Book Review: Everyday Cheesemaking

“How to Succeed Making Dairy and Nut Cheese at Home”
K. Ruby Blume [Microcosm]

Whenever I read a book or a zine, I learn something—not necessarily a life-altering philosophical truth, but facts, knowledge, information. Like, for example, I did not know that you could make milk and cheese from nuts. I’ve heard of almond milk, of course, but I’ve never given it much thought and I did not know that you could make milk and cheese from other nuts as well. Now I know this and a whole lot more about raw and pasteurized milk, animal husbandry, ethical dairy and how to make your own cheese everyday and, it’s all thanks to K. Ruby Blume and her book, Everyday Cheesemaking.

K. Ruby Blume spent years as an activist. She hit the streets with signs and puppets aloft and protested nukes, war and income disparity. There came a point, however, when she started questioning the effectiveness of her actions. She wondered just what she was accomplishing with her signs and street theater antics. Blume decided instead to use her considerable skills and talents to teach, empower and encourage people to take back a little more control of their lives by becoming more self-sufficient. In this seemingly small way, big changes can be the result.

Blume teaches cheesemaking, among other things, at the Institute for Urban Homesteading, which she founded in 2008. The purpose of the Institute is to teach people how to live a meaningful and sustainable live in an urban setting, which in her case is the Bay Area of Oakland and Berkeley. Her work there has borne the fruit that is this guide. Blume’s comprehensive, step-by-step instructions can help anyone make cheese. The process is not as complicated as you might think but it does require the use of specific tools and ingredient, all of which are outlined in the guide.

The book begins with some schooling on the history of milk production, the original reasons behind pasteurization, the benefits of consuming raw milk, the harmful effects of factory farming and the ethics of animal husbandry in the more traditional sense where a symbiotic relationship is created between human and beast. Cheesmaking 101 begins the discourse on the creation of a variety of different dairy cheeses. Vegan? That’s fine, no worries there, the last section of the book deals with making cheese with nut and seeds.

So I learned a few things by reading this guide to making cheese at home, but will I actually make cheese at home? I might, I might not. You may or may not give it a go yourself, but this is a good book to have should the need for homemade cheese inspire you to break out the cheese cloth and curd knife.

Chris Auman

Chris Auman is a freelance writer, musician and comic & zine creator based in Madison, Wisconsin. He cooks part-time at the vegetarian Green Owl Cafe in Madison when he is not writing about cooking, biking, music, comics and whatever else interests him that day.

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