volunteers answer questions regarding cheese making and demonstrate how to prepare simple soft cheeses that need no special equipment to make. Most homemakers already have a double-boiler, stainless steel spoons or ladles, a thermometer that will measure from 20 to 220 degrees F, some cheesecloth and muslin, and can easily prepare the basic cheese recipes from the class using these items.
Proper sanitation and sterilization of utensils ensures a successful outcome if the cheese recipe is followed carefully. Stainless steel and glass instruments must be boiled in water for at least 5 minutes; wooden items for at least 20. Plastic equipment must be sterilized with a bleach solution (two tablespoons bleach per gallon of water) and rinsed thoroughly. All surfaces used when preparing the cheese should be kept clean and sanitized.
Soft cheese, with a mild and pleasant taste, yields well to flavoring. This simple recipe for yogurt cheese provides the basis for many different variations.
Pour one quart of yogurt at room temperature (72 degrees F) into a cheesecloth-lined colander. The cheesecloth should be of a very fine weave or use muslin. Tie the four corners of the cheesecloth and hang this bag to drain for 12 to 24 hours, or until the bag stops dripping. When it finishes dripping, place the cheese in a bowl. You may have to scrape some of the cheese from the cloth. Add a pinch of salt or herbs, if you wish. Store in the refrigerator.
Yield: 6 to 8 ounces of cheese. Source: MFP Files
The volunteers at the class will be happy to suggest additional ingredients to really jazz up the homemade cheese.
Questions about safe home food preservation? Call the Master Food Preservers and leave a message at 530-621-5506. A Master Food Preserver will return the call. The Master Food Preservers are also available free of charge to speak to organizations and clubs about food safety or food preservation topics. Just call the number above to arrange for a speaker for small or large groups.
For more information be sure to go to the Master Food Preserver Website at cecentralsierra.ucanr.org/Master_Food_Preservers/.