I love making cheese. It makes me feel like the sorcerer’s apprentice with all of the stirring and heating and the magic of seeing delicious foods like fresh mozzarella or cream cheese appear. Of all the foods I have made, it’s the cheese that I am the proudest of. One of the wonderful things about cheese is that many kinds can be made with nothing but powdered milk and dried starters although I would only do that in a true emergency. Otherwise my cheese deserves the bet I can provide-fresh, whole local milk and cream and time and attention to detail.

One of the easiest cheeses to make is called Quark. It is the oldest form of cheese. It is a bit like thick yogurt but not a tart. It requires nothing more than a dairy thermometer, a collander, some butter muslin, milk and cream and some direct set buttermilk starter. If you feel like doing the on-line research, you can find recipes that include common herbs as the starter.

Heat 1 gallon of  milk to 88 degrees. You can make a richer cheese by substituting some heavy cream for ome of the milk. I usually use about 1/2 cup of cream to 3 1/2 cups of milk. Add the starter and mix thoroughly.

Cover the pot and let it set at room temperature for 24 hours.

Ladel the curds into a collander lined with butter muslin. Tie the corners of the muslin into a know and place the bag of curds in the refrigerator to drain overnight. You can put something heavy on top of the curds to help with the draining.

If the cheese is too dry when finished you can add some cream to it. It will make a a bit over a pound of cheese that will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Obviously, cheese is not something one makes to save either time or money. You do it because you can and because you love good food and a host of other reasons more important than the almighty dollar or having time to watch television.

If you are serious about making cheese you need a copy of Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. This is where the Quark recipe came from. You can purchase her cheese making kit on-line or mail order it. Go to www.cheesemaking.com. Ricki has cd roms and videos and gives classes in her amazing home in Massachusetts.

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