The Cheese Project

My local surplus store recently had a huge delivery of high quality milk. Local, organic, grass fed, and the best part was they were selling it for 2 bucks per gallon. I went nuts.
Nothing excites me like dirt cheap high quality food. But, TANSTAAFL. The problem with this milk is that at best it’s a week from its sell-by date. Unlike many foods, milk does not stay good much past that date. In my excitement I ignored this important fact and bought 5 gallons. A week later I’d managed to get through half of it and the rest had gone sour.

A little while later I found that they had received more of this milk. This batch was even closer to its sell-by date. I’m unable to ignore a deal like this. So I got to thinking, “how can I preserve this milk?”. Freezing it is good, but that takes up a large amount of space that I would rather use for meat. I could turn it into yogurt but that only extends its shelf life a few more weeks. I’m embarrassed to say it took me a few days to think of the obvious solution. Cheese!

Right now I’m anxiously awaiting a delivery of rennet and a thermophilic culture. The goal of this project will be to produce a hard cheese, like parmesan. If I’m successful, I’ll be able preserve my milk for 6-24 months, depending on how well I do.

This is going to be a fairly complex project. It’s not everyday that I find high quality milk for $2/gal. I’m hoping that overstock from the holiday season will mean my surplus store will have more cheap milk soon. If not I’ll have to do some leg work and find stores with large milk inventories that are close to their sell-by date. If I end up going this route I’ll be sure to write a post on haggling.

After I’ve sourced the milk, I will still have to process it, build suitable storage, and do weekly checks and cleaning. It’ll be awhile before this project is finished but I hope you’ll keep checking in.

Continue to part 2

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