Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Cheese Maker#3 - Amanda Erickson

Amanda Erickson

You would be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic cheese maker than Amanda Erickson, an architech in Portland, OR.  She loves cheese.  In fact, she can seldom find the time to make it because she loves going to cheese festivals, meeting cheese makers and tasting their cheeses so much.  

How did you get started making cheese?

It all started in 2007, when a friend of mine got a Mozzarella Kit for Christmas. Four of us girls got together and made the cheese.  We had so much fun that we decided to start a cheese blog- FU Cheese (fresh, unpasteurized cheese, of course).  The name is a little edgy, but then my husband and his friends do a blog called BS Brewing.

Note:  Their accounts of their cheesemaking experiences are well documented in their very cute blog.  Amanda wrote this in January, 2009:

Nicole hosted the first cheesemaking day for us and our friends (a truly amazing and diverse group of women) and we made mozzarella and it was pretty darn good. We drank wine and noshed on various goodies and ate the whole thing. We also talked about starting a blog to keep a record of our cheesemaking adventures and misadventures.

I hosted the next event which was dubbed the Weekend of Whey. We did five batches of mozzarella and made ricotta from the whey and also whey bread and whey drinks which, I still contend, are fine and delicious! I recommend a tablespoon of simple syrup, crushed mint, served over ice.

We went out and visited a goat farm and got our first gallons of goat milk. With the two gallons of goat milk we made chevre (I can’t wait to make it again),goat fromage blanc, “french style” goat cheese (little pucks of chevre), goat milk gelato and Sarah took the last pint of it and used it in a chevre ice-cream recipe from “The Perfect Scoop,” David Lebovitz’ inventive ice-cream recipe book. To sum up: you can make a lot of wonderful things with two gallons of goat milk!

We also paired a few goat cheeses with different beers for a tasting which I think went over very well and I’m eager to do that again. If you haven’t figured it out we’re very closely associated with the guys who run and write for the BS Brewing Blog which is over there on the sidebar always so I think we’ll be seeing some more collaboration with them in the future. Does anyone want to start GD Wines and be our friend?

Our last big project was doing a farmhouse cheddar, our first hard cheese. We made a cheese press and got all the necessary ingredients together and aged it for a month. It was quite a production but unfortunately it just didn’t turn out right. That was a little bit of a bummer but we learned so much from the process.

What actually happened with the Farmhouse Cheddar?

Well, a lot of things went wrong.  It got moldy under the wax and when we opened it, the taste wasn’t good- it was bland and there was no aftertaste.  So, we took a class at Kookoolan Farms and learned some reasons why it might have turned out so badly.  As you can see in the picture, we left ridges in the cheese when we waxed it, so that left air pockets under the wax.  Also, we let it sit too long at the wrong temperature before waxing it.  We probably also heated the curds too long when we were making the cheese.  We weren’t very careful . . . I wasn’t surprised when it didn't come out right.

What will you make next?

I was very inspired by the Oregon Cheese Festival at Rogue Creamery last weekend.  I am determined to make more goat cheese and Feta (with both cow and goat milk).  I have so much respect for the people who make cheese- the time and care they put into their craft, and, yet, the product is still so cheap.

What do you like best about making cheese?

It is so much fun to do with friends!  It’s like the best home science experiment!

Amanda is now writing another blog with her husband- Beer Plus Cheese.  She calls her first posting, “Beer + Cheese=Happy.”  (We’ll have to do an article soon about that subject.)

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