Making cheese at Glenwood’s Downtown Market
Glenwood’s Downtown Market committee has been meeting regularly since the first of the year to plan and work on all the business involved in making the market happen each summer. We are excited about the fabulous line-up of musicians, vendors and chefs on board to make this the best summer market ever.
The first market is scheduled to start June 9, right around the corner.
I am Tricia Cleis, a new member of the board and a recent graduate of the sustainability program at CMC, and I will be writing articles for the Post Independent to keep everyone updated with what is going on at the Downtown Market each week. We are always looking for new ideas to present in the Cooking Demonstration Booth. With that in mind, we have a cheese-making demonstration planned.
I have long been intrigued by the concept of making cheese. Some types of cheeses require ingredients not readily available in your local grocery store, but cottage cheese, paneer, ricotta and soft, crumbly Mexican cheeses can be made with common ingredients that you may have on hand in your kitchen already. Since it is calving season in the valley, milk may be abundant, and making cheese is a simply wonderful and exciting experience to include in your dinner party. These cheeses can be made in less than an hour.
Melissa Adams-Maness, otherwise known as The Honey Lady of Glenwood’s Downtown Market and co-owner of Colorado Mountain Honey, and I made cheese from milk that I acquired locally from Tom VonDette, a rancher whose injured calf is having to be bottle-fed and the mama is giving more than enough milk for the calf, thus the overabundance of milk. Local farmers remember their grandmothers making cheese, butter and other dairy specialties as a matter of course. For the rest of us, it is a novelty that we learn from a YouTube search on cheese making.
YouTube has a slew of recipes to choose from; look for simple ingredients and specifically for ingredients you may have on hand. The necessary ingredients for cheese don’t get any simpler: acid — such as vinegar, citric acid or ascorbic acid — salt and milk. We had sun-dried tomatoes from the El Jebel Winter Market at the Eagle Crest Nursery, and fresh herbs, which we put in a processor to make them finer and consistent. Equipment includes a candy or meat thermometer, a colander, a couple of pans and cheese cloth.
The salt is optional and has two purposes: to dry the cheese (if it is too soft) and for flavor. Melissa and I made two batches using one-half gallon of milk each to produce approximately 2-3 cups of cheese — enough for a wonderful treat on crackers or to put in your dinner party recipe. With the first recipe, we followed the directions closely and squeezed all the liquid out. We did not need the salt to dry the cheese; in fact, we added some of the whey back because we thought it was too dry. The whey is the leftover milk by-product after you capture all the cheese curds in the cheese cloth-lined colander. What to do with the leftover whey (which was a little more than ¾ gallon) could be a problem for some. Tom, the rancher, has pigs, and pigs love whey, so that’s how he got his jugs back, whey full. The whey could be used as a soup stock, liquid to cook pasta in, or for polenta making.
With the second batch we did not squeeze nearly all the liquid out, and we liked the consistency and flavor better on the second batch. I was a little heavy-handed on the salt, and I tore the tomatoes up smaller on the second batch. You may want to go light on the salt, or use none, add cream and honey and serve with fruit and rice crackers.
This summer we have an exciting lineup for the Cooking Demonstration Booth at Glenwood’s Downtown Market; one will be a student from Literacy Outreach making soft Mexican cheese, so you can see for yourself how easy it is to make cheese from local ingredients. Other demonstrations at the market will be as varied as local chefs promoting their restaurants to home cooks showing off their culinary skill, vendors showing us how to prepare and serve their products from the market, and amateur cooks with special recipes to share with all who come to Glenwood’s Downtown Market.
Glenwood’s Downtown Market will be starting June 9 and continue every Tuesday through the summer in downtown Glenwood Springs at Grand Avenue and 9th Street. Call 970-618-3650 for more information.
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