I've not seen many threads on home made cheeses and fermented foods and I'm not sure why. I've begun to play with this area of food preservation and I'm absolutely LOVING the results!

For example, I no longer make regular canned pickles because the water in my area causes the pickles to be soggy in addition to new USDA guidelines causing over processing of foods. Additionally, recipes can't seem to get their acts together with regard for correct amount of spices, water and even processes. The Ball Blue book instructions for pickles leave a LOT to be desired when it comes to how to handle a brined cucumber.

I'm now playing with brined fermented cucumbers for pickles and am getting absolutely AWESOME results, and it's a lot easier.

For fermenting, I made my own vinegar from apples this year. Now I want to play with wines too..and beer, eventually distilling liquors.

Finally, to complete the topic, cheeses. Who doesn't LOVE cheeses? Some don't, but if you're a cheese lover, there's nothing like a well made cheese, and it can be very expensive to buy. The cost of milk on the other hand has become very reasonable making cheeses very cost effective if you're in a position to have to purchase milk to make it.

Cheeses are relatively EASY to make, but they can be a bit time consuming. The cultures needed for the various types of cheeses can be difficult to find as most grocery stores simply don't carry the packeted powdered cultures. But the good news is that often times, those cultures are VERY easy to find in any grocery store for some cheese types.

Secondly, hard cheeses need to be aged and to do that, temperature controlled environments are necessary since different cheeses need varying temperatures, and even humidity. It's not like everybody has a cave offering French conditions for Roqford lol! However, modern technology DOES offer wine coolers, teeny refrigerators and even large ones where you can moderate temps for cheeses.

Youtube is a HUGE help for cheese makers/making as I've recently discovered. I didn't know that different cheeses need different curd sizes. I even found a ton of instructions for building a home made cheese press which can be a pricey item to purchase when ready made, as well as lots of fudged up ideas for molds too.

Soft cheeses are very easy to make, and are often ready over night. Things like cultured buttermilk and yogurt are very easy, and the cultures are readily available in any grocery store. There's even a sliceable solid herb cheese that's ready over night and sometimes if you make one cheese, the ingredients are immediately made available for another. Take Ricotta for example. I learned that the word ricotta means 'twice cooked'. When you cut the curd from a pan of cheese, it makes a greenish juice that when separated from the way, gets reboiled. The white stuff that forms on the top of this boiled whey is ricotta! Who knew it???!!

So, this is all a process of discovery for me, and I'm excited by what I'm learning and thought it could be a fun thread over time as it builds with recipes, discoveries and experiences.

I'll post again with something I learned about cultured buttermilk and how to make a mesophillic culture. My knowledge is limited so if anybody has info and teachings...please!!! Add to this thread!

I like simplicity with gourmet results. In otherwords, I have a champagne appetite but less than a tallboy beer budget so do it yourself counts for a bunch.

Oh and wine making. I want to learn that too and I don't want to use packaged wine mixes. How did they make fruit wines in the old days before chemicals were invented? Where can I find calcium carbonate easily? (used for cheeses) Potassium chloride is easy...cream of tarter, or a salt substitute called 'no salt'.

Grapes don't need added nutrients..they are the 'perfect' fruit for wines, and even come complete with their own yeast. No wonder God makes such a big deal about wine..there's an object lesson/pattern there to be had for us. But other fruits need nutrients in addition to yeast. Are there recipes in old books where those nutrients were provided from natural sources without having to resort to a brewery store to acquire them?

Thanks for reading, and I hope we have a fun and useful thread!