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The Art of Natural Cheesemaking by David Asher

 
R Ranson
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Summary

Most DIY cheesemaking books are hard to follow, complicated, and confusing, and call for the use of packaged freeze-dried cultures, chemical additives, and expensive cheesemaking equipment. For though bread baking has its sourdough, brewing its lambic ales, and pickling its wild fermentation, standard Western cheesemaking practice today is decidedly unnatural. In The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, David Asher practices and preaches a traditional, but increasingly countercultural, way of making cheese—one that is natural and intuitive, grounded in ecological principles and biological science.

This book encourages home and small-scale commercial cheesemakers to take a different approach by showing them:

• How to source good milk, including raw milk;

• How to keep their own bacterial starter cultures and fungal ripening cultures;

• How make their own rennet—and how to make good cheese without it;

• How to avoid the use of plastic equipment and chemical additives; and

• How to use appropriate technologies.

Introductory chapters explore and explain the basic elements of cheese: milk, cultures, rennet, salt, tools, and the cheese cave. The fourteen chapters that follow each examine a particular class of cheese, from kefir and paneer to washed-rind and alpine styles, offering specific recipes and handling advice. The techniques presented are direct and thorough, fully illustrated with hand-drawn diagrams and triptych photos that show the transformation of cheeses in a comparative and dynamic fashion.

The Art of Natural Cheesemaking is the first cheesemaking book to take a political stance against Big Dairy and to criticize both standard industrial and artisanal cheesemaking practices. It promotes the use of ethical animal rennet and protests the use of laboratory-grown freeze-dried cultures. It also explores how GMO technology is creeping into our cheese and the steps we can take to stop it.

This book sounds a clarion call to cheesemakers to adopt more natural, sustainable practices. It may well change the way we look at cheese, and how we make it ourselves.

image and summary from amazon.



Where to get it?

Chelsea green
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Amazon.co.uk
Powell's

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R Ranson
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Got this from the library today, flipped through it and it looks amazing. How to grow your own starter cultures, how to make rennet, all sorts of amazing things that I've been wanting to know about cheese. So many other books are - buy this and that, then put them together. It's like buying a can of pie filling, and a premade pie crust, and then saying you baked it yourself. This book isn't like that. Looks like it includes fresh cheese, aged cheese, hard cheese, soft cheese, cheese of different milks, and encouragement for trying new and exciting things.

Full review with acorns and stuff to come later.
 
Brian Vagg
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My wife and I have taken a full day cheese making class from David. It was a fantastic class and I recommend to anyone that has an opportunity to take a class from David it is well worth it. His approach to cheese making fits very well with us permies folks. His focus on using raw milk and homegrown cultures is exactly what we were looking for.

We also purchased his book and started making cheeses. The book is very well written and his explanations of his methods are very easy to follow. What I like most about the book is that it is a mix of education and processes and they flow very well with each other. I haven't read the book cover from cover yet so I can't give it an acorn review.

Since we took the class (and got the book) we have made the following products:

cultured butter
kefir
blue brie (still aging)
camembert (still aging)
feta
ricotta
 
R Ranson
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I give this book 9 out of 10 acorns

When I first brought this book home from the library, I opened it up and less than 10 minutes later, I had ordered my very own copy. This book is amazing! I use it several times a week and given how much whey I've spilled on it, I'm surprised the binding and pages can take that kind of abuse. I love it. The Art of Natural Cheesemaking has opened up a whole new chapter in my life. Perhaps the only other author to have this much positive effect on my kitchen and diet is Sandor Katz. Asher's book also inspires me to make changes on the farm - got a goat, gonna get her a boyfriend! There's gonna be a whole lot more cheese soon!

Because this book is so bleeping awesome, I'm going to start by telling you what's wrong with it. It really deserves 10 out of 10, and I think it's nearly there. Only, there's just not enough troubleshooting. If something can go wrong, I'll probably be the one to do it wrong. Why does my kefir smell and taste so yeasty? How come the mold on my crottin is a muddy pastel pink and is this dangerous to eat? What kind of cheese is that wrapped in a maple leaf and is there something special about the time of year for gathering the leaves? How do I make the whey for the fetta not slimy (not the cheese itself, that's fine, but the whey has a cream-like layer on top)? I want to know MORE! Not so much the technical stuff about why something happens, but I want to know if maybe I need more humidity for my crottin, or if my kefir is being left too long between changing. Give me more trouble shooting! If I can't get a lovely mold to grow on my aged chevre, then I'm not confident enough to make an alpine cheese. Pretty please, I have so many questions. Inquiring minds need to know!

There is a small troubleshooting guide in the back of the book, but I don't seem to be encountering the right sort of problems. Maybe it could be expanded in the next edition?

Now we can get to the delicious creamy insides.

This book is incredible!

The Art of Natural Cheesemaking by David Asher, restores to life the old way of making cheese. With a passion for real milk cheese and an impressive mustache, Asher shows us how we can make cheese at home with no fancy equipment, no fancy GMO ingredients. This book teaches us how to make a huge range of cheese from milk, rennet, salt, and kefir. Recipes include dream cheese, chevre, paneer, cotton, feta, brie, blue, alpine, gouda, cheddar, ricotta, and lots of other cheese. Some of the cheeses we eat almost instantly, others can be aged for years. The tools needed to make these cheeses, most of us already have in our kitchen. A cheese press made from two buckets, I used some cheesecloth and a strawberry punnet for making feta, a big pot, a slotted spoon, and that's about it. No fancy equipment necessary, no acid meters, no thermometers, no fancy platinum plated pneumonic presses.


The book begins with an overview of the ingredients and tools we need. Also included is a recipe for making real rennet from a calf or lambs stomach. Asher is passionate about quality ingredients and raw milk.

Next, we move to the simple recipes like yoghurt (including a recipe for making yoghurt from kefir), dream cheese, preserving dream cheese in oil, paneer, and chevre. All of these I've had tremendous success making. My favourite is chevre, but paneer is the favourite in the family (fry up with sesame oil and hot sauce!). The basic rennet cheese is fantastic (but I wonder how to make it more melty). For the more complicated cheeses, I've had some success with feta and the most amazing real ricotta cheese in my life. Oh WOW! It's so good on sourdough toast with cinnamon and sugar. I haven't tried the longer aged cheeses yet, but from reading the recipe, I'm confident I can do it.

This book has a nice range of cheeses from easy going chevre to the more demanding washed rind cheeses. Hard cheese and soft, easy and more challenging. This book is a must have for anyone with a goat, sheep or cow... or anyone who likes cheese. Or anyone who wants to eat real cheese... or well anyone who is remotely cheesy. I'll be recommending this book often and to as many people as I can.



A side note, I've saved about three chickens and a sheep from the brink of death by feeding them the whey from making chevre. I don't know if it's the nutrients, electrolytes, or probiotics, but each animal is alive and thriving. If it can work this kind of mericles on my livestock, imagine what good it's doing for my health. I do feel more energetic since I started making cheese. I never would have started making cheese if it wasn't for this book. mmmm, cheese.
 
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