There’s a Portlandia skit about how you can pickle nearly anything, which is a gentle ribbing of this city’s general propensity for DIY. Just because you can pickle something doesn’t mean you should, and the same goes for a lot of DIY endeavors. But when it’s this easy, I think you can (and should!) try making your own cheese. Author Claudia Lucero, who just happens to be a Portlander, is definitely a believer in DIY cheese, and has written One Hour Cheese, which is a great guide to making your own simple cheeses in an hour or less.
For the purposes of One Hour Cheese, I would probably be classified as an intermediate cheesemaker. A beginner would be someone who has never made any of her own cheese before, but I’ve made batches of queso fresco and paneer. Have no fear, though, this book assumes you have no cheesemaking experience and walks you through the steps with plenty of descriptions and photos, lots of encouragement, and even a few recipes for how to consume your cheese once you’ve made it. If you’ve never made any cheese before, you’ll probably be surprised at how easy it can be.
To give you an idea of the difficulty, the recipes are classified as “easy,” “easier,” and “easiest.” I tried three types of cheese, one classified as easy (“Fromage Facile”), and two that were easier (“Smoky Cheater,” and “Favorite Melty Mozzarella”). My favorite was definitely the mozzarella, simply because of the three, it’s the type of cheese that I consume the most. Unless they’re for a specific recipe, I don’t buy very many soft cheeses like the one that resulted from the fromage facile recipe, but I knew just what to do with the mozzarella. I sliced up some ciabatta bread, brushed it with a little olive oil, and layered mozzarella on top of fresh tomato slices and torn basil leaves. A few minutes under a broiler, and I had a delicious melty snack.
As you can see, I even got a little bit fancy with my mozzarella and braided it up. That’s one of the coolest aspects of this book: It demystifies the cheesemaking process to the point where you can experiment with different shapes, textures, and flavors of cheese. I’m really looking forward to trying more of the recipes, and whipping up my own cheeses whenever I have an hour to spare. If you’ve ever thought that it might be fun to be able to make your own cheese, I highly recommend that you give the recipes in this book a try.