Category Archives: cheese making supplies

Brooklyn Chevre’

I’m back on track making cheese after a little hiatus. It was raining yesterday in Brooklyn so I decided to make some goat cheese. Chevre’, meaning goat in french, is technically the term for all goat cheese but we think of chevre’ as the soft, cream cheese like goat cheese we are often used to in the USA.

Goat's Milk

I decided to make chevre’ with dill and garlic. I bought a half gallon of pasteurized goat’s milk and used my chevre’ starter from New England Cheesemaking which I keep in the freezer.

At left is the goat’s milk right out of the bottle in a pot on my stove.

I heated it to around 80 degrees (fahrenheit), added the starter and a few tablespoons of dissolved vegetable rennet. Rennet helps to coagulate milk. Rennet is traditionally made from the stomach lining of an animal but I prefer the vegetable variety. If you want to learn more about rennet, check out this article.

After mixing the milk for a few minutes, I covered it and just let it set for around 12 hours, waiting for the curd to form. After 12 hours, I had a nice curd in the pot – the milk becomes a custard-y consistency and there was a little bit of clear liquid at the top.

Dill and Garlic

Next, I minced some dill and 1 garlic clove and mixed it all up with the curds. Then, I ladled the curds into a butter muslin (cheese cloth) that I lined inside of a colander. Last, I tied the four corners of the muslin together and fastened the whole “bag” to my kitchen faucet, handing over the sink.

I let the bag hang, draining slowly, over the sink, over night.

In the morning, I united the bag and here is what I got:

Finished Garlic and Dill Chevre

From half a gallon of goat’s milk, I ended up with one small tupperware carton of chevre’. It’s delicious, fresh and not too “goat-y.” It’s a great starter cheese for anyone interested in cheesemaking. I’m going to bring mine to a dinner party and we’ll eat it on crackers and bread with olives and fresh vegetables.

Avi's Brooklyn Chevre

In America, Chevre’ only became popular in the 1980s. Laua Chenel is known as the mother of American goat cheese. She pioneered artisan chevre’ production in California and reigned as the doyenne of American goat cheese for more than 20 years. As the NY Times reported, Chenel’s business was bought out by a larger company in 2006.

Last but not least, have a look at some great chevre’ recipe suggestions from this Chowhound page.



More Cheese in the News

God Bless the nuns!

Nuns Have Faith in Gouda


Editor’s Note: CNN Photojournalist Bill Alberter brings us this report from Virginia.

Tucked away in the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley just west of Charlottesville, Virginia, lies a convent of nuns who – along with their daily worship – create a homemade Gouda cheese that’s just heavenly.

Just about 23 years ago, a group of Catholic nuns from Massachusetts set out for Virginia to create a convent for worship that was totally self-sufficient. It became the Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels. “Part of our tradition is to support ourselves by some sort of manual labor,” Sister Barbara Smickel explained.
They purchased a sprawling farm, which had a barn that housed cheese-making equipment. Even though none of the sisters knew how to make cheese at that time, they decided that was how they were going to provide for themselves.

The sisters of “Our Lady of the Angels” had some help along the way. Friendly neighbors Jim and Margaret Morse lent their expertise in cheese-making. “I think what they really needed to know was how much hands-on work there was,” Jim Morse said.

Nearly every Thursday, the sisters are up at 3:00 a.m. to start the cheese-making by hand. They make about 21,000 pounds of cheese each year, which they sell at the monastery, via mail order and at local grocery stores in Charlottesville.

This fall marks 20 years that the sisters have been making their heavenly creation.

Making Delicious “Mozz” at Home


A lot of people who know about my proclivities for and activities related to cheese-making in my Brooklyn, NY apartment have asked me for an easy cheese they can try making at home.

Mozarella is by far the easiest and will give you the most instant gratification for your efforts. Before we dive into the recipe, let me digress for a moment about the history of Mozarella. It’s not clear how mozarella was invented, but like many of the best inventions, it was probably an accident. A cheese curd probably fell into a pot of boiling water, an Italian farmer fished it out and, voi la, mozarella.

We do know that the classic buffalo mozarella comes from Aversa near Naples:

Classic Buffalo Mozarella is made from the milk of water buffaloes. According to Wikipedia, “more than 33,000 tons of buffalo mozarella are produced per year in Italy and it is an industry worth more than $430 million.”

Unless you have access to water buffaloes, you will most likely make your mozarella from cow’s milk. Technically, mozarella made from the milk of cows is called Fior di latte .

OK, now for the good stuff. Here is an easy, “in-an-afternoon” cheese that anyone can make at home. If you need help with any supplies, I recommend but you can also get all of the ingredients for Mozarella at Wholefoods or another health food store.

