Cheese Making Book Reviews

    Cheese making books are plentiful and often very handy to have. Here I'll outline some of the ones I've read, the ideal audience/use, what I liked, what I didn't, and how to overcome some of those issues... perhaps with other books on the subject capable or "filling the gaps".

    This page is massive because all the books I've reviewed are covered in one page. Get yourself a snack and a beverage if you plan to read it from start to finish. Feel free to use the headings to save time.

    However, for your convenience, please use the cover images below will skip to the appropriate section.

    Finally, I also have a separate article including downloadable copies of antique cheese making references. Some are short, some are whole texts. Feel free to have a look here:

    Antique cheese making books

    Home Cheese Making in Australia


    Mastering Basic Cheesemaking


    Keep Calm & Make Cheese


    Artisan Cheese Making At Home


    Home Cheese Making


    Intermediate Books

    Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking


    Art of Natural Cheesemaking


    Additional Readings:

    Field Guide to Cheese


    Book Of Cheese


    Milk. Made


    Reinventing the Wheel


    A little side note from a non American cheese maker:

    If you have had similar experiences to me, then you'll find that many cheese making books are written from a distinctly American perspective. Don't get me wrong, America has many great cheese makers, and even some great artisinal cheese recipes. However, when you're learning, books written this way are often difficult for the amateur Aussie/international cheese maker when they're just starting out.

    There are a few complications that need to be addressed in this sort of situation:

    1. The most obvious problem with U.S. books is there's always the minor inconvenience of those pesky imperial units (some actually different to their european counterparts). C'mon people, metric is good. No fractions, metric is calculator and finger-counting-friendly... unless you've had an accident and are missing aforementioned fingers. :~)

    2. Often the listed suppliers in U.S. centric books are (understandably, but often unhelpfully) all in the U.S. of A. Equipment may be fine to ship internationally (at some expense) but the cultures are an entirely different matter. Cultures are difficult to get in Australia intact because of the typically slow delivery times we experience from American shippers, and that summer/winter temperature shift of northern/southern hemisphere transit is terrible if the cultures are not being kept in refrigeration. It's for this reason I don't recommend that you import your cultures, and seek local alternatives.

    3. Using local cultures isn't always easy to do if you're running from an international recipe. Cultures often use different labelling conventions from one country to the next, which may not line up with what you get on yours. It's sometimes difficult to know for sure that your local cultures are both:

    • Actually the same/similar mix as the American (or other international) suppliers might offer, and...

    • Anything close to the strength/concentration/growth rates of the American counterparts, and are similar enough to use in the quoted amounts noted in the ingredients list. So some translation (and often calculations) are needed.

    Just keep that in mind when you're reading the reviews below.

    Home Cheese Making in Australia by Valerie Pearson

    Home Cheese Making in Australia by Valerie Pearson

    Valerie Pearson is an Australian Cheese Maker. This book is handy for Australian hobbyists as many of the cultures she specifies are available from her own online store, as well as other sources around Australia.

    Home Cheese Making In Australia, 2nd Edition. By Valerie Pearson

    There are many great books on cheese making. However,  I have started my cheese making book review page with this book because it suits Aussie cheese makers like myself. The simple reason is that those starting out will have a much easier time if they obtain both their recipes and cultures from the same source.... preferably local or at least, domestic to their country, wherever that may be.

    Back to this book...

    For those "Aussie (cheese making) battlers" out there who have been trying to find a good book on cheese making that actually lists Australian suppliers, resources, units of measurement, and references, then this is a good choice for you.

    Now firstly, I want to state that you can use this as an introductory book. However, absolute beginners are going to have to do a bit of work on their own to get started. None and I mean none of the recipes will tell you how much culture of any given type to add.

    <cue shock and disbelief here>

    Valerie the author, actually does this with your best interests in mind, because she understands that you might have a different culture strength to the ones she uses.

    However the cultures listed in her book are available from Green Living Australia since Valerie has some affiliation and runs their cheese making workshops. Before I delve into that rabbit hole, let's do a quick overview of the book at large....

    The book is well organized. It has 38 page, decent, but not overwhelming introductory section outlining the basics of cheese making. Then the book goes into 220 pages of cheese recipes. Starting from the simplest "fresh" cheeses, then moving into harder cheeses, "eye" cheeses like swiss, blue cheeses, brie/camembert, and even into washed rind varieties which are a bit more work. At the end there's the classic "Where to go from here?" and also several sections outlining potential general cheese making troubleshooting steps, glossary, resources, and index.

    Nothing particularly new for a cheese making book, but I do like:

    • There's a complete absence of imperial units. No gallons, quarts, oz, pounds.
    • Recipes are clearly written and easy to follow (once your culture amounts have been calculated.. I have an article about that on this site found here: Adding the right amount of culture.
    • Pictures are very handy to see whether "yours came out like it should".
    • It also outlines that some cheeses do grow "surface mould" more readily than others, and simply wiping it off with a clean cloth moistened with brine/vinegar is good enough to deal with it.
    • Nice range of recipes, easier at the front, more challenging at the back.

    The thing I feel could have been done better in the 2nd edition:

    Considering Valerie doesn't include any indication of how much culture to use in the recipes themselves, preparing beginners with a better guide to navigate this would have been a huge advantage. I feel this is the biggest hurdle to this book for beginners. No explicit detail regarding the solution is made.

    In fairness, Valerie explains why cultures vary from one batch to another, and the reader can understand that.

    The gist is as follows:

    So the manufacturers growing the cultures, use their equipment to figure out how "active" each batch is likely to be, then adjusts the amount supplied accordingly. Usually they provide a set amount that's enough to culture a specific milk quantity (like 1000L of milk). If the batch is less active, they simply supply more culture. If the batch is very active, you'll get less in the packet. Both will turn the same amount of milk into cheese, but amounts must be calculated on a case-by-case basis.

    She explains all this but only alludes to the solution somewhat vaguely on page 18. A simple example wouldn't have hurt. Also, suggesting that a kitchen scale with very accurate resolution (say 0.01g) is a requirement to use the recipes in this book would have been nice. However, that isn't explicitly mentioned, (and if it is, I didn't find it, and I humbly apologise). Many people have kitchen scales, but the common models will often round a reading to the nearest 1-2grams which is completely useless for cheese making needs.... unless you're making a lot of cheese and use larger quantities of cultures as a result. But let me be honest, that will be beyond your average home cheese maker's capacity/interest.

    All in all, once you get over the calculation issue, this book is a very handy reference that you can keep coming back to.

    If you're just starting out, feel free to use my guide on calculating culture quantities, and that will fill that pesky pothole left by this book, and it'll be relatively smooth sailing from there.

    Cost: At $35-50 (AUD), I'd say it's actually at the cheaper end l'd expect for this sort of book. I wouldn't recommend paying the upper end, as that's getting into hardback prices, and it's not a hard cover. I generally prefer hardbacks because it makes leaving it open as you make cheeses easier when you're washing your hands 30 times a day, it's nice to not leave whey stains all over your book because it keeps closing on you.

    It's cost is probably reflective of the smaller reader pool. So I'm going to give it 85%.

    Readability: 95%
    Information quality: 95%
    Ease of use: 80%
    Range of recipes: 90%

    Overall: 445/500 = 89%

    Who does this suit? Most cheese makers, (especially as a reference) but might intimidate a complete beginner. There are many books which cover a very similar range of cheeses, and even go beyond. I wouldn't expect you to find any truly exotic recipes in this book, but as an all-rounder it's very good.


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    Mastering Basic Cheesemaking by Gianaclis Caldwell

    If I had to suggest a beginner book this would probably be in my top three. It's clearly written, and has a wealth of knowledge throughout the book.

    Mastering Basic Cheesemaking, by Gianaclis Caldwell

    While the number of cheese making books has gone up substantially in the last decade, it's still has a relatively small pool of authors and books. Gianaclis Caldwell is a professional cheese maker and one of the most famous authors in the cheese making book "scene".

    Gianclis' books, while few in number, cover a diverse range of cheese making topics. This one, "Mastering Basic Cheesemaking" is the beginner book, she also has one teaching people how to make and run a cheese making business, called (strangely enough) "The Small Scale Cheese Business". Other books deal with the running of your own dairy, called "The Small Scale Dairy", & "Wholistic Goat Care". Arguably the most popular of all, is her more advanced home cheese making book: "Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking". Chances are, if you search for "cheese making book" you'll find at least one of these in the top 10 results.

    Since you're likely to come across it as I did, here is my review....

    Back to Mastering Basic Cheesemaking...

    This is a true introductory cheese making book. It assumes no prior knowledge and seems to include complete recipes, including all quantities of cultures. You might be thinking, "phew!".

    Many other cheese books start with an introductory (theory) section that leads to the later recipe sections (I guess that's the practice section, but it's often a matter of "just pick the cheese you want to make"). There's nothing wrong with this approach. However, Gianaclis has put a bit of a twist on this approach.

    Ok, there's yet another introductory section which spans roughly 41 pages. Then it hits the recipes. I can guess that you're thinking, "How is that different?".

    Well it goes a little something like this:

    The theory is actually much more in depth... and the way that Gianaclis has done this in a mere 41 pages.... is that's it's not actually limited to 41 pages. Theory is literally found throughout the book, and it is merged into all the recipes as well.

    Wondering why?

    The book starts with the most simple cheeses and gradually gets you to the more complex and involved cheese recipes.

    In every recipe, it outlines how you make it, and the ingredients needed, but also what making this particular cheese might teach you, and how it differs from the cheeses that came earlier in the book.

    In short, the book is structured in such a way, that it actually expects you to make the recipes, one after the other in order, so you not only get practice making a wide variety of cheeses, you see, smell, feel, and taste the differences between them, try differing approaches to making cheeses, and get real experience with adjusting recipes.

    It's not like other books where you learn a little theory, and then treat it like your garden-variety of recipe book, this thing has you doing exercises, comparisons, and in a very real way, the book is the cheese making equivalent of a personal trainer... slowly building your skills, and cheese making strength like a real fitness program. Trust me, some cheeses will have you standing up for hours on end, stirring continuously for sometimes upwards of an hour, tweaking, adjusting, and maintaining temperatures, and the cleaning... oh the insane amount of cleaning! So a cheese making boot camp makes a lot of sense in some ways.

    Overall, the book is not huge. At a total just over 130 pages long. (Other sites say it's anywhere between 141, and 160 something pages... mine does not have that many pages, and I guess these are differing editions to my own). With the first 41 or so pages taken up in the "purely theoretical" section, that leaves roughly 90 for the rest. I'd honestly say 80 pages of those remaining 90 are in fact, recipes.  There are also a few full page photos to soften the informational bombardment too.

