Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Soy "Cheese" with Louise Dutton

Louise M. Dutton
This is the most inexpensive cheese alternative you will ever eat!

Normally we keep our focus on dairy products (because that's our area of expertise), but we get a lot of questions about how to make "cheese" from soybeans.

Recently, Louise Dutton from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote to us with her own recipes for making soy cottage cheese, yogurt and cream cheese.  She wrote: 

I've attached a doc file with the recipe for making soy cheese, as well as soy yogurt and milk. You can also use this "cheese" in cheesecakes. I use a bit of Mirin in my cheesecake recipe and no one can even tell it's made from soy.  (Mirin is a sweet Japanese condiment.)

Although I have never tried it, I would think that by adding nutritional yeast to the cheese it would make it taste a bit like cheddar. I used to make gallon jars of the milk and put some aside for yogurt and cheese.

I also make my own tofu from this recipe as well. After straining the milk, add nigiri or vinegar to the slurry and it acts much like cheese curds you put into molds, but it's tofu. The tofu "whey" can be used to clean with, cook with, or feed to your plants.

I hope this was helpful. I've been making this for well over 20 years.  The original recipe was from "The Farm Vegetarian Cooking" printed in 1975, but I've added what works for me.

Louise Dutton's Soy Cheese

Take one cup of dried beans, place in a bowl and cover with 4 cups boiling water.

Soak for 2-4 hours, then drain.

Place one cup of the soaked beans in a blender with 2.5 cups of hot water (be careful, start on low speed and work your way up so you don't burn yourself).

Pour into a pot and repeat with the rest of the beans in the same way. Start boiling and skim off the foam.

Boil for 20 minutes while stirring (you don't want it to stick to the bottom and burn or boil over).  Stay on top of it and turn the heat down, maintaining a boil.

Drain through a tea towel.

Squeeze!  Pour a cup or two of boiling water over Okara (soy pulp) to get out any extra "milk."

Pour milk a into jar.  Cool to 90-115F.   

Briskly stir in inoculants (2 tablespoons yogurt or 1 packet of yogurt starter).

Set in a warmed oven (NOT ON!) I warm my oven to 200F before I even start and then shut it off.  The pizza stone retains heat and keeps the oven warm. You don't want the temperature over 118F or it will kill your inoculants).

Let sit overnight or until the yogurt has "set."

Drain yogurt into another clean tea towel and hang to drain.

Once the cheese has drained (4 hours or more depending on the consistency you want) place in a bowl and mix in salt to taste and you have "cottage cheese."

Alternatively, mix cheese, ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp sugar and 2 tablespoons oil in a food processor and process until silky smooth. Place in a mold or container and chill for a couple of hours until it is set. Unmold and voila! You have cream cheese! Better than store bought soy cream cheese and it doesn't contain chemicals or casein.

So what did we learn? One cup of dry soy beans (roughly 75 cents) and lots of patience, will make you one cup of cream cheese.

Personally, when I do this, I make a gallon of milk from one pound of dry beans, use half for yogurt and half of the yogurt to make the cheese. This way I only have to do it once a week.

You can use the milk as you would regular milk in any recipe. You can flavor it to your liking.

You can make ice cream, or frozen yogurt from the yogurt or even cheesecake from the cream cheese!


Making Yogurt and Soy "Cheese"

1 qt. homemade soy milk (or store bought should work too)
2 Tbls of yogurt or one packet of yogurt starter

Heat milk to boil stirring constantly.
Pour into sterile jar and cover.
Cool to 110 degrees (if you touch your wrist to the jar, it should be warm but not burn you)
Add the yogurt or starter and stir briskly until dissolved well.  Cover and incubate for 2-8 hours. I put mine in a just warmed oven. The idea is to keep it as close to 110-115 degrees as possible for as long as possible in order for it to set. You'll know it's done if you tilt the jar and it separates cleanly from the side of the jar.
Put the yogurt you just made into a cheese bag or make a bag from cheese cloth and hang it for a few hours so the whey drains out of it.

Cottage "Cheese"

Sprinkle with salt and break up.

