(Background story: visited home. Long time ago – old school and old’s cool feeling. Favourite place: retro market, smells like pure nature. Lets discover the treasure of the countryside in Hungary…)
Simply the basic. The very very basic. U dont need anything else, but u can make everything of it. U can not even imagine…. your mind probably would block itself half way…. just simply too much.
First rule: ignore the law. Unfortunately u need to avoid lots of stupid instructions and regulations about food producing, hygiene or health and safety. Just because u are hardly able to make any miracle with homogenized heat-treated ‘factory milk’ ( although i have one trick in my pocket later… :).
So make it clear. Start with a big tub of RAW MILK – it does not necessary need to be ‘nipple warm’ – can use any type of milk, what u can extract from a mammal. Probably much easier to find some goat, sheep or cow milk in your market – but i can not see any barrier to try with dog, blue whale or even human milk – the only difference is the ratio between the components of milk. Sooooo… lets do it.
You need to ‘put your milk asleep’… which means to leave the fresh milk in a warm environment for a few days (4-6).
In the meanwhile at the top a thin layer of CREAM gonna generate or i would say separate from the bottom part, which is becoming the CURD.
From this with a gentle heat (55-60°) u can get proper CURD CHEESE and WHEY (from this whey u can even go further warming up to 70-80°with adding some vinegar to reach the very traditional transylvanian orda-cheese).
With the cream – which is nothing else but milkfat – u can make BUTTER and BUTTERMILK* simply to whip the sh*t out of it. However – after a few days, your cream is gonna go sour, thats how u can reach the SOUR CREAM period. Easy and yummy….
If u are not that lucky to have a week free just to play this game or not able to get this ‘magical raw milk’ (no farm or grandma’ with a cow close enough) u can cheat a bit and make a fake cottage cheese. Need nothing else but a hyper-super ordinary pint of milk (even can use those boxes, what u can store in the sun for 8 years and the label says still drinkable) and a big squeeze of lemon juice warming up together. Stir constantly till’ the white solid stuff will separate clearly from the sour liquid – story goes the same, strain wih muslin and leave to dry a bit. I made my own “TÚRÓ RUDI” using this stuff for example – cause the particles are much more smaller and creamier.U dont even need to throw away your ‘fluid fake whey’ after this proccess, in the 18th century big coffee houses used to serve “wine whey cocktail” using milk, wine, boiling water and punch-seasoning.
*Footnote> accidentally invented a fantastic `sweet buttermilk curd cheese` and i gave birth to a magical dessert plate in my mind… but later on. I made a kaffir-lime buttermilk sorbet base and left it in our fridge in the restaurant hoping that i can chum it later with the machine… of course i couldnt, and THANK U SAMUEL!!! not to chuck away, cause after one week the mix separated, ive got a thick cream at the bottom with an unbelivable sweet `rose flavour`… dont ask me how, but from the kaffir-lime, lime and lemon… became rose. Really really really… crazy. :P
Go to a healthy path and make your own YOGHURT. Unfortunately for this challenge u will need some ‘outside’ help, but just once, for starting, and can keep carry on producing yoghurt till’ the end of time. In the factory they warm up the milk to kill the undesirable bacteria (around 80°), cool down to 45° when the culture is added and the fermentation is completed in 4-7hours. Its easier than learning cycling: u will need a lactic acid bacteria to vaccinate your milk (easier way to buy one small yoghurt – what u can use as your graft), mix and leave at room temperature. 2-3 days, and u can get as much stuff as u want. Dont finish the whole – leave a small amount what u can use for the next dose (like one tbsp for a cup).
By the way, after u made your own yoghurt, u can manage to produce your own CREAM-CHEESE:
just leave your yoghurt dropping down all the liquid through a muslin (could be 2 days), the ‘water’ is your yoghurt whey, and after some garlic, chilli or whatever, the white part will be your perfectly fresh cream-cheese. Easy? :)
Another yummy treat is the KEFIR, which is a bit more complex – u need a ‘little pet’ called kefir grains (lactic acid baceria lives in symbiosis with a kind of yeast, forming a funky white sponge shape together). This baby really doesnt need much, just your raw milk (makes it refreshingly, sparklingly sour in 2-3days), after extract the kefir, wash the grains in warm water with plastic strainer (not metal and dont push thru your sieve if u dont want to kill it!!!) and can go to the second round. If u dont want to use it, simply just leave in water (change same times) and it will be your pet for ages.
Last but not least the most favourite milk product… CHEESE!!!!! However, this part of the story is too complex to show u properly every little method, and mostly its a factory work – unfortunately we need to buy these special type of cheese from the supermarkets (unless u have the secret formula and 3-5 years to wait for your own parmigiano reggiano). No worries – i still can show a few realizable way trying at home – u just need to be patient.There are three main modus to create cheese, the start is always raw milk, from this point u can add a special milk coagulating enzyme to start the proccess. Another way to let the milk contact with some kind of acid (vinegar, lemon-juice), the third possibility is the mixture of these two.
The easiest way again to put your acid in the liquid with salt (1l milk needs 1tbsp vinegar and 0.5tbsp salt), heat and stir gently – its gonna be ready before reaches the boiling stage. After needs to strain and time for seasoning as well (it is a fresh cheese, will be ready soon, so think about easy going ‘green’ herb flavours like chive, wild garlic, mint etc. and because its a soft SOFT thing, i would give a go to a sexy crunchyness with some roasted (maybe caramelized) pinenuts, peanuts or cashew nuts to drive everyone nut!!! :) ‘Dress up’ your nicely flavoured baby with muslin and hang up for 1-2days, till most of the juice comig out then change the cloth and press down to give a shape. Important not to leave it in metal or plastic, the best shelf made from wood – dont let the mold attack the cheese and u need to upturn it as well few times. Thats it!
The real rustic way is to make your own milk coagulating enzyme and use as a starter… You dont need anything else, just a bit more time and a small bit of intestine… the best is from a calf, but sheep’s or pig’s is ok if u are really needy. So get your (chopped) intestine with same amount of salt and leave it in your leftover whey (approximately 1kg salt with 1kg intestine enough for 3liters of whey). U leave this thingy for 2 weeks to grow up a lovely little culture, strain, discard the solid parts (if u dont want to make a yummy omlette with :) and then add to your raw milk. 1liter milk needs 0.002liter enzyme.
(OK OK – I DONT WANT TO F*CK AROUND, u dont need to be a proper countryside farmer with plenty of spare-time, it is possible to buy this enzyme from a pharmacy (look for pepsin).
So after buying your pepsin, u warm up your milk carefully (55-60°), add your magic, turn off the stove, stir the mix for a few times. Slowly slowly it is going to be more dense, stiff – its time to make a ‘cross-cut’ on the surface (the light fluid part coming to the top and your solid cheese going to the bottom). Its time to strain, season, dress up etc again…. You can try to leave and dry out for longer time, 2-4weeks normally. Dont forget the wooden ‘board’, turnings and protection against fruit-fly.
I might go mental to think about this that much… but im gonna carry on and trying to make a marriage between milk and cheese… infect the milk somehow with a proper cheese fungal species to create something really new, like a ‘blue milk curd’… just carry on reading us – if u wouldnt mind to try it later on… :)