    If you're just reading the book, you can probably read through the entire book, cover to cover in under a few hours. However, that won't be as good as actually going through and making each cheese in turn. The book assumes you know everything from previous sections of the book, so it doesn't repeat the same pieces of information in each and every recipe. So I wouldn't encourage new cheese makers to simply skip to the recipe they like... although that might still actually work as a recipe for cheese, you're not going to learn everything as well doing things this way.

    I would highly recommend this book because it provides a solid foundation, gives you the vast majority of what beginners need to know, and it's also easy to understand.

    The cost of the book varies quite a bit, however somewhere around the $42-60 Australian seems to be the typical price range for this book. It's shorter than some, so some people will feel it's not such great value, especially if they want a huge selection of cheese recipes... but others will see that as a highly efficient (easy-to-read) way to cover the basics.

    My copy came in at $46, and is a soft cover. However, the pages are quite wide, so it sits open pretty well. However, I generally prefer the hard covers if I can find them.

    As far as price is concerned, I can see reasons to give it both high and somewhat lower scores. If you're a beginner who wants to get the information quickly, then I'd give the cost score 90%. If you're an intermediate or advanced cheese maker, then I'd honestly put it closer to 70% because of the lack of recipes and relatively high cost per recipe ratio.

    Readability: 100%. This is perhaps one of the best worded, efficient cheese making book that I've come across. It will especially appeal to people who are "time poor".

    Information quality: 95% This comes from someone who know what they're doing, and does it professionaly. However, I feel there's always room for improvement, and while I agree with almost everything in the book, there's a few things that my training and experience has taught me to do a little differently. But that's ok!

    Ease of use: 90% I think the complete recipes are great, and that the book can be used as a reference very easily once you've gone through it. Personally, I don't see many people making each cheese in turn, so I'm going to say it's somewhat unrealistically designed. Those committed enough to follow the steps from cover to cover, will obtain  a very solid understanding of, and experience with cheese making, and that afterall is the goal.

    Range of recipes: 90% Keeping in mind that this is for beginners. I think it's a nice range of cheeses and very good at going through the various types and offers an overview of the popular cheese making techniques. Are you going to get every type? Of course not. But that's not what this book is trying to do.

    Overall: 445-465/500 (89-93% depending on your view regarding price).

    I'll start the next book over the weekend, so stay safe and have fun!


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    Here is another Australian book aimed at beginners. It's not in-depth, but will get you up and running in the least amount of time possible.

    Gavin updates his book periodically, includes links to numerous videos, and has a loyal following in the Australian cheese making community.

    Keep Calm & Make Cheese: The Beginners Guide To Cheese Making At Home, (Revision 2.3) By Gavin Webber.

    I know I was supposed to do Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking here, but this book literally landed on my doorstep today, and I've just spent the afternoon reading through it.

    This book is clearly designed to be delivered as an "e-book". If you buy the printed copy from Gavin's online store, just know that it is the kind of booklet that is in fact, printed on an office-quality colour printer on A4 sized paper, bound with a standard office binding machine. So while the information is still pretty darn good. It's nowhere near the polished, professionally photographed, professionally printed, and meticulously bound book that one might expect. That might matter to some of you, particularly if you're going to give it to someone as a gift. I'm less worried though, since I've paid people to literally write their recipes and notes down on whatever paper is at hand, so I'm somewhat less prone to literally judging a book by the cover.

    Gavin is another Aussie cheese maker. He and his partner run a business dedicated to offering cheese making, bread making, soap making, and home made cosmetics supplies, which can be found at:

    Gavin also runs his own cheese making podcasts and blog. The site for those can be found at:

    Now, Gavin may not be a professional cheese maker like other authors on this list, but what he lacks in "professional" experience, he makes up for in enthusiasm, (and YouTube videos) and he both views and writes things from a home cheese makers perspective. That's pretty handy if you're just starting out. The distinct lack of industry jargon greatly reduces confusion to beginners.

    At 91 pages long, the page count might seem light, but it is comparable to "Mastering Basic Cheesemaking" if you remove the full-page photos in Gianaclis' book. However, there's a lot of empty space in this book, so "Keep Calm and Make Cheese" is a noticeably lighter read as far as the theory goes, but there is a wider, and somewhat more interesting range of cheese recipes to try. This is understandable, Gianaclis intended to write multiple books to cover the spectrum of cheese recipes, while Gavin wrote this as an "introductory stand-alone guide".

    I'd also say that while the 26 pages of introductory theory are enough to get people started, there's still a lot left that could be included. Clearly, this book's goals are to get you making cheese as fast and trouble free as possible. If Gianaclis was trying to get you to do a multiple-month-long boot camp with "Mastering Basic Cheesemaking", this book is much more like a weekend "crash course" with the explicit goal of getting your hands making cheese A.S.A.P.

    Like the other books, the simplest cheeses are listed at the front with the more difficult/involved cheeses in the back. No surprises there. There may be fewer recipes overall, but the suggested "additives" such as dried herbs, pepper, chilli, and wine demonstrate extra possibilities that you can do with each recipe.

    The recipes are complete as far as ingredients are concerned. No need for calculations of cultures. Temperatures include both Celsius and Fahrenheit.. however volume quantities are in metric and cups. You won't find quarts, or pints or other imperial units listed in the book. So if you're from far-off lands who haven't come to the dark-side/enlightened side of metric's lazy/easy calculations...  you're going to need to convert those volumes into quarts on your own. I'll send my feedback to Gavin and see if he'll kindly add that in future revisions.

    Multimedia? In a book?

    The thing that really separates Gavin's book from the others is the 23 YouTube videos that are linked via QR codes in the book. If you have the hard copy, you'll need to install a QR code reader app on your phone/tablet in order to take advantage of them, as the direct links are not provided in text form. If you have the e-book edition, you may well just "click" on the QR code and be taken straight to the relevant video. Since I don't have the electronic edition, I can't test that theory.

    Post review update: Gavin has responded and says that the e-book does include clickable links.

    You shouldn't underestimate the value these videos bring. They give you an on-demand instructional cooking video which takes you through an entire process or cheese recipe step by step. Ok, so while the book isn't as professionally printed, and the photos are nowhere near the size of a full page, the videos tell you the story in far more detail than a photo ever could.

    Please note that while there are many recipes with a video, there are some that do not. So don't assume you can just run off YouTube for everything.

    The things I like:
    • It's a short book that lays out the basics and gets you started quickly.
    • The addition of YouTube videos is amazing for beginners.
    • Both Celsius/Fahrenheit temperatures are provided, and metric volume measurements make things easy for Aussies/metric lovers.
    • Recipes suggest cultures/sources that are available in Australia.
    • Nice variety of cheeses, some outside the norm of a beginner's book. This makes it a useful reference.
    • Encourages the use of pre-existing kitchen equipment that you already have, or how to obtain equipment cheaply.

    Things that could be improved:
    • If true international use is the goal, adding imperial volume measurements would be an advantage.
    • Useful information like the flocculation method is way up the back after the recipes... I feel it should have been moved to the start of the book.
    • I'd like to see easier access to the YouTube videos for people who don't use a smart phone, or have a clue what a QR code is, especially for people who own the hard copy.
    • I'd like to see the estimated time taken, and expected yield of cheese (given the provided quantities of ingredients) to be included in all the recipes. It would just help beginners to plan out their cheese making more effectively.

    Quantitative Analysis:

    Cost: $17 (e-book) $25.50 (printed) puts it at the cheapest cheese making book I've seen to date. However, the overall hard copy edition is not, strictly speaking, professionally done. I'd give it 65% but I'm adding 15% for the (free) videos. 80%

    Readability: Starting at 80% The short page count helps here. From an information perspective, I feel it's basic, and may not satisfy everyone, but it's a good beginner reference. No major challenges in reading it cover to cover whatsoever, but there are some minor quirks in the overall organisation of the book where there were parts that might have been useful before the recipe section. Videos are a huge help for those who don't like reading, I'm adding 10% here. Total for readability: 90%

    Information Quality: 85%. I feel the book is aimed at a basic level, but it is sufficient for the task. Like most beginner books, I feel that there are some omissions that might have made things easier for the reader, but there's nothing misleading or wrong per se.

    Going through my own cheese making notes, I've made a few successful cheeses with extremely similar recipes from other sources. (temp difference of 2 degrees, slightly different pressing weight) I'm very confident that the information is solid.

    Ease of Use:
    From a cheese making perspective, I'd say that the book is a solid 95%. However, the requirement for people to have smart phones, and QR code reading apps for the printed edition is an assumption that won't apply to the technologically limited. Yes I know I'm being pedantic, but in my cheese making course, the average age was 74, and many of them were using phones with small screens and actual buttons. I'd really like to see a non-QR link for each video in the book. (Perhaps one simple link in the printed book, linking to a page on Gavin's web site, then each clickable link should be listed from there?) I'm deducting 5%, so the final score on this is 90%.

    Range of Recipes: I've talked about the number of recipes in other books, but Gavin has done something a bit different here. He's skipped a few recipes, so the raw number is lower, I think I'd be giving it roughly 75% all else being equal... but I feel that the suggestion of additives, and the more interesting varieties of included cheeses should warrant a bit extra because they're more inspiring than some of the other books. I'm going to give it an additional 5% for the suggested additives, and another 5% for the marinaded "drunken cheese" which if you ever make it, goes amazingly well inside home made ravioli. Total score here, 85%.

    Overall score for the book: 430/500 = 86%

    Another post-review update:

    I'm very impressed by an email that just came in. It seems the Fetta recipe in this book is a bit too salty for some. So Gavin has kindly updated the recipe and sent it to everyone who has purchased his book. I really like the ongoing committment to existing customers.

    After sales support on a book!


    Moving on...

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    An introductory book with lots of "add ons", that's beautifully presented...

    If you're looking for a cheese making book to give as a gift, or a nice coffee table book, then the hard cover of Artisan Cheesemaking at Home is a solid choice.

    Artisan Cheesemaking At Home by Mary Karlin

    Another introductory book on cheese making, you might be wondering "Haven't you read enough of them?". The truth is, that I find that each book brings something to the table. Each author explains things in differing ways, and that helps me to understand, and convey information... whenever I might need to. Everyone is different, and I find concepts easier to learn one way, and nigh-on impossible in others.

    I'm editing this review as I read the book again. However, Mary Karlin has done a really nice job of covering the basics, but perhaps more importantly, covered ways to do a variety of alternative/optional techniques.

    For example: A lot of books outline that you can make bloomy rind cheeses (like Brie) by innoculating the milk with Penicillium Candidum (PC) during the make, or by spraying a mixture of water and Penicillium Candidum on the formed, salted wheels after the fact.

    While many recipes use the innoculation method, and outline that in detail, the authors of other books often then forget to detail the somewhat less popular spraying method. Normally I'd use the easier innoculation method, but on one Brie make, I found I had run out of PC culture. Oh no!

