Back in college (’02?) I visited a friend of mine who had just finished bottling a batch of homebrewed beer he had cooked and fermented in the previous weeks. Not only was I shocked that one could make their own beer with minimal effort (he was an engineering student after all) but that you could do it in your own apartment…in the closet no less!
After asking him all of the questions I could think of at the time, I bought a homebrewing kit and a quick “get started” type book from http://austinhomebrew.com/. I made a Pale Ale first, which I bottled too early and most of the bottled exploded during hte conditioning phase (when it’s carbonating itself in bottles).
In the next years, I made quite a few batches, but I never got that feeling of “holy shit, I can’t believe this!” like I did when I saw all of the non-labeled bottles on Eric’s kitchen table.
Last Friday, I made cheese for the first time. Figuring out that I could do this happened after asking for books about appreciating cheese, and being recommended a book about making cheese in your kitchen. Again, I did some quick research, and found out that cheese is as easy as adding two things other than milk, straining, and potentially coating and aging. The two things are acid and rennet.
Acid curdles milk slowly. Rennet is found in infant cow stomach and contains Protease, which coagulates milk. Adding rennet makes curds and whey (like the nursery rhyme). There is vegatable rennet, which is what I used, to help ease people’s minds about murdering baby cows.
I made 2 lbs. of mozzarella in less than 2 hours. It was one of the best tasting things I’ve ever made in the kitchen in such a short time. None of the beer I ever made tasted as good.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about opening a store to sell cheese, beer, vinegar, miso, and other baceteria made processed awesomeness online…which would lead to having a shop or tutorial store to teach these skills to the public. I’ve also wanted to video tape making cheese with friends from Collab21 or elsewhere, to see what their experience was with it.
So, look for some advances on the yeast and bacteria front in the coming months.