New Books on Making Cheese 2011
June 10, 2011
Last year, I reviewed six cheesemaking books. Since then, I have found another six cheesemaking books, and all but one was published in the last year!
101 Recipes for Making Cheese by Cynthia M. Martin, 2011
The introduction has a good title: Beyond Plastic-Wrapped Slices – Making Cheese at Home. It then launches into the book, with chapter 1 covering the real history of cheese, cheese making today, and why you should make cheese. Chapter 2 covers the categories of cheese, nutritional value of cheese, and notes about lactose intolerant. Next is a chapter discussing different types of milk, followed by a chapter on cheesemaking chemistry. Chapter 5 is dedicated to equipment, which is broken down into what you need as a beginner and what you will need as you become more advanced. Probably one the best jems of this book is a suggested cheese journal for you to take notes on how you made and aged your cheese.
Chapter 6 finally starts on cheesemaking with simple or fresh cheeses, which is followed then by chapter 7 dedicated to semi-firm, ripened, and brined washed cheeses, and chapter 8 on firm cheese and blue cheese. Interestingly, thought the chemistry section mentions pH, the recipes do not include this, which I’ve been told by a former commercial cheesemaker is actually the proper way to make cheese instead of by clock time. pH is mentioned for troubleshooting mozzarella, but otherwise, I think it would have been better to not mention this topic if it wasn’t really going to be included.
Chapter 10 helps you write up a business plan if you want to start selling your cheese, and chapter 11 is about getting connected with a milk source, supplies, and organizations.
This book has a glossary, bibliography, and an index. It was printed on cheaper paper, and has very few black and white photos. If you are a visual learner and need photos to cook, this is not your book. There are cute little cheese myths (the moon is made out of cheese), fun facts (Mighty Mouse is only vulnerable to Limburger cheese), and case studies of cheese producers sprinkled though out to make it a little fun.
Overall, I feel like this book is hit or miss. There is some good information in it, but a lot to wade through to find them.
Cheesemaking: Self-Sufficiency by Rita Ash, 2010
One of the first things I notice about this book is all of the drawings and illustrations have a very distinct style. No credit is given to anyone, so I wonder if they were done by the author.
The chapters include an introduction, a brief history which goes from domestication of animals to factories, the basics, making cheese, recipes, taking cheese further, and selling cheese. The book ends with a glossary, three American supply resources, and an index.
When it comes to making cheese, Ash does break down equipment needed by experience, so the more experienced you become, the more equipment you will then buy. There are initially 11 cheesemaking recipes, which all appear to be British cheeses, partly because Ash learned to make cheese from a 1947 British Ministry of Food pamphlet. She does have a troubleshooting section before she moves on to “taking cheese further,” which is an additional 11 recipes from various parts of the worlds, and some of the recipes are quite simple to make that I’m not sure why they are in this chapter, such as panir and ricotta. The last chapter on selling cheese would be pretty good at helping someone write up a business plan if they wanted to do just that.
With the trend of DIY and urban farming, this book fits the ticket for self-sufficiency. However, I wish there were more pictures, and I could see somebody becoming bored with this book from a lack of recipes, or annoyed with the British centeredness.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cheese Making by James R. Leverentz, 2010
Looking at this book, it is a bit sterile in content, but it is hard to argue that it wouldn’t be a good book. Like any Idiot’s Guide, it is orderly and chalked full of definitions, and it progressively becomes more complicated, but in a good structured “one foot in front of the other” way.
It starts out with the usual talk about the composition of cheese including “the cheesemaker’s toolbox,” and then moves on to making quick cheeses and then cultured and conventional cheeses. However, it never dives into the world of blue cheese at all. There are also recipes mixed in of ways to cook with the cheese, which is kind of confusing because sometimes you don’t know if you are looking at a cheese making recipe or a cheese cooking recipe.
There are a few black and white drawings or photographs when they are needed. To give more info or to lighten the mood, they use “cheese bites” of information or “whey watch” to avoid issues as little boxes on the pages.
Leverentz does mention pH meter, but I’m not really sure why he thought it was important since it isn’t provided in any of the recipes except provolone. I am impressed, though, that they made some cheap, quick, and disposable cheese molds out of paper cups by punching holes in them, but does suggest buying real molds in the future. There is also a worksheet to fill out when making a batch of cheese.
