Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Cheese Glorious Cheese

One of the few things I still walk the several miles to the supermarket for is cheese. And it is also one of the most expensive things I buy. For a dairying nation, it is appalling that our cheese is more expensive than pretty much anywhere else in the world. Even more appalling, NEW ZEALAND cheese (and butter) is more expensive here in NZ than anywhere else in the world! Our own cheese - we pay more for it on the supermarket shelves than the people we export it to!
Basic cheeses like cottage cheese and ricotta, which only require lemon juice, I have made often over the years, but getting the necessary supplies to do the fancier/more complex cheeses was always difficult if not impossible. Now that Mad Millie has come on the market here, I can finally get all the things I need to make my own cheese. Yay!
Making cheese is actually quite easy, and a lot of fun, not to mention satisfying. It is just time consuming. But it is worth it. It tastes sooo much better than store-bought, is a lot healthier, and is substantially cheaper. For $6.50 of milk, I can make about $25-$30 worth of feta (which I then marinate in olive oil and herbs, which would then go for around $50-$60 in the shops), or $30-$35 worth of mozzarella, or around $40-$50 worth of halloumi. I am going to try making parmesan soon, because I should be able to do around $30-$35 worth with the $6.50 of milk. There is really no way I could afford to eat these types of cheeses if I didn't make them myself. I can barely afford to buy basic unmarinated feta in the shop, certainly not any of the others. When I have a little extra cash (not that often), I do buy a little bit of feta, and put it up to marinate, but for the others, I usually have to wait until Mum comes over from Aussie for a visit every two years or so, and she splashes out to get us some really nice cheeses. Next time she comes, I will be able to serve up my own cheeses instead.
Yesterday's cheese was mozzarella. Although the recipe specifies unhomogenized milk, this batch I did with regular, homogenized milk, and had no problems with it. The first batch I did a few weeks back I did do with unhomogenized, but it wasn't any better, or easier to work, than using the homogenized - if anything, the homogenised milk batch turned out better. This is good for me, since the nearest place I can get the unhomogeized milk is the supermarket - yup, that one that is several miles walk away.

And the prize for making mozzarella is... PIZZA! Making your own cheese gives a whole new meaning to "pizza made from scratch".
Here are the toppings all prepped, just waiting for the dough for the crust to rise. (The recipe for the dough can be found on my "No Fail Pizza Dough" post).

 We have my home made pizza sauce (also on the "No Fail Pizza Dough" post) in the jar, chopped sorrel fresh from the garden, and on the platter we have starting at the top left: my home fermented capsicums, fresh mushrooms (popped up on the lawn overnight), the fresh mozzarella, salami (ok, that's store bought, I'm not quite up to making my own salamis yet), the stuffed baby eggplant I put up a couple of months ago (the eggplants were from my own garden), dried tomatoes in olive oil that I did last year (tomatoes from my garden too), and my home cured olives.
Da dada da dada dah... PIZZA.



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