Cream Cheese

1 cup of the yogurt cheese
2 Tbls oil
1/8 tsp. salt
½ tsp sugar

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth, pour into a bowl or mold and chill for a couple of hours until it is firm.


1 cup of organic soybeans
Optional ingredients (vanilla, almond extract, maple syrup)

Pour 4 cups of boiling water over the beans and soak for 4 hours.
After the soak, rinse them. Place 1 cup of soaked beans into a blender with 2½ cups of boiling water. Blend to a very fine slurry and pour contents into a large heavy pot that won't burn easily. Repeat until all the beans have been processed in this way.

Cook the mixture in a heavy pot set over medium high and bring to a boil stirring frequently. Watch the pot very carefully. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and boil for 20 minutes. Be careful, it will boil over in a heartbeat. Strain the milk over a colander lined with cheesecloth over a 1 gallon pot or bowl or other container. Once you've strained it all, press the pulp  and twist the bag to extract as much milk as possible from it. Be careful! It's HOT! Reopen the bag and pour another 2 cups of boiling water over the pulp to extract any milk left and repeat pressing process. The pulp that is left over is called Okara and can be used in other recipes, like "soysage" (yum).
Pour your milk into its final container and add a few drops of vanilla extract, almond extract and maple syrup until desired flavor is achieved. Start with ½ tsp of each.

The faster you cool the milk, the longer it will keep. It should keep for 4-5 days.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Betty Kriel in West Texas

Betty Kriel having a picnic near the McDonald Observatory
She was inspired to learn how to make cheese while living in South Africa ...

Betty and Herman Kriel live at an observatory!  The McDonald Observatory is a research unit of the University of Texas at Austin, with facilities located in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.  This observatory is one of the world's leading centers for astronomical research.  Herman manages the Hobby Eberly Telescope (HET).

Betty and Herman are both from South Africa.  After they were married, they lived for a time at the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) in Sutherland.  (Betty's used to living "in the middle of nowhere" because observatories are often located in remote areas where the skies are darkest at night.  The views are breathtaking, so, of course, she wouldn't have it any other way!)

A view of the valley from the McDonald Observatory

The 107" Harlan J. Smith and 82" Otto Struve telescopes located on 6,800-foot Mt. Locke

Hobby-Eberly telescope on 6,600-foot Mount Fowlkes

Herman on his first visit to the HET telescope in 2006.

How did you get started making cheese?

We arrived in Texas at the end of February, 2009.  I started making cheese last year around September. Got the cultures and recipe books in June and then was too scared to start immediately. Had to get my head around it first.

I was always interested in making cheese (Bets, a Dutch lady whom I got to know living on our mini-ranch outside Pretoria got me interested, but I never had the time before moving to the USA). I was browsing the internet on how to make cottage cheese at home and stumbled upon Ricki’s book and website and decided that was it – I just had to start making cheese…..and I’ve not stopped since!

Betty's kefir grains being re-hydrated.  (We first got to
know Betty when she responded to our question in the
Moosletter about where to buy kefir grains.)
What kind of cheese are you making?

I make all sorts of cheese - soft, hard, waxed, stinky ones, etc.. I have three books from which I make cheese (including Ricki's - hers was the first one I purchased and it looks like it's an antique, having been used so many times - I've made most of her recipes).

I haven't ventured into concocting my own recipe(s) yet. Safer to stick to the trusted and tested ones for now. I've had a couple of flops (well many actually, especially when I started off making cheese - which the Javelina got to try) but also many that turned out fine. I usually give away samples to friends to taste and they give me their honest opinion.

Here, I'm pressing cheese with my molds cut from large protein powder containers and using training weights with a wooden stick in the middle clamped to the kitchen cupboard doors with C-clamps. The weights rest on a wooden follower (which you cannot see in this picture). I have a proper press on my wish list at the moment.

Lately I've stuck to waxed cheeses as those require the least babysitting, wet nursing and nappy changing afterwards (we sometimes travel and then I'm away for up to a week and can't look after the washed rind types properly). We also love Camembert and Brie - I usually make large batches of these and give them away as little treats to friends, too.