First, watch this video to get a visual (and aural – Spanish guitar music always helps) sense of how it looks to make Mozz and then see the recipes below for details:

Although it takes a little effort, once you’ve tasted your home-made Mozz, you’ll know it’s worth it.Most recipes for mozarella are similar so you can browse the internet for other variations. This recipe is from

step 1 Equipment you will need:
Equipment: 1. At least an 8 quart pot either enameled or stainless steel. (Do not use aluminum, cast iron or other reactive pots) 2. Thermometer. (A candy thermometer will probably work but a good digital thermometer is much better for accuracy.) 3. A couple measuring cups or something to dissolve the Citric Acid and Rennet in. 4. A big strainer to strain the Curds fro…

step 2OK First things First
1. Pour 1 teaspoon Citric Acid into 1/4 cup unchlorinated water and stir. Crush the Rennet tablet and pour it into the other cup of unchlorinated water. The Citric Acid should be dissolved by the time you have to use it. Most of the Rennet will be dissolved but there will still be some residue left. 2. If you haven’t done so already, pour milk into your pot. Make sur…
step 3Pour in the Citric Acid.
1. Pour the dissolved Citric Acid in the milk and stir for 1 minute. 2. Sprinkle the other teaspoon of Citric Acid in the milk and sir for another minute. You will probably see the milk start to curdle very shortly.
step 4Heat milk to 88-90 degrees F. Stirring occasionally.
This is not an error. You are not trying to pasteurize the milk. If you get it too hot or too cold, the Rennet will not make curds. Use a low heat so it doesn’t go past the 88-90 degrees. It should take about 10-15 minutes.
step 5At 88-90 degrees turn off the heat and stir in the Rennet solution for 15-20 seconds.
Cover the pot with the lid and LEAVE IT SET UNDISTURBED FOR AT LEAST 15-20 MINUTES until you can get a clean break. I usually let mine set for 15-30 minutes. Time is not critical here as long as you get the clean break.
step 6Wait for a clean break.
This is what a clean break looks like. When you poke your finger into it and move for an inch or so and lift it out, the Curd and Whey should separate shortly. If it is still liquidy (Is that a real word?) and sticks to your finger let it set a while longer.
step 7Cut the Curd.
Cut the Curds into 1/2 inch cubes from top to bottom as shown. Then do the same thing at a 45 degree angle.
step 8Let the Curds set undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
Just let them sit there.
step 9Apply low heat and heat to 108 degrees.
Apply low heat and stir the curds occasionally to keep them separated until they reach 108 degrees. This will take about 15 minutes. The Curds will shrink and start to sink as the Whey is expelled from them.
step 10Turn off the heat.
Turn off the heat and continue stirring every few minutes for an additional 20 minutes. The Curds will keep shrinking.
Once you’ve finished making your mozarella, you will have a pot full of whey left over. Now, for the bonus recipe:
this leftover whey is the key ingredient in making Ricotta cheese! Ricotta cheese is technically a whey cheese since it is made from re-heating and coagulating the left-over whey that results from making other cheeses. Check out the history of Ricotta here.
To make your Ricotta, follow this recipe from
Once you have your fresh Mozarella nd Ricotta, here are a few good “summer-y” recipes:


Women in Cheese in NYC

I found this from my friends at Slow Food NYC. I’ll be there on January 6th. If you’re not familiar with the Slow Food movement, check out their website here and then look for them locally in your city.

“Do you love cheese? Have you ever thought about why so many women are making such good cheese?

Join Slow Food NYC Jan 6th for an evening filled with local women in cheese. On hand will be local cheese purveyor Anne Saxelby, of Saxelby Cheesemongers, leading a discussion with Karen Weinberg of Three Corner Field Farm, Betsy Devine and Rachel Mark of Salvatore Bklyn, Angela Miller of Consider Bardwell Farm, and Lisa Schwartz of Rainbeau Ridge.

Hear the story behind the cheese and how this diverse group of women got into the business. They will discuss the cheese making process from the pastures to the shelves and what makes each of their cheeses so wonderful and unique. And of course each participant will also bring plenty of cheese to try, paired with local New York State cider.

Proceeds from this event will help support the activities and programs of Slow Food NYC.

Where: Astor Center – 399 Lafayette St. (at East 4th St.); Manhattan

When: Wedesday, January 6th, 2010 – 6:30 to 8:30

Tickets Available at:

Slow Food Members: $25 – use promotional code SFNYCMEM
Non-members: $35 – use promotional code SFNYCNON”

Cheese University Part Due

My excursion into the world of formal cheese education last night was a success.

I arrived at the famous Murray’s cheese on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village a little nervous. Although I’ve been making my Brooklyn Cheese for more than six months now, would I be a complete novice in a room full of dairy mavens and TUROPHILES (That’s definitely the SAT word of the day)? With all of these sophisticated New Yorkers, would I end up looking like a Kraft single in a room full of aged cheddar and weepy brie?

My fears were quickly put to rest by the friendliness of the staff at Murrays and by the laid-back teacher of the class, Wil Edwards. Aside from teaching this class, Wil is an editor at the new Culture Magazine . He has spent years working on goat and sheep farms in California and Europe and he is a great photographer. Will is also opening an Artisan Food School. Very cool.

During the class, we tried 10 different cheese and learned a lot about the cheese making process. Most of the class was review for me, but i did learn some new things. I loved Wil’s passionate insistence that when you eat cheese, the cheesemaker is as much on your plate as the cheese itself. Each cheese is an art just like painting or photography.