Fundamentals of Cheese Science by Patrick F. Fox, Timothy P Guinee, Timothy M Cogan, and Paul LH McSweeney, 2000
I have one word to sum this book up: textbook. Written by four men with PhDs working in Cork, Ireland, this is a book that gets into manufacturing cheese, the chemistry and bacteriology of cheese, cheese cultures and enzymes, the science of rennet, the effects of salt on cheese, cheese yield, the microbiology and biochemistry of cheese ripening, cheese flavor and texture, factors on quality, cheese varieties, imitation cheeses, cheese as a food ingredient, pathogens and food poisoning from cheese, cheese nutrition, whey, and analytical methods. The book is chalked full of charts and mathematical equations. It is an interesting book, but very scientific, black and white, and dry, so this book is for the advanced cheesemaker who wants to know what exactly is going on and really gets science.
Homemade Cheese by Janet Hurst, 2011
This book claims to have 50 cheesemaking recipes, with the first one being on page 27. This book is scattered. The first chapter on understanding cheese talks about milk, then a two page spread on a farm, back to the milk (continued from page 11), sanitation, techniques, another farm spread, back to techniques, record keeping, another farm, cheesemaking step by step, and then finally how to make chèvre. Of course, that can’t be simple, as the directions are spread out over multiple pages by antidotes of chèvre uses and pairings, herbs de provence, and crème fraiche. I feel like this book had ADD and can’t focus on any one thing.
Out of the books I am reviewing this year, it does have a few cheeses not covered in the other books, including manchego, valencay, brie, and gruyère. The book does have a suggested record sheet to help track the recipe, methods, and aging. However, it drives me batty how scattered everything is, so I probably wouldn’t use this book unless it was for those two points.
The Joy of Cheesemaking by Jody M. Farnham and Marc Druart, 2011
Let’s say you’ve been making cheese for a little while, and so you are ready to go up a level and learn more about the science, but you don’t want to buy a textbook like Fundamentals of Cheese Science. For $15, this is the book for you. It is chalked full of charts, graphs, and tables, but at the end of each chapter is an interview with a cheese producer followed by a cheese cooking recipe or two, all with color photographs. You will not be overwhelmed by the science because they keep it fun. For instance, while most all cheesemaking books talk about different species’ milk, this one has a nice little picture of milk cans that represent water, lactose, lipids, proteins, and minerals, with each can’s size representing a percentage. And there is a lot of color in the graphics and with photos.
The contents include an introduction, cheese classification, milk composition and seasonality, starter cultures, coagulation and drainage, molding, pressing, salting (brining vs dry salting), aging, core cheese makers, building a cheese board, pairing cheese with wine, beer and beyond, and “rockin’ the wedge” (more cheese producers and recipes). The book ends with an Irish blessing, followed by universities that teach cheesemaking, a glossary, acknowledgements, and an index.
Here are some cool topics you will find:
- Milk composition talks about protein/fat ratio, and different cheeses need this ratio to be different.
- 7 factors responsible for initial milk quality
- A table of various starter cultures
- The method of measuring a start culture by weight, and how to figure out how much you need based on the volume of milk you have
- Calibration and use of a pH meter, and an example of pH values after certain steps with time given. There is also a chart of pH and time.
- Types of coagulants and a diagram of how they act on casein in milk, and “how to properly measure and calculate the amount of coagulant” based on the volume of milk.
- Desired amount of pressure needed to press a cheese based on cheese type, and how to calculate pressure.
- Target salt for a cheese type and how to measure the salt needed.
- Aging process by cheese type, including conditions, care, time, and wrap.
- Each cheese recipe includes ingredients, brine solution and pH (if needed), method, target pH and temperatures, yield, and required time to make excluding aging time.
Admittedly, one weakness to this book is that there are only 7 cheesemaking recipes: soft cheeses queso blanco and fresh chèvre; soft-ripened cheeses camembert and reclochon-type (washed rind); semi-hard cheeses gouda, tome de savoie-type (natural rind), and blue cheese. I think these might be generic enough to pair with another book to get the recipes, and then apply the science from this book, but I’m not completely sure.
The cheese plate section is pretty cool, too, with a chart of cheeses and then paired with sweet, savory, salty, and “go big” foods. The beverage pairing goes through a little debate before giving suggested wine pairings, beer pairings, and doing a cheese tasting.
Now this book gets me excited. It’s different, scientific, but not overwhelming and doesn’t lose its reader in all the details, as the details are there to be interesting and advance learning. Remember, though, it is not a book I would get for a beginner unless it was paired with another book.
Additional nutritional and/or alternative diet books which have a few pages regarding making and consuming usually fresh cheese and other dairy products:
- Truly Cultured by Nancy Lee Bentley, 2007 has Camembert cheese, ceviche, cream cheese, crème frâiche, and farmer’s cheese.
- Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, 2003. Recipes for a farmer cheese and rennet cheese.