    After I'd made the wheels, I found another vial of P.C. culture, so I decided to spray it on.. but didn't really know the amount, or the recipe to make the spray. Mary Karlin saved my bacon.

    In the French version of the Brie recipe, Mary outlined the exact recipe for the spray, and now my Brie wheels are a luscious fuzzy white a week later.

    It's these somewhat unpopular/anecdotal processes that are often overlooked by many books, so it's nice to have one that covers these details for when you need them.

    "Artisan Cheese Making at Home" is a beautiful book. If you want ideas for a gift. It's well presented, tons of gorgeous photos, and is tidy in the page layouts. My edition is a hard cover, which helps to hold the book open when making cheese which helps if you want to keep whey and curds from being smeared into every page.

    But is it an introductory book? Well... that depends:

    Like so many other books, the introductory (theory) section is 33 pages and then moves onto "Beginning cheese making" (40 pages), "Intermediate Cheese Making" (60 pages), "More Advanced Cheese Making" (another 60 pages), then "Cooking with Artisan Cheeses" (42 pages).

    But what does that really mean? Well beginner cheeses are the fresh/acid cheeses, medium, semi-hard to hard, and advanced, the bloomy rinds, washed rinds, etc. So while the book does evolve from the most basic to more complex recipes... I wouldn't say that it's necessarily an "advanced, or even intermediate" level book in the strictest sense of the words.

    There's nothing stopping you from being able to make most cheeses from an early stage, if you've familiarised yourself with the recipe, the equipment, and the process.

    Honestly, because it's pretty easy to read, and get going,  I'd put this book as a "Beginner, to lower intermediate", with tips and tricks suitable for all levels. That's not a criticism, just an acknowledgement of the fact that most "beginner" books cover a fairly similar range of "difficulties" in a surprisingly similar progression of recipe types.

    So it's pretty, it has some additional that it?

    The one thing that blows my mind about this book is the ways in which additives of all manner (wines, oils, herbs, spices, mushrooms, colourants, ash, garlic, onions and many others) are infused with, mixed in, or coated onto cheeses. There are some cheeses there that I have never heard of, methods not even remotely covered in other books, so the book has a lot to offer people with extensive cheese making book libraries. If Gavin Webber added a few variations on his cheeses, this one does that and and more.

    Now, I said that this book is "pretty", but the bizarre cheese types really come into their own when they have their own full two page spread with professionally made photographs, and it gives you an immediate desire to... "give it a go". That said, there are many recipes that are "image free"... which I feel will make them easy to overlook by comparison. I have found that pretty pics do bias my cheese making direction, and can imagine that others may behave similarly.

    It would have been really nice to have pictures for all of them (so you know your cheese make turned out like it should).. perhaps that will be for the next edition?

    That said, I really like some of the exotic recipes to use artisan cheese at the back. I keep staring at the image depicting a chocolate crepe infused with nutella and ricotta cheese. So this might not be a good gift for anyone considering a diet, or "food plan" whatever that entails :~)

    Things I don't like about this book....

    Being clearly written by folks in the greater North American continent, it is unfortunately dominated by the flaws of most books written in the area.

    1. Imperial measurements (weight, volume, and temperatures). I don't recall seeing any metric measurements in the book at all... which is a shame, considering the book is sold in multiple countries.
    2. Techniques are buried like gems in recipes. However, you might remember "It's somewhere in the Brie recipe".. but there's a few variations you might have to wade through to find it. I highly recommend you mark them for easy reference when you find them.
    3. There are many resources that are centred on U.S.A. and Canada, which would be largely useless for folks like me who live elsewhere. Some of the links in the Resources section are dead... but that doesn't really surprise me. The functional links are more helpful than I expected.
    4. No guide lines on wheel sizes, and the resulting aging times. I feel that could be done a bit better... but that's something I've come to expect from most books.
    5. Marketing for this book could be done a little more... umm... accurately. On Mary Karlin's web site, she claims the book is: "The most comprehensive book about home-crafted cheese making". In some ways, it adds things that few other books include... to give credit where it's due.... but I'm sorry Mary, I feel Gianaclis' "Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking", covers stuff in there that yours hasn't even tried to. If you had said, "One of the most comprehensive..." I could have lived with that. It might have been true at the time of writing, but like all facts, they need to be checked regularly.

    Quantitative Analysis:

    Cost: 98%, even at the upper end of the price range. You get a lot of value here. 

    At $39-53 (AUD), it's "on par" (price wise) for Gianaclis' "Mastering Basic Cheese Making", covers more material, and is a beautifully presented hard back. 

    Readability: 90%

    Some of the information is buried in recipes, and provision of metric measurements would have aided some understanding. The book is nicely laid out, and fairly easy to read.

    It;s closer to a traditional recipe book, which aids re-readability, and "spontaneous" cheese making.

    Information quality: 95%

    Looking at the intro, and comparing recipes/images to my own results, as well as similar make logs, the recipes I've tried are "close if not identical". However, there are quite a few recipes I have not tried. I doubt that Mary would be publishing poorer quality recipes. Again, some minor differences in the way I do things.. nothing major. However, there's a decent amount of information that is rendered less useful to international cheese makers.

    Ease of use:
    85% (95% if you're in the U.S)

    The lack of metric, and international culture sources means finding exact equivalents to be challenging. Also, the fact that there are no pictures for some recipes makes it hard to see if yours turned out like it should.

    Range of recipes:

    I have to show credit here, the marinaded cheeses, the goat milk "Brie-like" options, the herb and berry encursted "Brin d'Amour", "Lemon Vodka Sprited Goat Cheese" and wrinkly "Buttermilk Blue" are definitely not included in other the other books I've read so far. Add the proper treatment of various additives for recipe alteration, and wow.

    Overall: 467/500 = 93.4% (or 95.4% if you live in the U.S. or Canada)
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    Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll

    This is one of the "go to" beginner books for many, particularly in the U.S. However there are many outside America who love this book... that said, it can be difficult to find the exact ingredients outside of America.

    Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll

    If you search for cheese making books, this one (or one of the other editions) is almost certain to turn up in the top 10 results.

    Ricki Carrol is involved with the "New England Cheesemaking Supply" site. The site has been around for a long time, and has a very interesting weekly newsletter (or Monday Morning Moos-letter). It's great that there is such reliable engagement with people, rather than the intermittent missives of other cheese-related organisations.

    By the way, if you don't like puns, faux cheese-related biblical references, and "dad jokes"... which seem just as groan worthy if they come from mothers too... then this book perhaps isn't for you. If you can appreciate such things, then you may find that this book is one of the easiest to read, full of practical advice in an engaging (if not to everyone's tastes) delivery style.

    This book immediately covers the theory, like the other beginner books, but takes a different approach. It spends more time talking about different types of milk (Cow, sheep, goat, yak, buffalo, etc). However, it tells you "right off the bat" that different milks have differing properties. The way in which you make cheese with cow milk is very different to sheep. Recipes need to be adjusted, temperatures and pressing weights reduced... but if you do that, you get 2-2.5 times the yield you could expect from cows milk!

    Most of the time, you have to wade through pages of information to find gems of wisdom like that.... not so with this book.

    The cover states that this book includes 75 cheese recipes, but that is a bit misleading. It gives you the recipe, sure, but it gives you several different ways to do each recipe.

    While many of the other books are a little more.... prescriptive, this one fits somewhere between the tips and tricks Mary Karlin has provided in her book "Artisan Cheese Making at Home", and the "you can go your own way" featured in Gianaclis Caldwell's "Mastering Artisan Cheese Making".... but is so simple to read, I feel that it's a "value added" beginner book.

    Even people who are not interested in making cheese a hobby can learn a lot from this book. Interesting facts and quirks of cheese making aren't just throughout the book, they are tightly packed, squeezed into most sections. The first time I read "Home Cheese Making" I had to re-read the first chapter because there's useful information everywhere, and I missed some on the first pass.

    If Gianaclis Caldwell provides the knowledge to forge your own cheese making path and adapt when problems occur, and Mary Karlin's book provides practical tips and tricks (or tools) that can help pave the way, then Ricki Carrol has really fleshed that out by adding considerations for changing milk types, avoiding issues before they come up, and adding some "real world experience" to whatever plans your make might have.

    That said, this book does stand on it's own very well, and provides information in a way that is not overly technical, yet it is interesting, and laced with humour.

    Now the down sides:

    Ricki has absolutely NO metric measurements of any kind, so for metric lovers, get used to doing conversions. I suggest spending a rainy afternoon just jotting down the conversions in the book.

    There are no photos, of ANY cheese whatsoever. It's text and drawings.. from start to finish. So good luck figuring out what your cheese should look like.

    Packet-centred culture measurements. Now this is perhaps the most frustrating for me, because I don't know how much is in a packet. I operate in fractions of a teaspoon or weight based on the potency of a culture packet. Pre-made packets confuse me because for hobbyist cheese makers in Australia, there are only a handful of pre-measured packets (usually under the Mad Millie brand) of only a select few culture mixes... and this is too limiting for me to even consider.

    Also, while I'm at it, some online sellers sell packets, but in industrial quantities. If your "packet" of cultures cost more than $20, that's a big packet, and you would need to have 1000L of milk (or more) to turn into cheese. That said, as someone who probably uses about 250-400L per year, the "buying in bulk" can be false economy if the cultures go way past their use by dates before you can use them.

    That said, I'm still using a bottle of rennet that's 8 months out of date, and it works fine. Because it lives in the fridge, and I boil everything into oblivion before I open it each time.

    Alas, I digress....

    Ricki Carroll has done a great job in teaching you the basics, and the recipes are very good if you can figure out the quantities of.. well... everything. For someone in the U.S. or Canada (perhaps even Europe) it would be amazing. But for international readers elsewhere, I'm sorry, but I struggle to recommend it as a first cheese making book, even though it is aimed at them. I just can't buy the packets listed in the recipes here in Australia. As such the "ease of use" is substantially reduced.

    Ricki, if you read this, please consider updating the recipes with culture/volume or culture/weight for your international audience.

    Cost: At $20-45 (AUD), it's definitely at the cheaper end l'd expect for this sort of book. Like Valerie Pearson's "Home Cheese Making in Australia", I wouldn't recommend paying the upper end, and it's not a hard cover.

    It's cost is very good, especially as a "additional reference". However, while I do have some issues with the recipe section, the particularly low price offsets that somewhat. So I'm going to give it 75%.

    Readability: 95%

    Information quality: 80%

    Ease of use: 30% (from an Australian cheese maker perspective, losing an additional 50% because I can't buy the cultures in whatever a "packet" quantity entails.) 80% if you're in the U.S. 10% lost due to no photos, 10% for lack of non-packet quantities.

    Range of recipes: 80% (more than some at the absolute beginner level at similar price points, but far less than some others here).

    Overall: 360/500 = 72% if you're in Australia. 410/500 = 82% if you live in the U.S.

