So last night I made cheese again. I do this from time to time in an effort to get good at doing weird things from scratch. It is not a cost-saving measure--it is about the same cost to make cheese as it is to buy most kinds of cheese. More expensive if I want to do fancy things. So I do it mainly out of the need to know that I can make things from scratch if I need or want to.
The cheese I am making is a farmhouse cheddar, a hard cheese that is supposed to be like cheddar but you don't have to wait 3-12 months to eat it. I have tried hard cheeses occasionally and am always intimidated by them. You won't know if you failed horribly until nearly a year later when you find out "wow, this tastes horrible." Then again, you could be lucky and find out that it is bad because it is bulging out of the wax or smelling horrible. Why do I do this to myself? They are also more involved than soft cheeses like cottage or ricotta, both of which I have actually made successfully.
My dream in all of this is to maybe, someday, make a cheese that is on-par with Kaltbach La Gruyere, a swiss (from Switzerland, not the holey kind) cheese made in awesome cheese-making caves. I will probably never have cheese-making caves to call my own. However, a cheese just as good would be awesome. Unlike with our brewing experiments, however, there is NO "clone" cheese recipe to follow. I did however find an explanation of how they make it at www.swissworld.org/en/switzerland/swiss_specials/swiss_cheese/making_cheese/. Still, it is very unlikely I will ever make something as good. If you have never has La Gruyere, I suggest you march to your local supermarket and get it. Perhaps it will inspire cheese-making desires in you, too. It's pretty damn good.