Book Review: Six Cheesemaking Books

June 18, 2010

Wanting to expand from DIY cheesemaking kits, I checked out from the library some cheesemaking books.

The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley
This book tells you how to make fresh dairy products, such as butter, yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, and nine fresh cheeses. It has a short introduction, and then you are making stuff. I find it a bit odd in places, as one recipe for buttermilk is to add buttermilk to skim milk. Also, I didn’t trust the feta recipe because it did not make brine or age it at all. It does have 109 pages dedicated to cooking with your freshly made dairy products, along with a small glossary and a list of sources for cheese making supplies, classes, and useful links. The book has only a few drawings, and it was the other dairy products and recipes included that held my interest with this book.

And That’s How You Make Cheese! by Shane Sokol
It is a small book with black and white photos. It gives a short history of cheese before going over ingredients, supplies and equipment, basic steps, how to start a cheese culture, and then finally cheese making recipes: 23 soft, hard, and mold and bacteria ripened cheeses. The back of the book contains a few sources for cheesemaking supplies.

Making Great Cheese At Home by Barbara Ciletti
A book very similar to And That’s How You Make Cheese! It starts off with an expanded history before going into the basic process of cheesemaking, supplies needed, and starter cultures with troubleshooting advice. It includes diagrams on cheese presses before launching into the cheese making recipes, broken down by fresh, soft and semisoft cheeses, mold- and age-ripened cheeses, and age-ripened hard cheeses. It contains 30 cheese making recipes, 18 cheese dish recipes, and numerous color pictures. However, the end of the book is just a glossary. I prefer this book over And That’s How You Make Cheese!

Making Artisan Cheese: 50 Fine Cheeses that You Can Make in Your Own Kitchen by Tim Smith
This book probably has the best organization for new cheesemakers. It goes through the history of cheese and then cheese making basics including milk types and composition, and other supplies. The thing about this book is that when it gets to making the cheeses, it is broken down into basic cheese making, intermediate cheese making, and advanced cheese making. Smith talks about how to drain the curds by hanging the cheesecloth for basic cheesemaking, but then builds on that in the intermediate cheese making by talking about with molds and presses. So instead off bombarding you with information all at once, he starts off easy and builds on the information by difficulty. This book has pictures of equipment and the finished cheeses, but illustrations of the techniques used.  It does contain resources in the index, including legality by state of buying raw milk.

Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
An excellent cheese making book with 75 cheese making recipes. Skipping history of making cheese, it provides much more information on other topics, like the composition of different types of milk. It runs through different rennet, what chlorinated water does to rennet, how to make a starter cultures and troubleshooting, other ingredients needed, different types of equipment, how to make a cheese press, a homemade cheese record form, and a 15 step picture diagram of the cheesemaking process followed by a written description.  The cheese making recipes are then presented: soft, hard, Italian, Whey, Bacteria- and mold-ripened cheese, goat’s milk cheese, other dairy products. This last category covers everything found in The Home Creamery, plus a few extra like Devonshire clotted cream, though it only gives one recipe per item. The last part of the book is titled, “For the love of cheese – serving, enjoying, and cooking with cheese,” which is includes 40 pages of cooking recipes. In its appendixes there is a glossary of terms, a trouble shooting guide, resources, and other recommended cheese and cheesemaking books. One downside to this book is that has drawings instead of pictures, but it does have some personal stories from cheesemakers around the country. This is definitely the book I am going to buy when it comes to cheesemaking.

200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes
This book begins with a short description of the different styles of cheeses there are, and then walks though, with drawings, the basic cheese making steps and techniques.  It, too, talks about different kinds of milk and their natural chemical makeup before talking about other the different cultures required, equipment, and how to store the cheese. It then has different cheese style chapters with a table of contents at the beginning, a few recipes thrown in, and style troubleshooting pages at the end. After it covers cheeses, there are also chapters on yogurt and kefir and then butter, buttermilk, and crème fraîche, though most of it is for flavored butters. This book has a glossary and some sources for supplies in many countries.  It has a few colored pictures in the middle of the book, but not enough to cover all the cheese or any recipes. I do like how it tells you how big of a yield to expect from each batch. I think I will eventually purchase this book, that is, if I want a cheese not found in Home Cheese Making.

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