    Who does this suit? This book suffers from a similar problem to Valerie Pearson's book, so my recommendation is pretty much identical. Most cheese makers, (especially as a reference) but might stymie a complete beginner. Unless you're in the U.S., then it's fantastic.

    All done! On to the next book....

    Beyond The Basics: Intermediate & Advanced Books

    From this point, we're going into books that delve further into the mechanics of cheese making, with more detailed theory, and more specific (or obscure) instructions pertaining to related fields.

    Hopefully the books in this category will take you from simple recipe following at home. It may be more scientific, or help to make more difficult cheeses, or focus on business oriented aspects, or even dairy operations if that's of interest.

    Some books may show "alternative" methodologies and ideologies which, while effective, may not be considered "ideal" by everyone, yet produce some of the most "traditional" styles of cheese.

    Whatever it is, the books in this section will be best suited to people wanting to take steps to branch out, consider eco-friendly/traditional alternatives, learn more of the science, perhaps consider the transition from hobbyist to profession. It may even cover topics like caring for one's own livestock, whether that's a single animal, or a herd, or a menagerie of differing animal breeds. 

    Haven't scared you off? Then you're my kind of reader!

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    Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking is almost an essential book for the hobbyist that's going beyond the basics.

    Nowhere have I seen such an in-depth look at cheese making, laid out thoughtfully, and aimed to take you beyond simply following recipes, and get you paving your own way.

    Foodies, budding scientists, and those who really want to delve into the mechanics of cheese making need to read this book.

    Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking, by Gianaclis Caldwell

    Honestly, no cheese making book review page would be complete without this seemingly cornerstone book. However, I am taking my time with this review because it really is very different from most of the other cheese making books that I've come across.

    If you're impatient:

    This book is for people who want to take their cheese making to the next level. Sooner or later, you're going to want to read this book if you keep doing cheese making. If that sounds like you, get it.

    At the time of writing this article, there aren't many books for home cheese making enthusiasts that delve into this level of detail, and are so easily accessible/readable. Having said that, Book Depository seems to have run out of copies as I write now in June 2020.

    Any semi-serious cheese maker will benefit from adding this book to their library, but you don't need to start your cheese making journey with it, as there are many books that will help you to get great results with far less effort in the beginning. Avoiding complications on the outset is important because it will help you to figure out whether cheese making is something you want to get into, and give it a fair chance by encouraging you at the beginning. Once you've made a few varieties of cheese and eaten them, then you can come back to this book.

    If you're more patient... please enjoy a more detailed review. I'd recommend getting a snack/beverage to enjoy while reading this essay about this book.

    If I had to put it into a category, I'd say that this would fall into the intermediate level of cheesemaking. You could use this as a beginner book, but I think it'd scare many off before some people complete the first chapter. However if you're a "power user" or just really interested, then you may find that it goes the other way and it inspires an insatiable thirst for more information.

    This book is not specifically aimed for beginners, especially if you intend to read it cover-to-cover and don't like science. Because it will scare the unprepared off in chapter 1. However there's more to this story.

    Chapter one might seem like it drops readers into the "deep end". It talks about the composition of milk, curds, whey, and of course, cheese. The chapter discusses enzymes, salts, proteins, fat globules, protein networks, bacteria, moulds, yeasts, acidity levels, amino acids, throw in some greek letters in there for fun, multiple ways of classifying cultures, lots of latin names like "Lactobacillus Lactus, ssp. Lactis" ... and that's just in 30 pages. Suddenly I can see how many people might visibly flinch from this text.

    But it's not that bad! Let me explain...

    In fact, it's ok if you don't understand it all. Gianaclis even directs people to other parts of the book should it all prove "too much". What she's trying to do, is give you the overview of the science. Once you start putting the other chapters together with this general framework, it starts to come together. So I find that this book really does work best when you take your time to read, ponder the concepts, review it, make and taste the cheeses.

    Every time I read this book, I learn a bit more, and it really is surprising how much stuff ends up "rattling around in the head" afterwards. It's well written, and while it isn't an easy goal to cover so much in one book and convey it effectively to people who may not have a technical background, it explains things very well.

    Why is chapter one so hard?

    Gianaclis has already made the beginner book (reviewed above) being freed from starting again "from scratch" in this book, she has really dug into the mechanics of cheese making. She isn't just giving you recipes to follow in this book, but providing the tools to go your own way, understand why the recipes are done in a particular way, and then adjust recipes from others.. or even make your own recipes. It really lays out the foundation for you to understand exactly what you're trying to do. I'm not going to lie, there's a lot of stuff to know, and I don't think you'll ever stop learning in this hobby, but this book takes you much further than many others and empowers you to diverge from simply following recipes.

    How much theory is there, and does it get any easier?

    Where most books have 30-40 pages of introductory material, then go into recipes, this book does not do that.

    Don't worry, there's six chapters over 125 pages dedicated to cheese making theory, and the seventh chapter is more about identifying rather than making cheeses. Then Gianaclis has done her signature move of "lets incorporate more theory and the cheese-specific theory/tips/lessons learned" in the recipe and appendices sections too.

    However, I think chapter one is the hard part, then the book goes a bit easier on the reader, breaking the aspects of cheese making down into detailed, but not overwhelming sections. It's not all academic, it includes things like:
    • choosing the right milks,
    • setting up a cheese making area, and of course,
    • differing ways to make cheeses using basic gear that you probably already have in your kitchen, and then goes into some detail about the benefits of using increasingly expensive equipment.

    Perhaps one of the best things in the book is chapter 7, and it is titled "Getting to know the family". After the initial hit of science found in chapters 1-3, it almost seems friendly. I think this is one of the most iconic sections of this cheese book. It really is the "family tree of cheeses", and fantastic as far as figuring out which direction you want to go in your cheese making.

    Remember that many cheeses created by region not country... so there are lot of similar cheeses with differing names, so you can often easily make an Italian style cheese, with the same ingredients as a Swiss style. Or if you're a blue cheese fan, there's Italian "Gorgonzola", British "Stilton", French "Bleu d'Auvergne", Danish "Castello" and many other directions you can go. Simply changing the ratio of the ingredients, the temperatures and cook/pressing/aging processes, you can end up aiming for one cheese, and getting another... or if your culture is a little slow, or you have run out of one culture, you can adjust by making intentional changes to the process.

    Half and half anyone?

    At over 330 pages total, 135 pages of theory before, the first recipe plus dozens of pages of cheese specific theory within the various cheese recipes makes this book the first half-theory, half recipe cheese making book I've owned. In fact, including the appendices, suggested resources, and glossary, the theory probably outweighs the recipes. 

    Overall, Gianaclis has gone way above and beyond that of many other introductory cheese making books. However, I feel that there are still gaps, and the occasional lack of consistency.

    Seriously Ham, you're nit-picking an epic-yet-practical cheese making book?

    It may seem like I'm holding this book to a higher standard than the others... because I am. Gianaclis set a higher bar for it, and I'm just asking: "Does it achieve the goals it clearly intends to?".

    Throughout most of the book, Gianaclis has gone to great lengths to provide both imperial and metric measurements. However, when it comes to some recipes in the hard cheeses section. There are odd lapses in the provision of metric measurements. (Remove 2 quarts or 15-18% of the whey.. which neither are particularly intuitive mid-make). If you're making several cheeses at once, simply following her recipe and use metric, then come across this jarring extra calculation you don't have time for... that can be a real problem. It's this sort of thing that encourages people like me to "wing it", or use "best-guesstimation" (guaranteed to be within 50%... plus or minus). Which is not what Gianaclis is hoping to inspire in budding cheese makers with this book in particular.

    While I realise Gianaclis is trying to get the reader to go their own way, and learn from experience, there's a couple of things here and there, which are mentioned in passing that could stand to be a little less shy on the details. I can see why she has done this. Often it occurs where there's a lot of factors involved, and that can sometimes open a "can of worms" that might well need a doctoral thesis to explain. Nonetheless, a few guidelines assuming "all else being equal" would have been a huge help.

    One prime example is:

    Gianaclis touches on things like "the bigger you make your wheel of cheese, the longer it will take to age properly". It is absolutely true. However, no guidance on this is given. Gianaclis doesn't discuss the size of the mould/basket she used in the recipes, so it's hard to guage whether she's making a numerous batch small wheels, or a handful of somewhat larger ones, or one super massive wheel. So there's no reference point to start from.

    Going further....

    If everything else is kept the same, will making a wheel that is twice the size, require twice as long to age? Obviously this will change from one cheese type to another, the surface area of the wheel... relative to the volume of the cheese, moisture contents, aging temperatures, and of course, the potency of the microbes still working in the cheese. Other factors include taste preferences for young versus vintage cheeses. So I get why Gianaclis didn't open that particular "can of worms". But I think it could have been done with a base wheel size, expected aging times (young, medium, or vintage), and some general guidelines for increasing and decreasing wheel size, and how to handle them.

    pH references everywhere:

    Gianaclis does say that a pH meter isn't necessary to make cheese. However, she emphasizes the value of using pH as a guide to making cheese both well and reliably. However, if you don't have a good pH meter for your cheese making, you're going to start wondering about whether or not you can stretch your budget to one after reading this book. However if you're reading this book, then you might be at the stage it will actually be of help. Remember, Swiss cheese needs to have the curds drained at 6.3-6.5 pH. Cheddar a slightly more acidic 6.0-6.2. Which is probably why my Swiss style cheeses keep ending up like Cheddar. These things happen because I don't have a pH meter..... yet.

    Like many, I've looked at the "cheap" ($30-$200) pH meters, but they're often highly inaccurate, or don't last very long. Using pH strips is of negligible use... because I can't necessarily distinguish between the subtle shades that might separate a pH of 5.4 and 4.9. In fact depending on the light in the room and the time of day.. I've occasionally misinterpreted the colour by as much as 1.5-2 pH values (say 4.6 Vs 6.1.. which for a cheese maker... is almost completely useless). So pH readings are something I've decided is either a "do it properly, or not at all" thing. Your sight may be better, so don't let me stop you from trying something that may work for you.

    The other half, the recipes:

    Like most other books, this starts at the very basic acid-based cheeses, and works it's way up to the very hard, grated cheeses at the back. What impresses me about this recipe section is the sheer number of tweaks and directions that you can go for each type of cheese. You can make something more stretchy, or tangy, or grillable, or change the flavour entirely with a few minor modifications. Each section, whether it's fresh cheeses, or aged, has a bunch of really handy information, and stuff that's just interesting. Each cheese recipe has been contributed by a pro cheese maker, and so there's very little concern about it being "problematic". 

    The recipes include target temperatures, pH levels (a nice addition if you can measure it) which puts the quality of the information higher than most beginner books. However, it's going to frustrate those who can't measure such things accurately. If you don't have a means to measure pH, you just have to accept a level of variability in your cheese making from one batch to another. Some people like this.

