Author Topic: Makin' whey in West Michigan  (Read 2343 times)

Offline Zinger

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Makin' whey in West Michigan
« on: March 25, 2009, 07:19:13 PM »
I've been wanting to give cheese making a try for a few years and have finally gotten around to it. I've spent a lot of time here since I discovered the forum and appreciate all of the information that I've gleaned thus far. I've been playing with Cheddars and tonight made my first foray into Parmesan. Can't wait until I can get my mouth around my first bite of one of those cheeses. I'm prepared to be disappointed, so success would be a welcome surprise. Whatever the results, it will be a learning experience/


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Offline Cartierusm

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2009, 07:24:43 PM »
Welcome, sounds like you're off to a good start. Post pics when you get time in the right sections, I'm sure we'll all love to see some.

You've picked two of the hardest cheese to get correct. But once you master them you'll have no problem repeating the results.
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.

Offline Zinger

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2009, 07:36:20 PM »
Naturally, I always start out with the toughies. I've actually done three Cheddars and seen a difference in the process each time.

The Parm is going great so far, but I admit that even though the curds were a great consistency and had the nice nice squeak they didn't get to the size of a grain of rice. More the size of a pea - we'll see.

Practice makes perfect!

Offline Cartierusm

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2009, 07:44:37 PM »
They don't always get that small if you don't cut them up from the beginning to the correct size. The texture is more important than the size, up to a point of course.

Is your avatar your house?
Life is like a box of chocolates sometimes too much rennet makes you kill people.

Offline John (CH)

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2009, 08:19:55 PM »
Howdy Zinger, welcome to the forum, nice house avatar!


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Offline Zinger

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2009, 08:28:38 PM »
The house is our attempt at getting back to nature and I thought that it represented the potential cheese artisan in me. We bought it for our weekend get-a-way in Northern Michigan. It never has had indoor plumbing so we are enjoying rehabbing it and redoing the chicken coup into a guest house. It has a wonderful stone basement that my wife keeps insisting should be my cheese cave. But, the mice and bugs would wreak havoc with my aging cheese. Best use it for a wine cellar after all northern Michigan produces some great wines.

Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2009, 08:36:14 PM »
Welcome aboard Zinger. Good luck with your parm!

Offline Captain Caprine

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2009, 10:28:54 PM »
Hi Zinger and welcome,
Man, I would listen to the wife if you can any way make that basement work.  I would kill for a setup like that for my cheese, but they don't believe in basements here in California, for the most part.  Where in the UP is your get away located?  I used to do quite a bit of fishing in Iron County.
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Just once...
I want to make cheese with no border collie hair in it!!!

Offline Zinger

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2009, 12:00:48 PM »
Actually by Nothern Michigan I meant northern lower pennisula. We are located in the Leelanau Pennisula a 1/2 hour north of Traverse City. The basement would be great if you have any suggestions about keeping the critters out.

Offline shoelessone

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2009, 04:09:42 PM »
So wait, are you in "West Michigan" as in what many would consider West Michigan, i.e. Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, etc?

I'm in Grand Rapids, I'd love to find some fellow cheese makers in the area!

Hello!


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Offline Zinger

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2009, 08:19:42 PM »
Hey another Grand Rapidian Cheese aficionado.:D To be more specific I hail from Grandville. Are you getting your supplies locally? The only place I know of in the area is Siciliano's on Lake Michigan Drive, but then again I am a newbie and it just may be that I haven't found other resources.

Offline shoelessone

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2009, 09:30:36 PM »
Wow, that's awesome!

More specifically, I'm from Jenison :) - I'm probably like 5-10 minutes away from you :)

Ah, I have to say first of all, I'm a very enthusiastic newbie - I've been making cheese for all of a week or two, reading about making cheese for about a month.  My library is growing :).

If you read my intro thread (which I think you replied to, I just haven't gotten there yet :)) you'll see I had 3 failed cheeses before I decided it was my rennet without question.  My first rennet (Junket tablets) I ordered from Amazon, because I couldn't find any at any of the health food stores (I called 4 or so of them around here).  I happen to be on walmart.com and somehow realized they had Junket tablets, but only at the store on Alpine (30-40 minute drive for us obviously), but I made the drive and sure enough, $1.48 for a box of rennet!

So, Siciliano's is news to me - I'll have to check it out - it's not specifically a cheese making supply store is it (can't be that lucky)? 

Howdy neighbor!

