The Lékué cheesemaking kit (Lakeland, £18.99) is a silicone lidded tub, housing a suspended draining chamber. Acidulated milk stored within separates into curds and whey.
Making your own cheese = curds and wahey!
Cheese made in a microwave is one of those quintessentially gross developments that suggest we as a society need to be collectively put to sleep. It brings to a noble dairy culture the rank ingenuity of weeing in the sink. Right? Well, not really. Cheese is just rancid yoghurt. Ancient Sumerian merchants kept milk in goat bladders until it went off, and that’s the same stuff people now pay through the nose for, and bore on about how they couldn’t live without.
So, with open minds and clogged arteries, let’s explore this cheesemaking kit. It’s not much to look at – a plastic pot, containing a smaller pot that resembles the filter bin from a bagless vacuum. The process is basic, too: just add vinegar to milk, and watch it curdle. (If it doesn’t precipitate quickly enough, that’s when you pop it in the microwave for a minute or two.) Pour the curds into the device to drain and, after an hour or two, they’ll have packed down into cheese. (Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey; because she is a bonneted halfwit. Curds and whey should be separated. Not eaten together like a Müller Corner.)
I am disconcerted, however, when I pour away a vat of milk, to be left with a puddle of whey and some disappointing clots. (Curd-ish separatists, as I call them.) The feeble result tastes merely OK, similar to ricotta – mild, soft and spreadable. Too soft, in fact; it clogs the slats of the inner tub, so turning out a solid roll is impossible. Mixed with herbs and slathered on crackers, the plops are somewhat redeemed.
But I’m uninspired by my generic “cheese”. The draw of cheese is smelly and semantic and specific – an aged reblochon, a flinty parmigiano. I don’t want to make “cheese” any more than I want to sidle up to Bob’s Offcut Burger van and order “meat”. No one would buy cheese this boring. You won’t save money or have enough. Ricotta give this one a miss, you say? I think you’re right.
A litre of milk yielded topping for four crackers. Which is a starter to a starter, or a decadent child’s snack.
Counter, drawer, back of the cupboard?
Curds on the counter? No whey. 2/5