    Quanitative analysis:


    At anywhere between $55-80 (Australian, with cheaper offers for e-versions) this is definitely at the higher end of the spectrum and is not a hardback. Cost is another reason that I don't think this suits beginners, but for the quality and quantity of the information I can see reasons to think it's actually a bargain.

    I am going to give this 95% on the basis I doubt I'd find this much information, so nicely worded, and presented in a nice bundle, and I think it deserves to charge extra.


    I am not going to lie, this is very well written, but the material is still pretty "heavy" in the beginning. You're not going to read this in a hour, but it's well worth the time to read... several times.  I'm going to grade it based on it's intended audience, those who want to know more. As such, I'm giving it 96%, the minor quibbles I have are offset by the sheer amount of information, and research required to produce a book like this. So I'm only deducting 4%.

    Information Quality:

    As a book written by a professional cheese maker, collaborating with other professional cheese makers who each kindly bring their own speciality to the book, with many of the recipes tested before publication. I'm left to ask.... what more can I as a reader ask for? Since I can only find minor flaws with the gaps, the informational quality is really good. I'm going to give it 98%

    Ease of use:

    This book takes a complex bunch of information sourced from many places, and puts it into one nicely wrapped package. From an intermidiate cheese maker's perspective, it's definitely easier to use than the technical documents, text books, and industry publications that most alternatives would entail. So much so, that interested hobbyists can understand a surprising amount with careful reading and consideration. 

    The recipes are straight forward and for the most part, include both metric and imperial measurements. However, the suggested ways to "tweak" or adjust recipes makes them significantly more versatile while neglibibly increasing their complexity, and learning to become an adaptable cheese maker.

    I'm going to give 91% because Gianaclis has done a wonderful job of gathering and explaining the information, but chapter one hit me hard the first time I read it, and I actually put the book down for a couple of months because I felt I should read other books before this one. If this was a beginner book, I'd mark it down heavily, but because it explicitly isn't, the difficulties I experienced in absorbing such informationally dense material "up front" is more a problem with me, than the book. That said, I think there are several places it could be made easier to use, so I deducted 9% based on the proportion of pages that I found a little harder to process (leaving the remaining 91% as easy to use).

    Range of recipes:

    This is where the raw number of cheeses might be misleading. Sure, 150 pages of recipes, nicely arranged from quick to "aged for years" seems to be much like other books. However, even from the simplest varieties of acid-based cheeses, can be made in a variety of different ways, and each variation can bring a wealth of new possibilities. It's that sense of freedom, and "what happens if I....." that really engages me as a cheese maker. The addition of cheese type based backgrounds and make tips (particularly large batch advice) in the recipe section is also very handy.

    I'm going to give this a solid 97%

    Overall score: 477/500 = 95.4%

    This book aimed higher than many others available today. Answering the question, "Did it achieve its own high-set goals well?" 95.4% when my expectations were raised significantly from the norm is a very respectable result.

    Gianaclis, if you read this, great job!
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    The Art of Natural Cheesemaking by David Asher

    While this book could be described as in introductory, beginner level book. "The Art of Natural Cheesemaking" has a very different approach. The processes in this book specialise in using raw milks, with natural cultures, rather than the industrially isolated, grown, and distributed culture types and often pasteurized milks as seen in every other book here.

    In honesty, this forges a path significantly off the "main stream", and may even be illegal in some places.

    What? Illegal?!

    It's a sad fact, that raw (non-pasteurized) milks are actually illegal to sell in many places. In Australia, it has only recently become commercially available, and is usually sold at considerable premiums to typical milks in store. Not surprising, the standards have to be higher, and even with the best practices involved, raw milk simply has a shorter shelf life.

    I have made many delightful cheeses with raw milk, and I truly enjoy the results a little more than the pasteurized milk offerings. However, you need to understand what you're doing, and the associated risks. It's for this reason, that I don't put this in the beginner class of cheese making books.

    It's up to you to check the laws relating to doing this in your area, and of course, act accordingly. I can make cheese with raw milks for personal consumption, but I can't sell any of it.

    My experience with getting raw milk:

    Ok, for about $7 per litre, you can get raw cow milk from the supermarket. However, that is prohibitive for me. There's also no guarantee that the raw milk is truly fresh. So I've done some research and this is what I've found...

    The dairy that I go to visit in my old home town, will sell raw cows milk for the "farm gate" price of 50c per litre. However, I have to go out there, raid the milk tank myself (or with friends), pour it into buckets, and basically leave my cash in the honesty box. But it's a 400Km round trip for me, and that's a long day. The fuel cost and bags of ice alone ramp the cost per litre up to roughly $1.50 per litre.

    Another one of the dairies I deal with will sell (and deliver) raw milk, but only in 1000 litre IBC containers... for roughly $1.30/L, which would make about 100-130Kg of Parmesan, and maybe up to 350Kg of Quark.... but I just can't move a ton of milk, nor can I store that much milk, let alone cook that much in curds, age that much cheese, or ultimately eat it all.

    I haven't found much affordably-priced raw milk around Canberra, so like me, the availability and affordability are considerations that need to be evaluated before really trying the natural cheese making ideas formed in this book.

    Back to the book...

    This book is designed for people who have one, or a handful of animals they can milk themselves. Great for hobby farmers, but it's fairly unrealistic for many others. However, for you fortunate homesteaders, Permaculturalists, and hobby farmers (perhaps even... farmers?) who have at least learned some cheese making before, then this would be perfect for you.

    The "Art of Natural Cheese Making" discusses some of the issues outlined in the "Reinventing the Wheel" book by the Percivals (linked below in the additional reading section). Concerns about plastic in food preparation, the impact of regulation and industrial practices, ranging from laboratory grown GM cultures on culturally significant cheeses over time, to the welfare of milking animals and the environmental impacts of industrial dairy farming. Another concern David raises is the global control of "culture based food fermentation"... done by a handful of multi-billion dollar companies. Over time, companies such as Danisco (a subsidiary of DuPont), Chr Hansen, BioProx, and others have steadily promoted legislation requiring the use of "pure and safe" cultures, then overtaken the culture market. Now more than one third of every cheese on the planet is made with their cultures. Traditional cheese makers are often left fighting for survival, even though their practices may in fact, be scientifically proven to be both superior, and offer greater safety than the mainstream industrial manufacturers.

    Other issues raised by David, include the near-complete lack of transparency about what we're really eating from industrial processes, and an interesting insight about how milk has long been viewed with suspicion (for potential contamination) then typically damaged (allegedly in the quest for public safety) long before many consumers get it. Reducing any real chance that the milk might be made into great cheese.

    In short, expect a chapter, even a self-proclaimed and thoughtful "manifesto" extolling the benefits of going "back to the good ol' days". With frequent questioning on how things are done these days, and a deeply-ingrained suspicion of all modern cheese making practices throughout the rest of the book.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't think he's a "loon". In fact, I question a lot of what is told to me too, and I am concerned about where it is all heading. All of my training, most of my books, and self study from a variety of sources, teach me to do make cheese the modern way. I get it, it has, afterall, raised the level of safety of low-grade milks and cheeses to the consumer. I also freely admit that it has lowered the best milks, the best cheese makers, and the best practices to a more middling, and unremarkable result.

    Let's face it, it's pretty darn hard to distinguish most commercially made cheeses from one another, in light of global practices of using the same breeds of cows, often using similar industrially produced feeds, the combining, mixing and pasteurizing of milk from various dairies over long distances destroys any identifiable regional flavours. In the processing stages, things don't get any better, the high consistency of legal regulations internationally, and global access to the same limited range of industrial cheese cultures. It's hard to stand out as a cheese maker. Yet still, some are in fact, better than others! Usually due to one of two reasons:
    1. The way cattle are raised and/or the cheese making process involves some form of traditional method where local specialisation can still occur... or
    2. The industrial methodology, has created some way to simulate, or at least approximate some aspect(s) of a specialty cheese.

    Now I don't want to sound like an anti-industrial cheese fanatic. I make cheeses (most often) in an industrial way... just really small scale, and a "little bit quirky". It works for me! 

    That said, there are topics in cheese making that this book makes you reassess....

    The assumption of carpet-bombing-levels-of-sterilization in cheese making is better, (a view held for the last century or so). This is a concept that is now being questioned, and even refuted by evidence-based scientific research in specific situations. However, prudence, caution, and common sense are still required, even in natural cheese making.

    That said, natural cheese making is NOT about encouraging purveyors of "filth" or lobbying for "lax" or "sub-standard" hygiene. Just a reasonably clean environment, aimed at promoting a more diverse microbial ecosystems in cheese. All with the hope that this results in a healthier, tastier cheese... which seems likely to be the case.

    David Asher has taken this one step further, in that this book provides a guide on how to bring back "cheese sovereignty" and more eco-friendly approaches to cheese making. However, it requires access to raw milk, which again puts this out of reach for many people. That said, I've used a few of his techniques with store bought milk and it actually worked, and worked well.

    Now, I'm not saying that David's work isn't worthwhile. In fact, I'm intrigued to try a few of his suggestions. However, other cheese makers have questioned the results given by using kefir grains (instead of official cultures) when making harder-styled (and longer aged) cheeses. I am forced to agree, based on my minor amounts of tinkering so far. However, perhaps David's kefir cultures are more complex than the ones available elsewhere... who knows?

    However, I've tried using an industrial culture + kefir in a harder cheese make. Unfortunately I have a long affinage process to go through in order to see how that goes. In short, I merely tried to steer the make in a direction closer to industrial cheeses using a smaller amount of industrial culture, but with the benefit of a more diverse ecosystem derived from adding a glass of kefir-innoculated milk.... 20 minutes after the introduction of the industrial cultures... but before the addition of rennet.

    I don't agree with everything David says though...

    David suggests that industrial cultures can't stand up to "real world" environments. Sure, you can get an invasive microbe in cheese, (which is true in natural and industrial processes). I don't think industrial cultures are as weak as he suggests. I threw out some scrap Brie curds into my compost, and my compost went completely white. Where there was air and water, there was Geotrichium Candidum! No one would think my compost bin was sterilized beforehand. Now would I eat the cheese curds from the compost? Of course not. But let's face it, the industrial cultures have their own potential for being an invasive species. :~)

    I think a balanced view on natrual cheese making is important. Obviously, David likes doing things his way, it works for him, and he like the results. I have no reason to think that others wouldn't find his guidance useful. That said... I really like using my thermometers instead of sticking my finger into the curds, as David likes to do.

    Stuff I like about this book....

    David does do a lot of good in this book, even if you aren't a "natural" cheese maker. He outlines the simple gear he uses, he dedicates whole chapters to milk, rennet, salt, tools, etc. Rather than the usual paragraph or two. There's something to be said about that.

