The first cheese I ever made was in high school. It was a quick and simple paneer for a buttermilk chickpea curry that was not at all a quick and simple curry. The paneer turned out great and I was amazed at how easy it was — store bought milk, a little bit of lemon juice, some cheesecloth and a little weight and patience. Turns out 36-year-old Portlander Claudia Lucero started her trail of cheese discovery exactly the same way. She was working at an Indian restaurant in high school when she decided to try her hand at paneer — her first homemade cheese.
Toward the end of writing my book I found out about Claudia and her company Urban Cheesecraft founded in 2008. I’d contacted the good folks at Mirador Community Store and co-owner Steve Hanrahan told me that they’d added something new to the large DIY cooking side of the shop — a cheesemaking section. The bulk of the new section is Urban Cheesecraft kits that look a little something like this…
Each kit makes up to 10 batches of cheese and includes items such as instructional booklets, cheesecloth, citric acid, dairy thermometers, vegetable rennet and cheese salt. You can find Urban Cheesecraft kits in town at the Urban Farm Store, Alberta Coop, Food Front, New Seasons, Foster & Dobbs, Mirador Community Store, Montavilla Farmers Market and other locations and you can also purchase them online.
If you like the idea of making your own cheese but would rather take a class than self school sign up for one of Claudia’s cheesemaking classes or demonstrations. Check out the website for more information about both.