Offline Zinger

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2009, 11:04:17 AM »
Wow, we are neighbors. I am suspecting that your potential source for raw cow's milk is Lubbers out on Luce or else Greenfield's (I think that is what it is called) out in Coopersville. The problem with using them for a source of milk is that you need to buy a "cow share" at $200 and then a weekly fee of $12 for which they will supply you with two gallons of milk a week. That's not that bad if you can use that much milk which I would right now but not on an ongoing basis. Maybe with your connection, you can get around that. I don't really mind using raw milk. With the addition of calcium chloride to pasteurized milk, I haven't had any problems. Also, I know that in Byron Center there is a lady who raises goats and makes cheese, at some point I need to stop there to see about some goat's milk.

Siciliano's (not sure of the spelling) is a great market on the corner of Lake Michigan Drive and Collingdale. You have to check it out. They have limited cheese making supplies, but they do have the cultures, starters, some books and a couple of molds. They are a market that sells a phenomenal selection of beers from around the world as well as liquor. But they also sell cigars, supplies for beer making, wine making, teas and a lot of other cool related items. It's a great place to get lost in for a little while. Although they have the ingredients for cheese making, they don't have a lot of equipment. If you come across a local source for equipment, let me know. If you go there don't be shy about going through the swinging door in the back and then into the cooler, that is where the cultures and rennets are and it is comon place for customers to help themselves back there. Your also likely to see some aging cheeses back there. I don't know if that is a service they offer their cutomers or if those are their own cheeses.

I too am a newbie to cheesemaking. So far I have done 2 Farmer's Cheddar's, 1 Traditional Cheddar, 1 Parmesan and Sunday I did a Traditional Cheddar pressed with Merlot. When I first tried cheesemaking a couple of years ago, I followed a recipe on the internet that called for using Junket. After two or three failed attempts I gave up. Then after discovering Siciliano's and buying a book by Ricki Carroll I used some "proper" rennet and have had all my cheeses form curds and press nicely. It will be a 2 or 3 months before I know if they actually turned out. Patience, patience, patience!

Although I understand that Ricki Carroll's book may have some errors, I would suggest that you pick up a copy and check out her recipes.

Good luck and keep us apprised of your progress. We all learn from each other.

P.S. Where will your girl friend do her student teaching? I'm on the Grandville board. If I can help her, give me a post on "The Lounge Board" and we can discuss it.

Offline shoelessone

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2009, 07:33:00 PM »
It's not lubbers!  I've looked into them, but frankly I can't afford those prices at this point in my life.

Honestly, I'm not sure what the name of their dairy is, and I'm being totally honest.  As I mentioned, it's my girlfriends brothers best friend, I haven't actually met her, just contacted her through my girlsfirneds brother (lots of relationships to keep track of! :)).  I think their farm is somewhere within an hour or two away, and I think they have quite a few dairy cows, but... Not sure exactly.  She said, "whenever she goes home she can bring some milk on the way back, and she can even turn off the stirers if I want more creem" - I guess they keep the milk stirred up in the big tanks to keep the butterfat mixed in evenly, but it's nice to know I have the option to get the milk with higher fat content :) - this would most likely be free, but I'm not sure.  I'm not totally comfortable "using" my girlfriends brother to get me milk and I feel a bit bad about having somebody I don't even know carrying 5-10 gallons of milk around for me - which is why I'll probably wait until I actually have more of a "setup" so I can get some milk once and making something great :).

I will check out Sicilliano's for SURE - I am really excited about it actually!  I looked all over (as I may have mentioned) for rennet (even junket) but couldn't find anything except at Walmart on Alpine.  Dejavu, I think I mention this already :) - anyway, if they have starter cultures that's even better, I'll give them a look for sure, maybe tomorrow!

As for the student teaching thing, she isn't sure yet actually - she's technically an Alma student, however to save money we're living at home this semester.  The point being, Alma only deals with certain schools I believe, and I THINK she will be teaching at one of the more "inner city" schools - in particular there is a school on division or just off of I believe, called "Godwin Heights".  I think she MIGHT be teaching there. 

Do you happen to know a John Teeples?  I think he either is or was on the Jenison School Board - I'm not sure if that's the type of "board" you were talking about, and even if it was I'm not sure if the board members would know each other, but you never know...

I'll keep you posted on my experience with Sicillano's and milk!




Offline Zinger

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Re: Makin' whey in West Michigan
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2009, 08:14:23 PM »
Let me know wha you think of Siclianos after you go there, I think that you'll really like it. Do I know Teeples? I had an email from him today. He's doing some legal work for our district. Good guy.