    This is the only cheese making book (found so far) that includes the instructions to not only make your own charcoal for "ashing" your cheeses, but also includes detailed instructions on how to create a sourdough bread starter, and maintain your kefir grains as well by making a drink for yourself daily. If you're a homesteader, food preserver, or just DIY kitchen guru, then this book has a lot to offer.

    I really like how he outlines his "failures", and the importance of balance. How, cheese making can be as simple, or as complex as you like. The "back to basics" feel does instill a sense of "simplicity" and "achievability", even for beginners. You can use store bought milk in many of these recipes. However, it's not really inkeeping with the natural methodology and ethos of the book.

    Personally, I'd recommend that beginners start of with industrial cultures, just so you know what you're looking for.

    The chapter on Paneer and other types of acid based cheese, is surprisingly useful. David outlines how differing forms of acid (lemon juice, white vinegar, tartaric acid, balsamic/fruit vinegars, and others have a major impact on the final flavour of the cheese, and their resulting applications.

    I like how he acknowledges that people should do things they way they are most comfortable, and even outlines the benefits of some plastic items (such as moulds) even if he doesn't like using them himself.

    He's very clear that this is not a conventional approach, and makes no effort to hide or down-play the importance of this fact.

    There's some really handy guidance in keeping culture "mother" samples alive. This can really help you to save money on industrial cultures (within limits) if you use them. However, this only applies if you make cheese frequently. If you make cheese twice a year, mother cultures are not going to work well for you.

    Quantitative Analysis:

    Cost: 55-85%

    While e-book editions seem to circle around the $35-45 mark, the physical books seem range from $40-$75. For a paperback, 300-odd pages long, with lots of photos... I'd be hesitant to pay the upper end of that range. Honestly, I feel the e-book versions are a little high priced, relative to physical books.

    You get some really great step by step instructions, and some of the best instructions for Paneer and simple Mozzarella, that I've ever seen. But there are fewer recipes than many of the other books. This alone loses 15% at this price point.

    If you can get it at around $40, then I'd give the cost score 85% for an intermediate cheese maker, but the cost score might go as low as 55% if you pay the full high price as a beginner, the units of measurement aren't universally useful...(again, non-specific "packets") although that doesn't surprise me, nor is this book alone in that regard.  However, at the end of the day, I truly do not think that this is a book that will suit everyone.

    Readability: 80%

    David has done a great job here. He explains things clearly, and the book flows fairly well. Will you read this in an afternoon?... probably not. 300 pages is a bit to cover. It is a sedate read, and covers a lot of ground. I think as an augmentation of more mainstream cheese making methods, it's very interesting. However, while caution is encouraged, I feel there are a few descriptions and concepts that could have been included, or better explained. (Deducting 10%) Also, there are a few cheese making basics which I feel would have helped me as a reader... had they been provided. It's a simple fact that this is a less controlled method for making cheese, so more theory would help prepare the reader to expect the unexpected. (Deducting another 10%)

    Information Quality: 80%

    So David is not a professional cheese maker. Many of the simple approaches outlined in his book is reliable, and the cheeses... vary from pretty good to delicious. I haven't tried David's method on every recipe, rather... I've merely augmented my own methods with some of his suggestions. That said, these methods aren't for everyone, and assume access to raw milk, kefir, and that raw milk cheese making is legal... wherever the reader is. Assumptions like this, as well as the unconventional approach make it hard to judge this book like the others.

    On one hand, I want to reward David for "blazing the trail" for others. His Paneer recipe is amazing. On the other hand, the audience it works for is narrower, and I'm not entirely sure the information is without risks.

    Ease of use: 65%-85%

    Again, issues with legalities, access to ingredients, and the brand-specific and vague "packet" based rennet quantities make international readers like me go "how much is that?". Even if I knew the volume of rennet, I don't always know how active/concentrated it is.

    If you're in the U.S or Canada, this might be so easy... probably 85% (losing only 15% assuming you have access to raw milk). That said, for international readers... I'm going to give it 65%. You have to check your own laws, (-10%) you need to find your way around vague quantities (-10%)

    Range of recipes: 85%

    Now this is a tough one again. On one side, he's done this research by himself, and taken a lot of the guess work out of the 30-odd traditional approaches. Additionally, you're getting traditional ways to obtain, grow, and use specific cultures, make your own charcoal (ash) for cheeses, your own sourdough starter (also good for growing while blue moulds for cheeses). None of that is in the other books.

    On the other side, you're paying full price for a book with fewer cheese recipes.

    So I ask myself, for teaching a wide range (albeit low in number) of natural cheese making recipes that should cover most home cheese maker needs... 85% feels right to me.

    Overall score: 355-415/500 = 71-83%

    ..depending on price paid, and whether or not you can get the same (or similar) ingredients as David does.


    If you are interested in natural cheese making, have the milk, and the ingredients, then of course you should get this book. If that's your focus, this is also a cornerstone book that has few (if any) equivalents... anywhere.

    I'd also highly recommend it to intermediate cheese makers for "broadening one's horizons" and for just being able to make the most of your cultures, or at least augmenting them as a cost-saving or experimental path for you to try. The Paneer instructions here are simple, reliable, and it really doesn't matter what type of milk you have.

    Beginners... I'm sorry, I just can't recommend it to you yet. It doesn't quite prepare you for making cheese in all circumstances, even if the trouble making appendix is quite helpful. However, if you simply can't get the industrial cultures, then I'd recommend this book only after reading one (or more) of the other more in-depth cheese making books.

    Additional Readings:

    It should come as no surprise, but cheese making books aren't the only source of useful information for cheese making. Below is a list of books that I've found to be quite helpful in not only understanding of cheese in general, but offered some sort of substantive contribution to my making efforts as well.

    Let's get started...

    Field Guide to cheese

    The Field Guide to Cheese is not going to teach you to make cheese, but it complements many of the other books mentioned here.

    While it doesn't go into the making, it does help with general knowledge of cheeses, their characteristics, and how they might best be served.

    A Field Guide to Cheese, How To Select, Enjoy & Pair The World's Best Cheeses by Tristan Sicard

    This book is "brand new" since the first printing was in September 2020 (I'm writing this section in October 2020). The field guide is for cheese makers and eaters alike. Especially if you/they have any "foodie" tendencies.

    While it is true that Australia is a multicultural society, we don't have a great deal of access to many of the "great" or "local specialty" cheeses available overseas. If buying popular cheeses from abroad is a problem, even hearing about lesser-known alternatives is an even bigger challenge.

    I'm a little embarrassed that as a (hobbyist) cheese maker, there are so many cheeses out there that I have no clue about, and while I'm not likely to be hosting a cheese party anytime soon, I'd like to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge.

    This book is a fantastic overview of the:
    • styles of cheeses that are out there,
    • the historical significance of them,
    • where they are made,
    • what milks are typically used to make them,
    • a brief description of their taste and smell,
    • what wine, beer, juice, and even tea they pair well with,
    • suggested serving suggestions, combinations, and themes.

    That sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

    Perhaps the most interesting bits for the cheese maker is the fact that it includes the typical weight of each wheel/brick of cheese, sometimes even the wheel dimensions (this is important for many varieties of cheese and the affinage/aging process). It also has some handy tips on how to wrap cheeses of different shapes in the back. So this book actually includes information that many cheese making books do not.

    Quirk noted.

    What I found particularly interesting is the cheese making atlas. It literally has maps of varying countries, showing where the differing styles of cheeses are made, and it really gives you some insight into how cheese types were introduced, spread, and adapted from one local area to another over time.

    Now please note, that this isn't a complete cheese atlas. It does not have every country or even continent represented. However, large tracts of Europe, (with a heavy focus on France) are covered, a light sprinkling of cheese makers across the US and Eastern Canada, a handful across New Zealand and for the Aussies out there, it only has some Victorian cheese makers in Australia... with a token dairy (Pyengana) in Tasmania... which is actually a dairy I've been to and tried some of their cheese. Now, I know there are plenty of cheese makers out there in other areas, states, countries and even continents so please don't take this as a comprehensive source. However, for getting an overview of the styles of cheeses out there, this book is very good.

    Some of the other things it teaches you is that while Emmental, Ementhalier cheeses may have differing spellings, they are (if not two neighbouring countries spelling for the same cheese) at least closely related. Conversely, other cheeses which are closely spelled are not quite so similar at all... because one area significantly adapted it from another areas recipe, and changed it into something quite different.

    All in all this is not a hugely technical book. In fact, there are some glaring omissions in the cheese making section (such as curd cutting, and dealing with cultures in only the most general of terms, recipes are completely out, and affinage processes are almost entirely absent) that make it ill suited (by itself) for cheese making.

    That said, I found the book of roughly 270 odd pages surprisingly easy to read. The bulk of the book (section 2, which runs from pages 41 to 191, so 150 pages) splits cheeses into 11 types:
    1. Fresh Cheeses,
    2. Whey Cheeses,
    3. Soft Cheeses with Natural Rinds,
    4. Soft Cheeses with "Bloomy" Rinds,
    5. Soft Cheeses with Washed Rinds,
    6. Uncooked Pressed Cheeses,
    7. Cooked Pressed Cheeses,
    8. Blue Veined Cheeses,
    9. Stringy Cheeses,
    10. Runny Cheeses, and finally,
    11. Flavoured Cheeses.

    ... and is a reference for over 400 (410 by my count) cheeses. So you get roughly 2-3 cheeses per page. Laid out by the eleven sections, each section then lists cheeses in alphabetical order.

    The next section has the cheese atlas, which is well worth looking over, perhaps while nibbling some cheese with your paired beverage of choice. :-) If you don't know how to do that...

    The last few sections are mostly to do with pairing, serving, and wrapping cheeses. Some basic information cheese making, but again it's not in the detail necessary to make cheese.

    If you want a cheese reference and some interesting facts and figures about cheeses, this is definitely worth reading. I can see this as being a "gateway" book (perhaps "tip of the wedge?) that encourages budding foodies into the cheese appreciation and perhaps, cheese making as well. It's also a quirky coffee table book if you like that, and might convince people to try some of the offerings at the local cheese monger, fromagerie, delicatessen, or food market.

    Onto the next book...

    A quirky book for people looking to branch out in their cheese knowledge and enjoyment.

    The Book of Cheese, By Liz Thorpe

    A book that is more about expanding one's knowledge of cheeses, and buying cheeses than making them. However, it does so using commonly available cheeses as a framework for what you might like to try next.

    It should be noted that this is written by a former cheese monger who is now a cheese "consultant" in the U.S. Liz facilitates and recommends cheeses to shops, chains, restaurants etc, so while eating and selling cheeses is "her thing".... making cheeses is something that's not really in her "wheel house".

