In our August, 2014 Moosletter, we offered $25 gift certificates in exchange for essays from young people 18 years and younger. (The offer still stands, by the way and the details are here.)
A few months later, Ethan contributed the following essay:
Two of my favorite things are cooking and cheese. So, when my family attended a cheese making class at a nearby community center, I was intrigued.
At the workshop, a chef taught us how to turn curd made from water buffalo milk into delicious mozzarella cheese. My family and I were excited to learn more, and we ordered some pre-made curd, which we stretched into mozzarella.
Soon after, we organized a group to order the mozzarella-making kits from your company. Our first two batches turned out like ricotta – too wet and not cohesive enough to hold together.
But on our third batch, we made some delicious, stretchy, flavorful mozzarella! The whole process was so fun, simple, and quick that I kept making mozzarella often.
A while later, the local library was running a season of programs based on sustainability and local, homemade food, centered around books like Michael Pollan’s well-known Omnivore’s Dilemma. After a few suggestions I decided to volunteer and demonstrate home cheese making at my own program.
At the program, I talked briefly about how I had learned how to make mozzarella. I explained the process, and some of the science, and I demonstrated making mozzarella with the simple 30-minute recipe. The cheese turned out great, and the program was a success. I enjoyed adding another item to the list of foods we can make at home, with local ingredients, from local suppliers. The sustainability of local and home cheese making is something that certainly contributes to its importance.
One of my favorite things about introducing people to making cheese – which I do often – is demonstrating that even something as “complicated” as cheese can be made at home, often quickly and easily. Many people seem to think cheese making is a specialized art and science which only professionals can do. To these people, it is as if cheese is made by some magical process, unbeknownst to them. And as long as people are allowed to believe this, cheese making will be something only professionals can do.
But by teaching the art and skill of cheese making to everyone we can, people will realize that cheese making can be simple, easy, and fun, and something that everyone can enjoy. So I hope that all cheese makers can spread and share this fantastic, fun skill and show other people how important this art really is, even to those who don’t realize it.
Interview with Ethan
What are you planning to do next year, after you graduate from high school?
I am planning to go to undergraduate school somewhere in the northeast
for engineering physics – and I may study either
electrical, computer or mechanical engineering along the way.
|3D printed icosahedron ornaments Ethan designed for engineering club. The club sold them at the town bazaar as Christmas tree/holiday ornaments.|
Do you live on a farm?
I don’t live on a farm, but I have
chickens and turkeys – 2 turkeys and about 40 chickens. The turkeys are for meat, and the
chickens are for meat, eggs, and show. I don’t show chickens anymore
What are your interests?
My dad and I keep bees (we have 5 hives). I like to run – I do cross
country in the fall and outdoor track in the spring, and I ran a
marathon last February. I like doing 3D design, often as part of my
engineering club. I also very much enjoy eating food (especially
|Selfie taken in New Hampshire with a grey pigeon|
|Mt. Washington Road Race, up the auto road|
|Triathalon in Littleton|
What kind of cheese are you making?
I still make mozzarella. I have also tried parmesan, gouda, and cheddar, but the cheddar was the only successful one, since the others
got too moldy. In terms of easier cheeses, I have also made an
assortment of fresh cheeses, usually queso fresco, lemon cheese,
ricotta, or fromage blanc.
I also once made a gjetost/mysost-type
cheese which turned out pretty well. (Norwegian gjetost is one of my
I have attached a picture of my cheese press (pretty
primitive, but it works!).
What do you mean about the mold?
When I made hard cheeses the surface would get really moldy, since I aged it in my basement. I would wipe it off with a vinegar-soaked cloth usually, but the parmesan and gouda eventually got too gross to eat! 🙁
Probably the basement air wasn’t completely clean. I just covered the
cheeses with a towel. Also, I wiped them off with vinegar, but I don’t
think I did it enough.
At some point I hope to try again since I now have a dorm fridge to use. I haven’t used it yet, though I am planning to attempt another cheddar soon, as soon as I order some new starter (mine is now too old).
What kind of milk are you using?
I use Garelick milk. There aren’t any small dairy farms near here that don’t ultra-pasturize. I also went once into New Hampshire to buy raw cow and goat milk for cheddar and feta.
Do you have any advice for other young cheese makers?
My best advice would be to try everything and anything! I got interested in cheese making simply by trying something new, and stumbled upon a great hobby. Also, don’t let an initial failure get you down. It took me three tries before I made mozzarella successfully from scratch. If you persist, then you will succeed, and the result will always be much more satisfying after the struggle to achieve it.
|Ethan in a Tesla Model S (unfortunately not his!)|