By Raleigh-Elizabeth. Photo by Lindsey Johnson.
I love cheese. It might be because I think of cheese as smelly, curdy nectar of the gods, or maybe because I was born in the midwest and am therefore entitled to wear cheese on my head in nationalistic celebration. Truly, there is little in this world that I love like I love cheese.
I love it so much that I read Saveur’s description of a pizza with stracciatella di burrata and immediately found myself wanting to weep (that such a beautiful thing exists) and visibly salivating (because it should exist in my mouth right away). If you’ve ever had burrata, which they describe as “silky-soft sacks of mozzarella filled with straciatella, strands of mozzarella bathed extravagantly in cream,” you understand where I’m coming from. Cutting into a ball of freshly made burrata causes you to write about cheese like it’s high poetry. And maybe join a gym.
I love cheese so much I can’t live without it. And because our local Food Lion in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina doesn’t sell a ricotta that resembles anything close to actual cheese, I find myself making it at home on a regular basis.
Because I love lasagna. And I love pizza. And I love forkfulls of fresh ricotta between meals when no one’s watching. And all of these things require ricotta. I love eating it when it’s still hot and slathering it on some fresh bread with olive oil and a little salt. I make it in the morning for dinner and then realize around five p.m. that I’ve eaten half of what I meant to cook with later. I can’t help it. This is what happens when you start making cheese.
Cheese making inspires you in all sorts of ways.You find yourself adding it to fruit in ways you never thought possible (I make a ricotta, peach, and pistachio trifle that I drizzle with honey and a dash of maldon salt). You bring it to friends in present-form, causing them to either love you forever or maybe wonder if you’re becoming Amish. You become the happy sort of cheese person who sniffs the offerings at Whole Foods with great intent before asking the cheesemonger 30 detailed questions about the cheese’s provenance. And then you decide you’re going to have a go at making your own version, after all.
Ricotta can be made with a little milk, cream, salt, and lemon juice, but there are dozens of kits so simple that you can start your cheese making process at home right away and have a gourmet, finished product in no time. I like this mozzerella and ricotta kit — it’s beginner friendly and comes with fool-proof instructions. You can also be brave and make your own cheddar, goat cheese, and even burrata.
But if you find yourself making the burrata, don’t forget to let me know. I’ll be over in five minutes flat, and I promise to compliment your efforts with a web of words that would border on high poetry — if my mouth weren’t so full of cheese.
Have you ever tried making cheese? Or any other foods from a DIY kit? My husband loves beer-making kits, although I think the process might be more enjoyable than the product!
P.S. — You’ve made your cheese and invited us all over for a nibble. Here are a few tips for setting up a genius cheese board before we arrive!