    The Book of Cheese by Liz Thorpe

    This is an interesting book that's aimed at "foodies" and cheese eaters... more than cheese makers. It is entirely clear about this. I suppose you could describe this as similar to "The Field Guide to Cheese" (reviewed above). Only there is absolutely no cheese making information whatsoever.

    So the basic "gist" is this....

    There are some types of cheeses that are pretty much available everywhere. They may not be made well.. or in the "true" style of their name sakes, but most people can identify these cheeses, and have at least some experience with their "type". Liz calls these "Gateway Cheeses". The book breaks the world of cheese into 10 categories based on each "gateway" cheese, and then describes the many varieties that people might like to try within each category.

    These "Gateway/Category" cheeses (in the order found in the book) are:
    • Mozzarella,
    • Brie,
    • Havarti,
    • Taleggio,
    • Manchego,
    • Cheddar,
    • Swiss,
    • Parmesan,
    • Blue, and finally...
    • the "Misfits".
    Overview of a section:

    There's usually an introductory essay on each family of cheeses which includes expected flavours, textures, occasinally some suggested pairings, what to know, and what to avoid if you see cheeses with particular traits. There's also a section on storage and shelf life. But the text isn't the only thing to look at....

    Tables in each section:

    In each section, there's two tables, each with a different purpose.

    The first table lists each cheese in columns that range from mild flavours to intense (moving left to right). The rows suggest those that are freely available in supermarkets at the bottom, and the kinds you're likely to find in speciality shop at the top. So there's a intensity vs availablility point to the first table. This should help with the buying stage.

    The second "table" usually comes in a flavour and aroma wheel. This describes some of the flavours and aromas you can expect from cheeses in the category. They're usually listed in Lactic (milk like) Fruity, Vegetable, Fungus, Herbs/Plants, Animal, Other Foods, Spices, Atmospherics (salty, smokey, woodsy, etc) and of course, perhaps more helpfully, the "Flaws", (which usually includes a list of attributes that indicate problems like sulphurous/rancid/bitter/putrid smells).

    The list, and arrangement of cheeses...

    Each of these sections lists similar-ish cheeses that are made in that particular "style". However, it is not arranged in alphabetical order (like the the Field Guide) but from gentle/approachable flavours, and works it's way up to intense flavours that may be quite different from the usual types you see in the supermarket.

    I like the fact that this gives you some insight into the variety of cheese, not as an overwhelmingly large list of alphabetically arranged/hardness arranged cheeses, but as a discussion that goes something like:

    "Hey you like blue cheeses? If so, try these ones at the milder end, and these ones if you like it a bit stronger, and these ones over here if you want to take it as far as it goes...."

    It's friendly, helpful, and doesn't require a degree in food science to understand.

    More stuff I like...

    I also like the "flavour intensity scale" at the bottom of each double page, showing where in the "gateway category" you are. There's also some more detailed information about where things come from, how it's made, considerations about it's production, transport, and best eating time.

    Interestingly, the vast majority of "The Book of Cheese" is not about "pairings", nor the best way to serve it, or what it goes well in. There are almost no recipes or typical serving suggestions of any type. It's really a cheese "buying" book. Which I'm sure will drum up additional business for Liz's consultancy business. I feel this book's description of cheeses are significantly better than the field guide, and tells me what I'm looking for when I try a listed cheese.

    With that said.... here comes my rant....

    Liz is not a cheese maker. In fact, she states categorically, that for any type of cheese that isn't ricotta, you're unlikely to make a cheese better at home than what can be bought.

    The cynic in me sees how her statement encourages her business and discourages "home made" competition. "Better" is a subjective thing, as is "what can be bought"... depending on where you live, and the lifestyle you can afford. Home cheese makers might make cheese because they can't splurge on internationally shipped, specialist cheeses, or they simply aren't available where they live... so the cheeses on offer may be the issue, rather than who made them.

    However, I think the other less self-serving reasons for her statement include:

    1. Because freshly-made ricotta (e.g. eaten the same day it's made) is amazing.
    2. It's difficult to transport and sell a product that has such a short shelf life before it goes off.. or dulling the flavour with preservatives.
    3. Ricotta is also at the easier end of the spectrum of cheeses to make.
    ...Hence Liz's recommendation to buy, rather than make.

    Let's think about this a bit deeper for a moment too...

    Ok, so most casual cheese makers, the kind that make one batch "once in a blue moon" are of course not going to be better than someone who makes a specialist cheese on the top of a Swiss mountain with freshest of milks, traditional methods, and a team of experienced, full time 11th generation cheese makers.

    That's like saying that a team of semi trailers can overpower a three year old on a tricycle. True... but also obvious... It's also an unhelpful comparison. It should be stated that even the metaphorical "kids on tricycles" might stumble on a surprisingly effective recipe... and get their little cheesemaking endeavours to where they'd like it. Less guilty about the "food miles", and supporting local milk suppliers. So us little kids on the block may actually succeed in a variety of ways.  Tricycle issues and all...

    Who's to say that Liz, while being great at recommending cheese... just doesn't have the time, interest, experience or skills to make cheese well? Would she really want to after dealing with cheese all day? It might be a bit of a shock going from what she works with, to what she herself, could make.

    Cheekily ended (but harmless) rant over.... back to the book.

    At the end of each category, there's some cheese combinations you might offer as a cheese platter. There are also a few (generally wine) pairings that are also recommended. However, these form a much smaller part of the book compared to the "Field Guide to Cheese".

    The book overall.... starting with the cover from which I do judge this book.

    Now the cover claims...

    "Introducing Gateways: A revolutionary approach to understanding the world of cheese".

    However, let's think about this for a moment....

    Let's say you love Brie/Camembert type cheeses. You go to an up-market cheese monger, deli, or other shop with a range of weird and wacky cheeses to try. You can almost immediately see which cheeses are in the "Brie style". Sometimes, you can ask for a taste of a couple, and you choose your purchase accordingly. Other times, you just "roll the dice", buy a little piece of 2-3 different Brie-like cheeses... and find your preferences that way. So picking cheeses based on what you like, and can already identify partially... is a logical way to go.

    I've been doing that for decades, and seen many others do it too. To call the gateway cheese idea "revolutionary" seems a bit of a stretch. However, as far as cheese books go, I think it's a layout that is helpful to people who just want to branch out a little bit. It clearly reflects Liz's experience and general thought processes when recommending options to customers as a cheese monger.

    Yay for misfits! (I'm a proud member of this category.. just not as a cheese).

    I personally found the "Misfit" cheese section the most interesting, as there are the fewest links to everyday cheeses there. Some are actually closer to a caramel spread than a cheese, others are just "out there". I think it'll intrigue a lot of people. However, it's also the smallest section.


    As a cheese maker (albeit hobbyist) I see real value in the flavour and aroma descriptions, as well as flavour intensity for each cheese within each category. It helps me to choose one recipe over another when I'm making cheese.

    However, that said, many of the listed cheeses are not available locally, so I haven't been able to try many suggested in the book. So the book is really not as helpful outside of the U.S. as it might have been.

    I think as a hard cover, it's a nice book, lots of pretty pictures. It'd be a great addition to a foodie's library, and as either a "gateway book" for cheese eaters to consider becoming cheese makers, when the shops don't have the types you want.

    At 400 pages, it might seem intensive, but it really is quite a relaxed read. It's also good as a reference later down the track, so it's not a "one and done" deal. There's value in that.

    I think both the "Field Guide to Cheese" and this "Book of Cheese" have strengths and weaknesses that compliment each other quite well. If I had to choose which one I'd recommend would depend on your goals and interests. Cheese buying... this book. Cheese knowledge in general, with pairings... probably the Field Guide.

    Cheese makers won't be coming to this as a guide on how to make cheese, but it could be a very good guide on what cheeses to make, or if there's some unexpected results, what cheese in the family could it be best approximated to.... which might give cheese makers an insight into how unusual variations of cheeses are made.

    I'm not going to do a quantitative analysis, as it's not really a cheese making book.
    However, at $51-75 (Australian) It's great for general knowledge and entertainers, but quite expensive as far as cheese making is concerned. However, if you have a budding culinary or cheese "maven" in your household, it might be a perfect gift.

    I hope this helps, and sorry about my rant. Liz, if you ever read this, I think your book is very good, just somewhat limited in scope and perspective. :-)

    Stay safe, and have fun!


    This image for Image Layouts addon

    Milk. Made by Nick Haddow

    Milk. Made could be considered a cheese making book, as a few (usually fresh cheese) recipes are included. However, this book is has far more recipes centred on using milk-based products like yoghurt and cheese as one (or more) ingredients. Along the way are other interesting bits about Australian and international fromagerie stories. It also goes through cheese types, and some of the ways cheese making is done across the world.

    A surprisingly "jack of all trades" book with many cheese related items.

    There are many things that are worthwhile in this book, because it has a little "something" for everyone.

    If you're a....

    • cheese maker, there's some inspiring stories and useful tidbits in there. There are in fact, some cheese recipes in there as well, including fresh style cheeses, yoghurts, butters, and even "white bloomy" cheese. Also, it has a well reasoned outline on the "raw milk debate", and a discussion of "natural" cheese making.
    • budding chef, there's a lot in there for you.
    • cheese maven/social butterfly interested in learning more about buying and using cheese, there's tips in there as well.
    • gift-giver looking for a gift, then there's a ton of beautiful photos, recipes, and interesting stories.
    • person interested in obtaining general knowledge about domestic and international trends in cheese making, laws, the raw milk debate, and how things differ from one country to the next.
    Firstly, lets be absolutely clear here. Milk. Made does have cheese making recipes, but it is not fundamentally, a cheese making book. That said, it has some of the best recipes for using cheeses out of all the books listed here. Taking inspiration from one of the recipes, I used my own cheeses to great effect in sandwiches and simpler meals alike. Unfortunately, my waistline won't let me try all the recipes... so I have a lot left to try.

    Intriguingly, Milk. Made is not about "pairing" the cheeses with wine, beer, or other food-like products. Nor does it talk about cheese boards or the combination of cheeses thereon. It simply has some great recipes supplied by a well travelled chef-now-cheesemaker.

    I think this book puts a much more human approach to milk-based products in general, and you can see this by the human interest stories, the guy who teaches others to start cheese making dairies, the guy who protects certain cheeses from "imitations". The professional affineur (cheese ager) as well as various artisinal cheese makers themselves, dotted all over the globe.

    In short, this is a long way from a simple listing of the facts/cheese recipes of other books. I won't say that the other books don't have interest pieces, but they're a signficantly smaller part of much of the overall structure.

    This book starts with milk, and works its way along through yoghurt, butter, fresh cheeses, soft cheeses, "semi soft" cheeses, bloomy and washed rind cheeses, and of course ends up with the hardest cooked curd cheeses at the back. Recipes for actual cheese making seems to end at the semi-hard cheese section, but recipes for using various cheese types are throughout the book.

