Making Cheese

Fresh Tomme Cheese

By Diana Vinh

Have you ever wanted to make cheese?  The first time I tried was as a Peace Corps volunteer living in the West African country of Mali.  I was really missing pizza so went down to the local market and bought some milk in a calabash gourd, bread dough and a few dabs of tomato paste on a banana leaf.  Once I got home I put vinegar in the milk then strained it through mosquito netting to separate the curds from the whey.  Voila!  A simple cheese that actually made an ok pizza when baked in an adobe oven.

Over the years I thought it would be fun to try again but lack of time and a good milk supply prevented me from giving it a go.  Now that my goat, Ophelia, is producing a gallon of milk a day I definitely was ready to try again.  First Madeline and I took a class then the cheesemaking began!

The first cheese I made was a simple chevre.  You just add a bacterial culture then let it sit until a nice soft curd forms.  This gets ladled into chevre molds and once the whey drips out the cheese is ready to eat.  The next one I tried was a tomme cheese.  This was a bit more difficult with culture then rennet needing to be added.  This cheese needs to age so I won’t know how it turns out for a while.

What do you think of trying this in a community kitchen setting?