Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Joy of Cheesemaking

First of all, welcome!

My name is David Bleckmann, and I am obsessed with home cheesemaking.

That is my tag line. I day dream about launching a web and print media empire around that tag line. However, at 42 years of age I am a bit skeptical of myself. I have had a lot of hobbies over the past decades. Beer brewing, photography, cave exploring, scuba diving, video production, cooking, food science, hunting, and food preservation have all had their share of my free time in the past. Some of my obsessions have been intense, some short, and some long lasting. At this point in my life I find my obsessions change less frequently, so perhaps I will stick with this most recent one a bit longer.

I am excited about cheesemaking. It draws upon a lot of my previous passions associated with food. It is an artisan craft, with many pitfalls, rewards, and problems that take some science to understand and solve. It allows you to make something you previously thought you could only buy in the store. In some cases, you are able to produce a cheese that is not be available for purchase.

Perhaps one of my favorite benefits of being a home cheesemaker is that I now understand where cheese comes from, and the different types of cheese that are traditionally made. I am no longer intimidated at the huge selection of hard to pronounce names at the cheese counter and I can speak intelligently to the cheesemonger. I also now appreciate the work it takes to make cheese in small scale quantities. It suddenly makes sense why a locally made artisan cheese is $20 to $30 a pound, which I am now happy to pay.

I am disappointed with the existing literature on home cheesemaking. Most books I have read seem to cover the basics in the first one to two chapters, then launch into numerous recipes. The more recipes the better seems to be the philosophy. So much so, many books include recipes of what to do with the cheese after it is made, which seems to me to be a way to pad the recipe count. There is very little anthropology or history of the cheeses, or science explaining why the recipe is designed the way it is, and often there are factual errors. There are good technical books that provide good science, but they are usually written for the commercial producer and are not easily accessible to the home cheesemaker.

I am starting this site as a first step towards entering the world of writing, and writing about home cheesemaking. I hope to address the gaps in the home cheesemaking literature I mention above. Perhaps this will be the start of a journey that transforms me into a real writer. I have aspirations, but only time will tell. For now I am happy to post this first blog post on my new site, and see where the journey takes me.


Our family as seen in the Oregonian FOODday, May 05, 2009

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