The key to becoming a successful artisan cheesemaker is to develop the intuition essential for problem solving and developing unique styles of cheeses. There are an increasing number of books on the market about making cheese, but none approaches the intricacies of cheesemaking science alongside considerations for preparing each type of cheese variety in as much detail as Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking.
Indeed, this book fills a big hole in the market. Beginner guides leave you wanting more content and explanation of process, while recipe-based cookbooks often fail to dig deeper into the science, and therefore don’t allow for a truly intuitive cheesemaker to develop. Acclaimed cheesemaker Gianaclis Caldwell has written the book she wishes existed when she was starting out. Every serious home-scale artisan cheesemaker―even those just beginning to experiment―will want this book as their bible to take them from their first quick mozzarella to a French mimolette, and ultimately to designing their own unique cheeses.
This comprehensive and user-friendly guide thoroughly explains the art and science that allow milk to be transformed into epicurean masterpieces. Caldwell offers a deep look at the history, science, culture, and art of making artisan cheese on a small scale, and includes detailed information on equipment and setting up a home-scale operation. A large part of the book includes extensive process-based recipes dictating not only the hard numbers, but also the concepts behind each style of cheese and everything you want to know about affinage (aging) and using oils, brushes, waxes, infusions, and other creative aging and flavoring techniques. Also included are beautiful photographs, profiles of other cheesemakers, and in-depth appendices for quick reference in the preparation and aging room. Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking will also prove an invaluable resource for those with, or thinking of starting, a small-scale creamery.
Let Gianaclis Caldwell be your mentor, guide, and cheering section as you follow the pathway to a mastery of cheesemaking. For the avid home hobbyist to the serious commercial artisan, Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking is an irreplaceable resource.
Where to get it?
The subtitle is The Ultimate Guide for Home-Scale and Market Producers
This is a different approach to a cheesemaking book than the collection of recipes in most cheesemaking books. The author sets out to teach the cheesemaker all that's involved in the transformation of milk to cheese. The first section of the book (100 pages) is comprised of several chapters on ingredients, concepts and processes, fundamentals of acid development and monitoring, adding flavors, aging and so on.
There are plenty of charts comparing various brands and trade names of various starters, appendices with charts for making brines of different strengths, for washing, for initial brining or for aging. It is a complete course in "everything you need to know about making cheese" as opposed to a cookbook of exact recipes with precise timelines and exact temperatures.
When Caldwell comes to the recipe section, she groups cheeses by "family" eg: fresh acid coagulated, brined cheeses fresh and aged, white mold surface ripened, and so on. She explains the fundamentals of that family of cheeses. In each family she gives recipes for a few members of that family, both for small batch (~2 gallon) and commercial batch (~12 gallon).
At the end of each chapter, she gives the reader a chance to test his/her understanding by presenting scenarios where things went other than as expected and gives some possible options for what happened, or how to fix it, or how to prevent it next time. These "thinking outside the vat" exercises allow the new cheesemaker to develop an understanding of the process, so that s/he will have the confidence to just make cheese, without having to follow timing to the minute, or temperature to the exact degree, but can let the cheesemaking process be more relaxed.
For me, personally, making cheese several times a week (3.5-4.5 gallons), and doing several other things at the same time, I came to understand that it will still be good cheese even if I get waylaid on the way back from the chicken house, and did not cut the curd at exactly 45 minutes.
It's an excellent book for those who don't tend to follow recipes exactly or want to understand the minutia, or are homesteaders or parents of small children with several processes going at once. You won't get the exact same cheese every time, it will vary in texture, dryness, piquancy, flavor, from one batch to the next, but maybe that's a good thing!
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