As I don't have access to fresh farm milk (would love to own a cow somewhere) and/or goat and sheep milk, I make everything from store bought cow's milk. We live at the McDonald Observatory which is in the middle of nowhere, so access to fresh milk is limited (well, really non-existent).

Mats drying off in the oven (set on 170F) after being washed.  This dries and sterilizes them at the same time.

How did you begin making cheese?

I started off last year around September with a Swiss cheese (yes, I know - should have chosen a safer option as a first cheese - but then I always tend to jump into the deep end first).

Well, as it happened, we were off to Austin for a week when this cheese was supposed to be pampered on the kitchen counter and wiped with a cloth dipped in brine. I took the cheese with me to the hotel and did what had to be done there. You can imagine what the room smelled like and what Cleaning Services probably thought of this! But the cheese survived and was very good when we had it eventually.

I also love home made butter (from store bought cream) - I started making our own butter many years ago when we still lived near Pretoria in South Africa. I also always use a traditional butter churn which we got as a wedding present from a Dutch couple in South Africa and a butter press that I bought from an antique shop over there. It brings back happy memories when I use it.

How are you aging your cheeses?

I went (probably a bit) overboard as we don't have a basement in our house and I sometimes have quite a few and different cheeses aging all at once. So I have one fridge which runs at around 45-48F and an old one I got for free through our local Freecycle group and which runs at around 50-55F with the help of an external thermostat. These are both standing in our study and of course, opening them sometimes makes the study smell really cheesy! Hubby knows he just has to live with this if he wants to keep eating cheese!

The "old free" refrigerator running on an external thermostat

The newer fridge which is set at a colder temperature

Her other hobbies ...

During the process of interviewing Betty, she mentioned  a "few" of her other activities.  (Isn't it amazing how interesting cheese makers are?)

I'm into jewelry making but still trying to set myself up again here in the USA in Herman's garage. Had to replace several pieces of equipment when we moved here, e.g. my gas set and workbench, etc. Will hopefully start creating something again early next year.

Here's a picture of what I did with large
used coffee filters.  I painted them to look
like lavender bushes.  I love lavender!

I also play around with silver art clay from time to time and make beaded jewelry. Then I ventured into making little half-body dolls (I call them thimble dolls - long story and started with my mom collecting thimbles.) last year and wooden wash peg dolls (presently doing my first batch). I also do stained glass (have made a few lamps), do needlework (make clothes for myself), do teabag art (pic below), make chocolate, paint a little, make wind chimes and murals from recycled stuff, etc.

Tea Bag Art

You let the tea bags dry out after using them (obviously spread out from one another and flattened a bit - takes a day or two) and then make a small incision on one side and get rid of the leaves (I mostly throw the leaves onto my plants outside for compost). I iron the bags to straighten them out. I'm now doing a tray and a bowl with the tea bags - using mod podge to glue the bags onto the pieces. There are so many things you can do and make from the tea bags.

Regarding the different tea bag sizes - our rooibos ones are normal sized (like American standard bags), then I also get larger ones from the visitor center here on site (which they use in the cafe) and the long thin ones are those that have been stapled and folded double (I take out the staples and stretch them out).

Monday, December 19, 2011

Making 50 Medieval Cheeses - Kimetha Loidolt

Kimetha as Waldetrudis von Metten
For those of you who don't happen to be historians, that's from 600-1600AD (a few years ago!)

Kimetha Loidolt (also known as Waldetrudis von Metten) is a longstanding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), a non-profit group with over 50,000 members world wide.  They basically re-create the Middle Ages and their research helps folks imagine what the world was like in those days.  Kimetha has been active in it for over 20 years.

Five years ago, the group issued the A&S 50 Challenge which involves doing 50 things in the Arts and Sciences between May 1st, 2007 and May 1st, 2015, in honor of the SCA's 50th birthday.  Kimetha decided to make 50 types of cheeses that she could authenticate in literature from the Middle Ages.

She didn't decide to do this "out of thin air."  Her great grandmother taught her how to make butter when she was a child and when she was 14, she milked her Aunt Bessie's cow.  So, by 2007, she had been making butter for 37 years and she was ready to try making cheese.

