Meet Bev, a Longmont, Colorado, home cheesemaker since 2012. Here she is (on the left), accepting an award for one of her cheeses from Kate Johnson at a 2015 home cheesemaking contest sponsored by The Art of Cheese. Congratulations Bev!
“I think I took my first class at The Art of Cheese in early 2012. My cheesemaking log starts in April, 2015 with Camembert, but I know I was making Chèvre and Mozzarella for a while before that. I think I was in one of Kate’s earlier classes at the Longmont City Rec/Memorial Building.”
“My cheese making evolution is probably similar to many. I started with Chèvre and Mozzarella when I could use utensils I already had in my kitchen, because I didn’t want to accumulate and store more ‘stuff’.”
Bev has certainly mastered the pasta filata – stretched curd – style of cheeses. She shapes her Mozzarella into balls, braids, and filled rolls. As she stretches the Mozzarella curd, she presses it into round shapes for the balls, or pats the curd into a square before filling and rolling. “I like to make Mozzarella rolled with pepperoni and pepperoncini, because everyone especially likes them.” Sounds like a winning flavor combination to me!
But she hasn’t stopped there. Bev also makes string cheese and Oaxaca. These cheeses are also in the pasta filata family and the recipes are very similar to Mozzarella. Most of us are familiar with string cheese. Oaxaca is a Mexican-style cheese sold in long strands loosely wound in balls or tied into knots. When served, it can be unwound into long ribbons of cheese. Bev says she has a separate Oaxaca recipe, but “it’s quicker and easier to use my 30 minute Mozzarella recipe.” What a creative use of one simple recipe – so many different presentations! I think I’ll have to try my hand at filled Mozzarella rolls next time I’m hosting a get together with friends.
Bev says she does not have any dairy animals, but she does have a reliable source of high quality goat milk. “It makes a larger amount of very good tasting cheese. I’m always on the lookout for a good source of cow milk.”
“My cheese making life improved when I got a thermometer that fit my pot well and was clearly marked for cheese temperatures. Most of my equipment has been repurposed. I continuously check thrift stores and yard sales.” Eventually she added forms and a small dorm refrigerator for aging Camembert/Brie. “Next I took a hard cheese class at The Art of Cheese and learned how to make my own cheese press. This year, a friend gave me her old dorm refrigerator, so now I can make blue cheese and not cross contaminate my cheese. I receive the New England Cheesemaking Supply newsletters. Their featured recipes tempt me. Next up to try will be their CamBlu recipe. Along the way I’ve added various drying racks, aging containers, and mini-crockpots for three different colors of wax. I have accumulated and store a lot of cheesemaking ‘stuff’.”
Bev’s cheese repertoire extends far beyond Mozzarella. She has also made Chèvre, Feta, Camembert, Guido’s, Parmesan, Monterey Jack, Havarti, Cabra al Vino, Asiago, Cheddar, Ricotta salata – the list goes on and on! She also experiments with flavoring some of her cheeses. She’s made cheese flavored with dill, caraway, peppercorns, beer and wine. “I like my peppercorn Camembert. And I have some Gouda aging now that I intend to try to smoke.”
As you can see, Bev’s been busy making cheese. Here are some more of her beautiful creations: quartered Parmesan, Camembert, Cheddar, Cabra al Vino, and stuffed Mozzarella roll.
When she makes her Parmesan, she uses one gallon of milk and gets about one pound of cheese. “I cut them in quarters and wax them. I most often serve them on cheese plates when we have friends for dinner, so I use the quarter pound pieces and the others stay fresher. …My daughter-in-law told me all she wants for future gifts is Parm!”
Bev’s hardest cheesemaking challenge? “Having the willpower to allow my cheese to age. The difference between 12 month and 18 month aged Parm is amazing, but it is hard to wait.” I can certainly relate to that. One of my favorite cheese recipes ages at least a year. The longest I’ve managed to wait is 15 months!
Thanks for sharing, Bev, and Happy Cheesemaking!
submitted by Becca Heins, Certified Cheese Professional ®