http://www.cheesemaking.com/ for Christmas. Yay, me! I went to a seminar at the MENF in September and the speaker recommended this company. The kit he bought was VERY affordable and not intimidating at all: http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/p/167-Ricki-s-Basic-Cheese-Making-Kit.html.
After reading over the directions about a dozen times, I borrowed a stainless steel pot from my friend Suzi (my next investment), bought some milk and rolled my sleeves up. What's the worst that could happen? Right? The feta cheese was simple to make but the process did involve many hours which worked out perfectly because I was still off work yesterday. When we finally drained the cubes this morning they have a perfect texture, although a little on the salty side. The recipe calls for letting the cheese set for a day or two at room temperature and then storing at 50 something degrees or in a light brine. I'm going to see how the cheese tastes tomorrow and if still too salty hopefully the water will draw some of the salt out.
Yesterday's feta was so successful that I felt ambitious again today. But being a work day (I'm an elementary school librarian) I didn't have the hours to dedicate to some of the cheeses in my kit, but I thought I'd give some mozzarella a whirl. All this depended on being able to find citric acid.... score! At the Amish store in Lexington (http://youtu.be/nHAAyM4198o) I was able to find a small amount of citric acid for just a couple bucks. I pulled up the Cheese Queen's 30 min. recipe: http://www.cheesemaking.com/howtomakemozzarellacheese.html. Note: there is a disclaimer on the top of the recipe that stresses the importance of local milk for mozzarella. Too late for that since it was already close to dinner and it's a school night, so I used what I had. All went well, but I should have heeded Cheese Queen's advice. The mozzarella had trouble holding the curd and the consistency turned out more like ricotta. Still delish, but a little unexpected. That's o.k., because I'm still learning. And, we get to eat the mistakes.
The next time I think I will opt for http://www.homelandcreamery.com/, a local milk producer next time. The cost is not really a problem ($5) but I have to think ahead because the nearest store that sells it is about 10 miles away. Now, I just can't wait until SATURDAY!!! Yes, that's because I will have some time to try out the cheddar recipe. Now that I've gotten over the initial fear, I'm looking forward to more adventures in cheese as well as trying my own yogurt. I found an easy tutorial at this site: http://www.makeyourownyogurt.com/, but I'm open to suggestions. I really don't want to invest in a yogurt maker when I already have all of the materials that this site suggests.
But, stay tuned to see what's next....