This week kicks off my six-week cheese class: The International Cheese Board. No, I'm not taking a six-week cheese class. I wish!! I'm teaching a six-week cheese class - to a dozen fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh graders. Yikes. Wish me luck. Thankfully I have a co-teacher this term; that always makes life much easier. Susan wasn't here this week as she was off leading a teachers' workshop in Los Angeles. But, stay tuned for all our cheesy shenanigans.
As a little ice breaker, I had them introduce themselves and tell us what their favorite cheese is. I was pleasantly surprised to hear: "I like stinky cheeses. Whatever is the stinkiest is my favorite!" But they ran the gamut from goat cheese to brie and more. Thank goodness no one answered, "American" because, well, that's not real cheese.
I told the kids that cheese is simply milk that has been curdled, drained, pressed, and ripened. Four little steps. That's it. Today, we curdled...
- 1-1/2 C whole milk
- 1 to 2 T lemon juice
- 1 to 2 T orange juice
- 1 to 2 T vinegar (we used apple cider vinegar)
- Also needed: 3 clear jars for observation
Heat milk to the steaming point. Divide the milk evenly into the clear jars. Pour lemon juice into one jar, orange juice into the second, and vinegar into the third jar. Observe what happens.
They discovered that lemon juice produced smaller curds than vinegar. Orange juice didn't curdle at all. And vinegar smelled the worst.
Because we'll be making different cheeses throughout the next five weeks, I didn't do an exhaustive tasting. But they did try: Chèvre, Gouda, Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Monterey Jack, Cheddar, and Taleggio.
We discussed future week's lessons and they requested a week on American cheeses - you know, cheese from America not American cheese?!! - a week on smoked cheeses from different parts of the world, and a week on stinky cheeses. We can do that!
This was a little bittersweet for me. It's the first time I'm teaching that I don't have R in my class...since he's graduated and off at high school.
During week one, kids are always a little bit shy. I'm looking forward to next week. I think we'll be making paneer. We'll see...
Oh, and I did get lots of comments about my cheesy shirt!!