I recently got to spend the day making cheese as part of Ballymaloe’s 12 Certificate Course, and what a treat that was.
Ballymaloe had a tiny dairy and are milking 8 Jersey Cows at the moment. They farm organically, so from this lovely rich milk, they make butter, buttermilk, yoghurt and milk keifir.
On the demo day, we made butter by separating the cream from the milk using a separator. The butter was then beaten in a regular food processor until all the cream particles stick together to form butter. The butter is then washed to remove extra buttermilk and then salted and hey presto you have a delicious homemade butter. Rory O Connell then turned his creative hand to this butter and added herbs, spices, and just all round made it look amazing.
We make butter on our cheese making day and it’s a very quick a wonderful process to see and we take you also into the world of lactic butters which is a fascinating area.
Rory went on to make a very simple cottage cheese by just adding rennet ( a coagulant that sticks the milk proteins together, again a very fascinating process. Rory showed us how to drain the cheese and used the curds to make delicious soft cheese creations with garlic and herbs.
He then went on to make a delicious French creation called Coeur a la crème with summer berries.
A delicious combination of his cottage cheese recipe, whipped egg whites and whipped cream formed into a heart shape. I asked him about a substitute for the cottage cheese if you weren’t able to make it, and his reply was well if you cant make the cottage cheese then don’t bother making this recipe!
I went on to go through the steps of making a hard cheese, but you’ll have to come to a class to learn that skill
Rory then went on to do amazing things with Labneh. So Labneh is a soft cheese, similar in texture to cream cheese, made from strained yogurt and very popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. He made some sweet versions by adding sugar and topping with crushed pistachio nuts, sweet geranium leaves and dried rose petals. According to Rory we can easily have dried rose petals by picking the roses on a dry day and spreading them out on a tray in our kitchen for 2 to 3 days. I’m definitely going to give that a try this summer
He then made some savoury options with chillies, anchovies, mint, basil. We got to try all of these over lunch and they were just amazing.
What an array of products from just few hours of mucking around milk.