Let’s make cheese! Part 1.

I love cheese in most forms, although I’m not very adventurous when it comes to “blue” varieties. I also don’t fancy the maggot cheese that Andrew Zimmern ate in Sardinia. And then there’s cottage cheese, but I don’t believe anyone actually eats that – surely it exists purely to torture fat people…?

Anyway, I’m in need of a career change so I’ve decided to follow in the footsteps of Alex James from Blur by leaving my old life behind to make cheese. I’ve seen a few cheese making kits around recently, and Harvey Norman Big Buys caught me in a moment of weakness with a “Mad Millie” kit on special from $140 to $78 including shipping. I ordered it on a Thursday and received it by courier the following Monday which was quite impressive.

Checking out Mad Millie’s website reveals that I didn’t get such a bargain after all, as this kit is only $64.90 from them. Hmm. It’s at this point that I realise that the “fresh cheese” kit I have doesn’t make any type of cheese that I’d actually like to eat. Bugger. I have the beginners kit, hard cheeses – my favourite – fall into the “intermediate to advanced” category. Oh well, I guess I have to start somewhere.

Inside the garish purple cardboard box is what appears to be a garish purple promotional esky, although I wonder if taking this to the beach might bring some funny glances.

The incubator has an impressive array of contents – I checked the list to make sure I hadn’t accidentally purchased a bovine artificial insemination kit:

  • cheese vat
  • thermometer
  • pipette
  • measuring beaker (that’s more like half a test tube, not a beaker)
  • feta moulds with brining container
  • butter muslin
  • packet of cheese salt
  • packet of mixed herbs
  • bottle of iodophor (apparently for sanitizing equipment)
  • mesophilic cheese culture
  • 10 tablets of vegetarian rennet (not sure what happens if you mix these up with paracetamol)

The cheese culture needs to be put into the freezer within 48 hours of the kit being received, according to the instructions (and also the email that was sent to me by Harvey Norman advising of the package’s dispatch). Given that the whole kit appears to come from Europe, one wonders how crucial the timing really is…oh well, off to the freezer we go.

A quick flick through the instructions reveals that this isn’t going to be as easy – or quick – as I thought. To make matters worse, this kit only makes feta, halloumi, cream cheese, quark (what the hell is that?) and – horror of horrors – cottage cheese.

My parents have banned me from using this kit at home due to their fear of horrific smells and / or cheesy explosions, so it’s off to Renay’s place with my incubator.

The cheese baron cometh. Stay tuned.