Posts Tagged ‘Arab traveller’

Delight of Making Your Own Cheeses

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

According to legend, the world’s first cheese was discovered by a traveling Arab merchant who stopped in the desert for lunch. His meal consisted of dried dates and goat’s milk which was carried in a sack-like container made of a sheep’s stomach. To the great surprise of the merchant, the milk had changed from a cool, sweet liquid to curds and whey, a chemical reaction caused by the intense heat of the desert at midday, the jostling of the pack animal and the small amount of rennet left in the milk container. The whey, a milky liquid, satisfied the traveler’s thirst and the curds, his appetite—thus, cheese was discovered.
These cheeses are called natural cheeses because they are made directly from fresh milk, with or without aging and ‘ripening’ by bacterial action or molds. Process cheese, cheese food and process cheese spread are produced from natural cheese and are blended for uniformity of flavour and texture. Since that first chance encounter with cheese some 4,000 years ago, cheese makers have found hundreds of ways to make different types of cheeses both in the home and commercially.

Herbs are still traditionally used to flavour some hard cheeses both commercially and in the home. For instance, sage for Sage Derby and Vermont Sage cheese, and a species of melilot for Gruyere. Herbs have been found to be particularly useful as wonderful flavorings for the soft, bland curds and cottage cheeses that can be made at home or bought ready-made. Recipes to make some of these soft herbal cheeses are included in betweenclosefriends.com blog under the ‘Recipe’ Category, such as Geranium and Lemon Cream Cheese, How to make a Potted cheese, How to make Boursin with Fresh Herbs (my personal favourite!), and a variety of other interesting and flavourful ‘how to’ recipes that are both mouthwatering and easy to make at home with your own fresh organic herbs.

Chopped herbs and pressed herb juices, spices, strong hot seasonings of crushed fresh or dried peppercorns or cayenne peppers, the delicate and sweet flavorings of cinnamon, sugar and rosewater, all give widely different characteristics to these store-bought and home-made cheeses.

Saffron, marigold petals or spinach juice can be used to vary the colours, while a sprig of rosemary or thyme pressed into the curd, or a wrapping of bay leaves give very fine and unique flavours you will be sure to enjoy.

The large leaves of plants such as burdock (butter dock), dockspecies (butter leaves), and butter bur, Petasites hybridus, are still used in many country districts as cool wrappings for butters and cheeses.

I sincerely hope you have fun and enjoy experimenting with your fresh herbs and spices in making some of these recipes provided. This can also be a wonderful project to undertake with your small children (or even older teens), as an easy and simple introduction to combining both chemistry (the mixing part), and cooking for enjoyment, pleasure and necessity. The results are truly amazing, on several levels!

Recipes on how to make milk cheese, basic cream cheeses, yogurt cheese, cottage cheese, potted cheeses, and soft cheese are included in betweenclosefriends.com blog under the ‘Recipe’ Category. Feast and enjoy!