    I also really like that fact that it includes recipes on how to use whey in ice blocks, bread and other meals, instead of just "feed it to the pigs" or "put it on your citrus trees".

    It's not often I find a book that's as well rounded, researched, illustrated, and broadly useful to cheese makers, and non-cheese makers alike. I think Nick has done an amazing job at distilling a lot of information about whether raw milk is safer/better than pasteurized milk. I like the explanation of difference between Brie and Camembert. I like the simple, no nonsense approach to making pizza, bread, and a whole host of other delicious meals, as well as some of the concerns we're facing in modern food production, and what that might mean. For instance, how proximity to Paris helped Brie to become so popular, but now with Parisian urban sprawl absorbing the farmland there, "true Brie" is becoming rare.

    If you're looking for something a little "more" than a recipe book, cheese making guide, or just want a "good read", then "Milk. Made" is a solid choice.

    Reinventing the Wheel by Bronwen and Francis Percival

    Reinventing the Wheel by Bronwen and Francis Percival

    While industrial cheese making and intensive farming practices are dominating the global cheese world. Bronwen and Francis are looking at how scientists, small dairy owners, and traditional cheese makers, are challenging commonly held beliefs to improve, and perhaps reinvent the cheese wheel.

    What do I like about "Reinventing the Wheel?" (Note: This section is a work in progress)

    This book is a surprisingly enjoyable and interesting read. Unlike many of the other "additional reading" styled books, this one reads a lot more like a journalistic investigation/documentary on how the global cheese industry became the way it did, the problems facing the industry, and some of the things that we've lost along the way.

    However, it's not all "doom and gloom", in fact, there's a sense of optimism as long-held beliefs are now being challenged with scientific evidence. There are people raising near-extinct breeds of cows for milk diversification. Dairy farmers and cheese makers alike (sometimes they're they same people) are incorporating ecological considerations both in the dairy and microbial settings that are showing great promise of improving cheeses from the homogeneous (and often relatively bland) results of mass-produced stuff found in stores.

    I like how clearly the conflict between regulators and traditional cheese makers has been outlined to great effect. How traditional makers are being pushed to the brink by industrial competition, regulation changes, urban sprawl, and their (occasionally successful) fight to protect their way of life. Yet at the same time, the discussion between them has often been likened to a "war", which is ironic, because fundamentally, both sides are interested in making safe food.

    Most importantly, I like that the science of cheese making has been so thoroughly researched. Only Gianaclis Caldwell has exceeded the detail in her book "Mastering Artisan Cheese Making" (outlined above). Which for a book that does not teach you how to make cheese, this book is pretty amazing.

    If you were on the look out to branch into "natural" cheese making, or at least trying to understand why anyone would wish to do so, this book is probably a pretty good starting point.

    A little relatable Ham story that resonates a bit with this book.
    There the concept of "terroir", meaning that the flavour (in this case of cheese) is identifiably different from cheeses made elsewhere. Factors that create "terroir" include the local history and culture (human and microbial), the environment that the milk producing animals were raised, the breed and health of the animal, and the process by which the milk is turned into cheese.

    Now I've been making cheeses for years now, and some of my recently opened Parmesan (aged for well over a year) was one of the first batches that I made with milk that came from a new dairy I sourced milk from.

    I made three other batches at around the same time, using store bought milk, and milk from yet another dairy. Now there might be some variation in the make (but from my logs, I can say they're very close) so imagine my surprise when the new dairy Parmesan was distinctly different from the others. It had less of the pungent smell caused by the lipase, but stronger flavour. I couldn't tell you what the cows were eating, or even the breed of cow (I'm not going to try to describe "earthy, grassy, or anything of that ilk) but it's very nice, and works beautifully on pastas, and even on a charcoal fired pizza.

    This experience agrees with the assertion that after milk is pasteurized, mixed, and shipped, most store bought milk's flavour from one area to the next is nigh on identical. However, getting milk from a single source, fermenting and aging the cheese seems to amplify the differences substantially.

    This book goes far beyond cheese making, but uses cheese production to describe many aspects of our world. It considers the environmental aspects, the science, the politics, the economics, the individuals, the corporations, and the historical issues. This isn't a simple retelling of issues, it even questions the long-held views regarding safety of traditional versus modern cheese making methods, and seeks the findings of  numerous experts in the field. It even asks, "Does all organic, certified-region-specific, traditionally made cheeses actually surpass the flavour of industrially made alternatives?". Not always!

    I found myself suddenly realising that some of my preconceived ideas needed greater scrutiny. Also, that I had some biases and preconceptions that I wasn't previously consciously aware of.

    Ok, so like at least some of my fellow hobbyist cheese makers out there, I certainly didn't have much of the "Bigger picture" in mind. In fact, my study of the cheese atlas now was probably considered "worldly" by my previous levels of ignorance, but now even that looks simple by comparison.

    I heartily recommend this book, even if it doesn't specifically set out to teach you how to make. It does, however, give you a sense of where you might fit into the cheese making world.... either as a maker or consumer. It gave me time to learn about and consider the competing philosophies out there, and the many pros and cons that each view may involve.

    So what did I get out of all these books?

    So putting it all together, here's how the books interrelate with one another, and what I got out of reading each one. Obviously there's going to be a lot of overlap, but surprisingly, each has a mix of strengths and weaknesses, that are in fact proof that no book is perfect for everything.

    Valerie Pearson's "Home Cheese Making in Australia", and Gavin Webber's "Keep Calm and Make Cheese" are clearly aimed at Australians. They offer insight into Australian suppliers, as well as what is possible at the hobbyist level with little investment.

    Gavin's e-book (or printed version) is particularly good for beginners who are time poor and on a budget, or not sure if cheese making is the hobby for them. It also keeps things manageable, and uses a lot of gear that you probably already have. I particularly liked the videos and Gavin's site for additional information. In this sense, it's quite innovative, and helpful to watch the make videos before starting.

    For me, I really liked Gavin's extra ingredients/marinading techniques that were included in the recipes. For such an easy-to-read book, the recipes were surprisingly interesting, and in some ways, went in slightly different directions to other beginner books.

    Valerie's book has far more recipes in it, and the information is certainly more developed. I learned the variability of cultures from Valerie... However, when it comes to making the recipes it's more work to calculate culture doses. Couple this with the fact that Valerie's book itself is more expensive, and I humbly suggest that beginners would find it cheaper and easier elsewhere. That said, there are some really interesting recipes in it, so as a reference, it's great for intermediate cheese makers.

    Gianaclis Caldwells "Mastering Basic Cheese Making" is a beginner book that I'd definitely recommend. It has a decent range of recipes, is well written, and will teach you more than Gavin's and Valerie's options. However, each recipe builds on the knowledge from previous ones, so you need to make it in order. Also, it doesn't link to suppliers outside of the U.S.

    Gianaclis' "Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking" is the next step, and takes you even further again. This is really where many hobbyist cheese makers will end up. If I had to describe it, it's cheese science, processes, and strategic problem solving. Recipes are included, but it's more to illustrate the teachings than simply to make the cheeses. There's more cheese making knowledge to be had in this book than most of the others combined. That said, there are gaps, and the other books do a fair job of addressing most.

    Mary Karlin's "Artisan Cheese Making at Home" offers a more practical approach to cheese making, in that it includes the often-skipped tips, tricks, and real-world techniques that you might employ as a result of the strategic problem solving provided by Gianaclis' more advanced book". That said, it stands as a beginner book in it's own right, and is perhaps the most beautifully presented cheese making book I've seen so far. So it'd be great as a gift and/or coffee table book.

    If Gianaclis is about theory and adaptability, Mary adds additional techniques that aren't always covered. Also a few alternative strategies that Gianaclis didn't cover in depth (or at all).

    Ricki Carroll's "Home Cheese Making" offers other ideas, additional tips and tricks based on extensive experience. It's clearly best suited to those on the North American continent, but gives insight into "the how" by offering "the why", and "what the results will be like" if you do certain things. Often as warnings, or just ways to improve things before you get started.

    Tristan Sicard's "A Field Guide to Cheese", despite not setting out to be a cheese making book, actually has some of the best instructions on how to wrap bloomy rind cheeses in their aging papers. This is important when you pack cheeses up at the end of your party.... but could easily apply to the make process as well.

    It also has some very helpful serving suggestions, pairing, combining cheeses into a platter, and how to incorporate cheeses into your everyday life.

    I particularly liked the "Cheese Atlas" section, where different cheeses are mapped across Europe and beyond. However, the "field guide" is perhaps best known for it's dictionary styled cheese reference section. Alphabetically arranged, with history, origin, description of flavour profile, as well as visual characteristics.

    This helped me to at least glance at cheeses I've never heard of before, and to confirm that some of the names I've heard before are in fact, cheeses.

    Liz Thorpe's "Book of Cheese" is fundamentally, a cheese buyer's guide. However, it describes what to look for, what problems might exist in each type of cheese, and this is really handy to a cheese maker who's trying to figure out if an experimental cheese is just weird naturally, or if it has gone awry.

    I also found it really helpful to see which cheeses in a particular family are milder in flavour, or stronger... which ones are easily attainable, and which are bespoke, boutique, or rare to find. As a cheese maker, knowing that some cheeses can taste differently to my expectations and still be perfectly fine... just perhaps a local speciality, or the same theme with a twist, gives me more confidence as a maker, and a greater understanding of the thousands of cheeses out there. It also inspires me to reach beyond my comfort zone.

    The investigative journalism approach by the Percivals in their book "Reinventing the Wheel:  Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese", complimented both David Asher's book, considering the role of traditional cheese making methods in a world dominated by industrial processes. Along with Nick Haddow's "Milk. Made" depicting a lot of interest pieces about people related to cheese production around the world. It also linked in with the Cheese atlas found in Tristan Sicard's "A Field Guide to Cheese". Many other books have case studies of cheese makers around the world, but this book provided such international and historical perspective, that it also linked to the antique cheese making books I've managed to procure. In short, this book, is the glue that really helped me to "piece together" the information from most, if not all of the other books.

    David Asher offered great insight with "The Art of Natural Cheesemaking", regarding traditional methods, the use of raw milk, and "back to basics" approach to fermenting foods, from sourdough to cheese, even making your own charcoal. If you're a die-hard homesteader, or off-grid dweller, there's a lot to like in this book.  That said, while it offers a compelling alternative to industrial cheese making processes, it's not universally recommended or even legal in some places. That said, this is a cornerstone book in its own right, as it tries to "bring back" some of the lost information.

    There you have it, I'll add more to this section as I review more books.

    Stay tuned!

    More books will be following. I have about a dozen that I've used to varying degrees. However, I make no promises on particular deadlines. That said, if you know of a book I haven't added, or a different view on one I have... please contact me and let me know! (I may add it to the article for a wider perspective).

    Stay safe and happy cheese making!

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