Having learned a new set of skills early this week is something that I am very much happy to share about with you in this blog. I, together with other members of the press, were fortunate to be part of a Cheese 101 and Cheese Making Workshop sponsored by Real California Cheese. This was facilitated by cheese dude, Chef Mark Todd at Back of the House, Katipunan, a third party kitchen.
Here’s a fan fact for you guys: California is actually the leading milk producer and largest farming state in America. They have been producing cheese for more than 200 years now, so it’s not surprising to know that California cheese is being made under the highest quality standards.
In the said event, Chef Mark Todd, a consultant for various dairy organizations in America and a speaker of it all over the world, taught us in length about the different varieties of cheeses. I was lost for awhile on how extensive the discussion was.
The highlight however, was getting the media to process how one can make cheese and butter from scratch. We did achieve these after much patience and effort, thanks to my two other team mates, who did most of the task at hand. Apparently, some of the groups were unsuccesful. Chef Todd emphasizes that luck sometimes swings the other direction when it comes to making cheese.
For the homemade queso blanco, it was made up of milk, apple cider vinegar, and kosher salt. In a large stock pot, we heated up the whole milk and stirred it constantly. Then we mixed in the vinegar and let it sit there for 10 minutes. At this point, the curds are now separating from the whey. We used a strainer to place the curds over a bowl. After this, we pressed the cheese into a mold and drained it for an hour. And voila, our very own cheese creation minutes after. Seeing it with our very eyes was bliss.
Do you actually know why there are so many varieties of cheese in the market? According to Chef Mark, it isn’t only because there are different types of milk used to make them. In making cheese, it can’t be helped if there are inconsistencies in the methods followed during the preparation. The different processes done in making cheese is one of the reasons why there are varieties of cheese produced every day, some of it through accident even.
So aside from making the homemade quezo blanco, we have also learned how to prep homemade butter. We only used just one ingredient, which is heavy cream. Although one can have it produced via mixer, Chef had us do it the hard way- shaking it for 30 minutes inside a tight glass jar. After much hand exercise, straining and seasoning with salt, we got our finished product, a creamy fresh butter!
As a reward for these accomplishments, we got to pick four different cheeses that we can try and indulge on. Can’t imagine any other great thing to have after all that talk about cheese!
If you’re interested to avail California dairy products, you may get them at leading supermarkets nationwide, including Rustans, S & R, Robinson’s Supermarket, and SM. Or if you wanna know more about Real California Milk, visit their Facebook page at Real California Milk, or their website, www.realcaliforniamilk.com.