My favorite cheese of the evening was Pleasant Ridge Reserve, a raw, cow’s milk from 9 cross breeds handcrafted by Mike Gingrich. It is so damn good! From the Uplands Cheese Company that makes this cheese:

Pleasant Ridge Reserve is an artisanal cheese made from the non-pasteurized milk of a single herd of Wisconsin cows fed and managed using natural, “old world” practices. Our cows graze lush pastures from early spring through fall, just as all cows did before the industrialization of our food system. The resulting milk has better nutritional value and more varied and subtle flavors that are expressed in the delicate flavor profile of Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese.”

I also learned about a rare Italian delicacy called “callu cabetu cheese” that is literally cheese curds formed in a baby goat (kid)’s stomach. The kid is slaughtered and the cheese is served or sold right out of the stomach. Yuk, but definitely interesting. According to Wil, this is how rennet (the enzyme used by cheesemakers to harden or coagulate milk) was discovered: a baby goat was slaughtered and they saw that the milk it had drunk was now chees-y in its stomach. Wow.

Another thing I learned about was Washed Rind Cheeses. Here’s a video explaining how it’s done (Although these guys are whacky Canadians, they explain it nicely) :

I’m thinking of going to Murray’s Cheese U Bootcamp in two weeks. Anyone else planning on going?

Cheese University

I’m off to Cheese University tonight at the famous Murrays Cheese, in Greenwich Village.

I’m taking The Art of Cheesemaking which is described on the Murray’s website as folows:

“It’s often hard to truly school students on the cheesemaking process within the confines of 254 Bleecker Street, but this time we’re going all out. Although we can’t get a herd of cows and a thousand liter vat, Wil Edwards, Editor at Large and photographer for Culture magazine, will lead you on a multi-sensory adventure, teaching you about the craft of cheesemaking. Combining tasting, talking, and photographs, he’ll spell out the process, step by step, and teach you how cheesemakers transform milk to cheese masterpiece. Taste through a variety of distinct styles and broaden your knowledge on how each cheese came to we’re going all out. Although we can’t get a herd of cows and a thousand liter vat, Wil Edwards, Editor at Large and photographer for Culture magazine, will lead you on a multi-sensory adventure, teaching you about the craft of cheesemaking. Combining tasting, talking, and photographs, he’ll spell out the process, step by step, and teach you how cheesemakers transform milk to cheese masterpiece. Taste through a variety of distinct styles and broaden your knowledge on how each cheese came to be.”

I’m excited and will keep you updated…

American Cheese on July 4

Your perfect  square shape. Your plastic wrap so satisfying to open.  Your perfect stickiness to the roof of my mouth. Your reliable, consistent, comforting, fake taste. You make me feel so……American.

American Cheese

American Cheese

According to the great blog, Cheese is Alive:

“American cheese has a legal definition. It is legal for it to have as little as 51% cheese . The rest is emulsifiers, enzymes, coloring, pixie dust , eye of newt and a wee pinch of despair. Velveeta is less than 51% cheese. I don’t know what’s in Velveeta. My guess is unadulterated evil and the tears of the innocent, but I could be wrong.”

American Cheese, according to Wikipedia, has the following origins:

British colonists began making cheddar as soon as they arrived in America. By 1790, American cheddars were being exported back to England. The British referred to American cheddar as “American cheese,” or “Yankee cheese,” and post-Revolution Americans promoted this usage to distinguish the exports of their proud new nation from European cheese.[3] For example, an 1878 newspaper article in The New York Times lists the total export of American cheese at 355 million pounds per year, with an expected growth to 1,420 million pounds[4].

Originally, the British considered American cheese inferior in quality; still, it was relatively cheap, so it sold. This connotation of the term American cheese became entrenched in Europe even after the Americans began producing quality cheese. Another article from 1878 mentions that the high quality American cheese is usually re-labelled under European names after export, with only low grade cheese retaining American labelling in Europe[5]. It also states that even in the United States quality American cheese is often relabelled, etc, and that this situation is a detriment to the reputation of American cheesemakers. This practice may be in part responsible for the name “American cheese” being synonymous with bland, low quality cheese[6].

“American Cheese” continued to refer to American cheddar until the advent of the processed cheese that now commands the title. Meanwhile, Americans themselves referred to their cheddar as “yellow cheese” or “store cheese,” because of its popularity and availability. Sometimes it was called “apple-pie cheese,” after its common pairing with that other iconic American food.[3] By the 1890s, once cheese factories had sprung up across the nation, American cheddar was also referred to as “factory cheese.” And in the 1920s another slang term arose for the still popular cheese: “rattrap cheese,” or “rat cheese.”[7]

The Oxford English Dictionary defines American cheese as a “cheese of cheddar type, made in the U.S.” and lists 1804 as the first known usage of “American cheese,” occurring in the Frankfort, Kentucky newspaper Guardian of Freedom. The next usage given is in 1860 by Charles Dickens in his series The Uncommercial Traveller.[8]

For More on American Cheese, visit the great blog: after cheese comes nothing.

Happy 4th of July and enjoy some REAL cheese!