Of course, at the time she had no idea how much she would enjoy it.  At this point, it's only 2012, and she's already made 44 of the cheeses on her list.  By 2015, she estimates she will have made and documented 60!

We first found Kimetha at her wonderful blog,  If you start at the beginning in September, 2010, you can follow her progress (cheesewise) in her posts.

There's a lot of great information about present day cheese making and, also, of course, it's history.  She recommends books and videos and she supplies links to articles she likes.

Kimetha and her husband, Marcus

At this point, she's a master home cheese maker and a teacher of classes.  In a post about her philosophy, she says,

"What I like best about making cheese and dairy products is that it has allowed me to give others a good understanding that without the basic building blocks of medieval life (in this case dairy products) much of the other arts we practice could not happen. 

I have heard a number of times - your cheese or butter is great but not that showy.  I respond that is the idea - soft cheeses were one of the primary sources of protein of the working class.  

It was by selling their surplus dairy products (butter & cheese) that they earned extra income.  With out these basic dairy products, much of the soft cheeses & butter used in cooking could not happen.  So, it may not be showy but without it daily life in the Middle Ages would not be the same."

Demonstrating making butter and draining new cheese

Where did you get your medieval name?

Waldetrudis von Metten is a persona I portray in our reenactments (like Civil War groups).  I did a lot of research on my areas of interest and developed a bio for her based on that research. Her interest in cheese would have been a skill that she would have practiced in a monastic community.

Marcus and Kimetha at their wedding ceremony in April, 2010

Where do you get your milk?

I purchase my raw milk at a local farmer's market from Homestead Heritage, LLC.  This is a Mennonite farming family who also use their milk to make cheese.  In Indiana there are only 3 ways to get raw milk: 1. Buy a share in the animal plus pay an up keep fee, 2. Buy raw milk with a label stating "Not for Human Consumption", 3. Own or have a friend who has animals that you can get milk from.

One of the oldest sources of information about
cheese in the Middle Ages

I don't have a label in front of me but it says "For Animal Use - Not For Human Consumption."  The gallons are just like what you would buy from your corner market with sealed caps.  Their cows and milking facilities pass regular inspections since they make cheese and butter at their farm and sell it on the internet and at several local Farmers Markets.  It is unfortunate that in order to comply with Indiana law they must place that wording on their labels.

Blueberry cheese

I am currently researching cheeses made from sheep's milk and plan on trying these next.  I joined several dairy groups on Yahoo.  One is

Through this group I was able to connect with a sheep dairy in Adrian, OR.  They freeze their milk and sell it to local cheese makers.  My husband and I also have Shetland sheep but are looking into getting milking Dorset's in the spring so I can have a source of fresh sheep milk for making my cheese.

12th Night in Chicago, IL-Craft Persons Faire, 2011

How do you make your living?

I work for a company that makes door frame parts for Toyota (Edinburgh, Indiana).  My main job involves Quality Control for new projects.  Making cheese is something I do for fun and as a hobby.

Actually it is a labor of love that has grown to a consuming passion.  It is true I do not make my living at this and I have lost count of the number of times someone has said "why are you not selling your cheese?"  The simple answer is I love making cheese, and researching the history of cheese.  When it starts becoming a chore because it is a "have to" instead of a "want to," I am afraid it would stop being fun.

So I make my cheese for myself, for friends as gifts and I keep my batches small.

Where do you teach your classes?

Twice a year the SCA "Society for Creative Anachronism" the area within the group known as the Middle Kingdom ( hosts a RUM, or Royal University of the Midrealm, a day university featuring a myriad of classes in a vast array of topics. Normally RUMs travel around the kingdom so as to ensure each region gets one every couple of years.

The two classes I taught were "Cheese Preservation" and "Hard Cheese 101."  Both of these classes are focused on how cheese was made and preserved in the Middle Ages.

Supplies ready for class
Showing students where to buy supplies (our catalog)
Class in session
Showing natural rind and waxed
Dill cheese, green cheese, garlic cheese
Brie, Mozzarella, Gouda, Camembert
Sampling cheeses at the end of the day

See Kimetha's blog -