Is Cheese Making a Cottage Craft?

I’m often asked, “why make cheese when you can buy it in the store?”. The effort put into making cheese doesn’t seem to weigh up, after all, only a small amount of cheese (around 20% or less) can be obtained from a large amount of milk.  In commercial enterprises, the methods and machinery has been synchronised and perfected to the high degree, to ensure that the maximum yield comes from the ingredients and the balance of flavour to please their market. So why bother doing this at home?

Firstly, cheese making from scratch is pretty easy, especially when made on a micro scale. I would not suggest making EVERYTHING from scratch, but for a fairly small effort, you can make something to be proud of, and without really cooking anything – at best, you could say we heat milk and stir in  a few key ingredients.

And to me it’s not about speed or efficiency.  The purpose is to enliven the home, with stirring and waiting and watching while the magic happens. Yes it does take some care and a few bits of “know how” but none of it is too challenging. It is about continuing a grand tradition, and you could claim to be a cottage workshop creating a warm feeling of homeliness.

I recently introduced this craft to a small group of ladies in their home.  They took up the challenge of cheese making and came away with some lovely cheese and enthusiasm for doing more in the future.