Almost Everything But the Crackers
Mad Millie is now offering to the American market cheese making kits stocked with almost everything a beginning cheese maker would need to have to make their own ricotta, burrata or cheddar. The New Zealand company also offers cider kits with everything necessary to create a holiday buzz with the flavors of fall.
The cheese making kits don’t take away all of the risk of failure, but they increase the odds that even a complete novice can successfully turn grocery store milk or goat’s milk fresh from the dairy into an artisanal cheese, says Mad Millie Sales Director for North America, Adam Southard. “It’s better to start off with a step-by-step set of instructions because it’s not necessarily intuitive. The things that affect the flavor and the type of cheese you make add in a lot of variables. That affects flavor and the quality of the cheese that you end up with. I don’t think people realize that the difference between a cheddar and a cream cheese is partly the temperature of the milk. It uses the same cultures – it’s the aging time and the temperature of the milk that are the two things that affect the consistency of the cheese.”
Each Mad Millie kit contains the mesophilic cultures and the equipment to make a few different cheeses along with step-by-step instructions to walk the novice through making the first few cheeses. Everything’s in the box except the milk and the stainless steel pot.
“If you’re going to make cheese without a kit for the first time, you’ll need to buy a thermometer, the cultures, which are not widely available, the cheese cloth and the plastic molds, which are not something you cannot just go pick up at your local store. The kits contain a number of things that you have to have but that are not necessarily easily accessible,” Southard says.
Mad Millie’s kits now available in the U.S., include Artisan Cheese, Italian Cheese and Fresh Cheese kits as well as the Millie’s Fromage Kit, which is packaged specifically as a gift with a round cheese box, ceramic bowl, the cheese mold for a feta, the thermometer and the consumables and instructions for feta, oil and herb marinated feta and queso fresco. The ceramic bowl and top acts as a rudimentary cheese press for shaping the queso fresco. Suitable for a complete beginner, the Millie’s Fromage Kit retails for $39.
With the right kit, making a cheese takes about two or three hours of active cheese making followed by additional time to age and cure. Time for that depends on the specific cheese that’s being made. “Mozzarella takes one to one and a half hours. Feta takes 24-48 hours because it has to brine. Cheddar takes a month, at a minimum, to allow the cheese to ripen, and the flavor to develop,” Southard says.
The Italian Cheese Kit retails for $29.95 and will make mozzarella, ricotta, ricotta salata, burrata and mascarpone. The Mad Millie Fresh Cheese Kit retails for $42 and will make feta, halloumi, cream cheese, cottage cheese, quark and chevre. Quark is a fresh cheese similar to cottage cheese or farmer cheese. “This is the kit to buy as an entry into cultured cheeses. This is something that we’re pretty proud of, that we’ve invented the process to maintain the cheese cultures’ viability on the shelf, in a convenient amount which is designed especially for home cheese makers,” Southard says.
The Artisan Cheese Kit contains everything a cheese maker needs to make every kind of cheese imaginable, except the blue and white mold cheeses, for which specialty mold spores would have to be acquired from another vendor. It makes all of the cheeses in the Italian Cheese Kit, all of the cheeses in the Fresh Cheese Kit, as well as cultured butter, Colby, cheddar, Havarti and a cheese in the Wensleydale style beloved by Wallace and Gromit as well as wax and a cheese press. It retails for $129.99.
The Mad Millie Cider Starter Kit retails for $140 and includes the bottles, fermenter and first lot of ingredients – everything you need to make that first bottle of hard cider, which can be ready to drink in three weeks. Refill kits for apple, pear, strawberry ciders and elderflower ale retail for $33 and will make 2.5 gallons, or about four six-packs.
Kits are sold online and in specialty stores. The company does not have a direct retail channel. For more information and customer support contacts, visit www.madmillie.com. For wholesale inquiries, call Southard at 503.739.3070.
This story was originally published in the November 2014 issue of Kitchenware News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.