In the quest to tackle my top-10 cooking goals for the year, I decided to lead off with making cheese. I recently found a home delivery dairy service from a nearby town in Minnesota that will give me fresh local milk. The dairy is called Stoney Creek Dairy, and they currently offer non-homogenized milk, but they they will be discontinuing the product line in November. Too bad.
So I put in my first (and last) order for my non-homogenized whole milk and just ordered a cheesemaking kit online for making ricotta and mozzarella. In the future I will just have to use regular milk instead of non-homogenized, but I thought I’d try it while supplies last. Getting milk delivered at home is also going to be interesting in an old-school sort of way. They deliver to small towns in the area, and I love the fact they offer to personally put it in your fridge if you are not at home. Now that is small-town service. I just hope the kit and the milk get here about the same time.
I decided to go with a kit instead of buying the supplies locally as I wasn’t sure I could find all of the ingredients on short notice. For instance, I need rennet and I had no clue what that was. After a quick wiki search, I learned that it was a complex of enzymes produced in a mammalian stomach to help digest mother’s milk. You can also get vegetable rennet if you are a vegetarian. At grocery stores you can find a brand of rennet called Junket usually near the Jello, but some say that it isn’t strong enough as it is used in making ice creams and custards instead. And to top it all off, a lot of recipes call for special cheese salt, citric acid, lipase powder and calcium chloride. So it was an easy choice: I bought the kit and now I wait for everything to arrive.
If you wish to purchase cheesemaking supplies you can shop online at cheesemaking.com, leeners.com or thecheesemaker.com. All three have a large selection of products, kits, ingredients and offer help for the novice cheesemaker.
After making making ricotta and mozzarella, I am going to move on to chèvre as there are two goat dairies near to where I live. I will just have to call them up to see if I can buy some milk off of them. I also want to make goat-milk butter, but that is down the road and for now I need to focus on my intro cheeses. Just reading through the eGullet forum gives me an indication that these cheese making kits aren’t quite as easy as they seem, so this should be interesting.
Today I created a local foods page for this site. You can see it in the navigation bar at the top of this website.
It will be a work-in-progress, but right now it includes information and websites for a range of local producers to include: artisan bread makers, yak meat providers, CSAs, orchards, honey producers, cheese makers, and sausage makers.
Most of the farms and producers exist in the corridor between St. Cloud and Minneapolis, Minnesota but I will also add unique specialty food items from other areas of Minnesota too. I won’t, however, list every orchard, CSA, or bread and honey maker in the state. There are just too many.
Please take a look and if you live in the area and know about other local food producers, please send me the information using the contact form.