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The Cheesy Experience Officer helps you master cheese-making

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: URBAN CHEESECRAFT - You can make beautiful cheeses like these with kits from Urban Cheesecraft.

I don’t mean to brag, but I can now include cheesemaker on my resume, and you can too. Making cheese is surprisingly simple, and my new friend Claudia Lucero with Urban Cheesecraft is making it even more so. She’s the company’s CEO — that’s Cheesy Experience Officer — and she creates do-it-yourself kits for making cheeses of many kinds.

While on an Internet quest to learn how to can and preserve the abundance from her CSA share, the East Portand resident stumbled upon cheese-making on a website.

“I thought to myself, ‘That doesn’t look too hard,’ so I started experimenting with making instant gratification cheeses, cheeses that could be done in about an hour,” she said.

She took her cheeses to weekly potlucks to the amazement and pleasure of her friends.

“They were the hit of the party every time,” she said. “And people started asking me to tell them how to do it. That gave me the idea of putting together a kit, because it is so simple.” She started selling the kits on Etsy and what had been a fun hobby slowly became a serious business; Whole Foods, New Seasons and other retailers were interested in her kits.

“It was the right thing at the right time,” Claudia said.

On her website, urbancheesecraft.com, Claudia sells kits to make farmer cheese, chevre, mozzarella and ricotta and paneer and queso blanco. She also sells supplies and offers recipes.

What is farmer cheese?

“If you have ever tasted ricotta in lasagna, paneer in curries or queso fresco in tacos, you’ve had a farmer cheese,” she said. “As you can imagine, farmers all over the world have had to come up with creative uses for precious milk as well as create smart and tasty ways to feed their families. Delicious farmers cheese solves both of these challenges because it is simple to prepare, results in a lot of cheese and can be used in all types of foods, even desserts.”

Ready to give it a try? Come on, be a cheesemaker like me. You will be amazed at what you create. In our recipe today, Claudia walks you through the steps to make your first batch of delicious farmer cheese. Be sure to visit her website to learn more, urbancheesecraft.com.

Bon Appetit! Eat something wonderful!

Beginner’s Cheese

Ready in 30 minutes

Gather your ingredients:

½ gallon (8 cups) milk not ultra-pasteurized

¼ cup lemon juice or vinegar

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Equipment you will need:

Large nonreactive pot (at least 3 quarts)

Fine cheesecloth

Colander

Large slotted spoon

Large heat-resistant bowl (if you plan to keep your whey)

Step 1 — Line your colander with the cheesecloth - make sure all four corners hang over the edge. Place the colander in your sink with the large bowl underneath if you plan on keeping the whey. You can freeze whey for later if you can only handle one awesome new skill at a time.

Step 2 — Heat the milk in your pot at medium heat to start. If you have a thermometer, you’ll be looking for 185 F. If you want to use your awesome human observation skills like a legit farmer, you’re looking for lots of steam, foam all over the top of the milk and foamy bubbles sticking to the side of the pot, as well as a hot milk smell (not to be confused with burned milk). You are not looking for rolling bubbles or lots of noise though ... that’s too far.

I know what you’re thinking, what kind of recipe is this? How can I be sure the milk is hot enough? Smell the milk? Foamy bubbles? Don’t worry! You will see coagulation when the milk is the right temperature. You’re covered no matter what. Seriously, the next step will show you the way.

Step 3 — When either your keen senses or your thermometer tell you that the milk is about 185 F, drizzle in the lemon juice or vinegar and stir quickly to make sure it mixes thoroughly with the milk. If the temperature is right, you will soon see a very clear separation between the curds (white clumps) and whey (yellowish liquid). If you do indeed see curds, very gently move them around the pot to assist in cooking them, do not stir vigorously or you may break up the fragile curds. Allow the curds to cook this way for a full minute. Turn off the heat.

Step 4 — Carefully spoon the curds into the cloth-lined colander, catch the whey with the large bowl if you intend to use it. Allow most of the whey to drain out of your curds. Then add and mix in the salt, chopped herbs, cracked pepper or anything else you want to try. Taste pinches of the curds once you stir the tasty bits in to check if you need more. At this point your cheese is done — congratulations, you made cheese! Eat it immediately or store it for later.

You should have close to one pound of cheese. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers and use within a week.

Use the whey in place of water in baking and making pancakes or in place of milk in creamy soups. It can also be used to make fruit smoothies or frozen fruit pops.

Claudia Lucero, Urban Cheesecraft

You can learn more about Urban Cheesecraft online at urbancheesecraft.com.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 100, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow her on Twitter at @barbatthereview.



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