My cooking instincts are rather natural (e.g., sourcing ingredients from the local market, eating sustainable seafood, buying free-range-all-natural poultry, and I certainly love a steroid free steak) but THIS is a whole other level of “natural” – Mommy’s Milk, from a human mommy, not a cow, sheep or goat ...
(a visual taste of my cheese making experience...maple caramelized pumpkin encrusted cheese with texurized concord grapes)
I came about mother’s milk when our daughter celebrated her 4th week birthday -- my spouse is feeding our baby with breast milk. We are fortunate to have plenty of pumped mommy’s milk on hand and we even freeze a good amount of it – my spouse actually thinks of donating some to an infant milk bank which could help little babies in Haiti and such but for the meantime (the milk bank requires check-ups which takes a little while) our small freezer ran out of space. To throw it out would be like wasting gold.
(packed frezzer with mommy's milk in specialized bags)
Cheese is produced throughout the world in different flavors, textures, and forms from various animals’ milk such as goat, cow, sheep and even horse.
Cheese is valued for its portability. Depending on the cheese it has a longer shelf life compared with fresh milk since cheese is aged. Different flavors depend on the origin of the milk and diet of the milk host. Cheese is made with relatively high heat (bacteria safe) or non pasteurized milk, which alters its flavor. Sometimes cheeses are smoked, layered with ashes and leaves such as herbs and rubbed with alcohol such as wine or beer or salt which prohibits bacteria growth. Cheese imbedded with spices such as cumin or fragrant mushrooms such as truffles can make a cheese shine.
All that, my over stuffed home freezer and my natural cooking instincts made me think of making cheese out of (human) mother’s milk.
My Spouse’s Mommy Milk Cheese Making Experiment
(basic recipe using 8 cups of any milk - yields about ½ pound cheese)
2 cups mother’s milk
2 cups milk (just about any animal milk will work)
1½-teaspoon yogurt (must be active cultured yogurt)
1/8-tablet rennet (buy from supermarket, usually located in pudding section)
1 teaspoon sea salt such as Baline
1. Inoculate milks by heating (68 degree Fahrenheit) then introduce starter bacteria (active yogurt) then let stand for 6 – 8 hours at room temperature, 68ºF covered with a lid. Bacteria will grow in this way and convert milk sugar (lactose) to lactic acid. You can detect its presence by the tart/sour taste.
2. After inoculating the milk heat to 86 degrees Fahrenheit then add rennet (I use tablets which I dissolve in water) and stir throughout. Cover pot and don’t disturb for an hour until “clean break stage” is achieved, meaning with a clean spoon lift a small piece of curd out of the milk - if it is still soft and gel-like let pot stand for an hour longer. If curds “break clean” cut with a knife into a squares (cut inside the pot a ½-inch cube pattern).
3. Raise temperature slowly continuously stirring with a pastry spatula (this will prevent clumping of cut curd). This is what I call the “ricotta stage” if you like this kind of fresh cheese – here it is. For cheese with a little bit more of texture heat curds to 92 degree Fahrenheit - for soft curd cheese, or as high 102oF for very firm cheese. The heating of the curd makes all the difference in the consistency of the cheese. When heated the curd looks almost like scrambled eggs at this point (curd should be at bottom of pot in whey liquid).
4. Pour curd through a fine strainer (this will separate curd from whey) then transfer into a bowl and add salt and mix with a pastry spatula (this will prevent curd from spoiling). Whey can be drank - it is quite healthy and its protein is very efficiently absorbed into the blood stream making it a sought-after product in shakes for bodybuilders.
5. Give curd shape by lining a container with cheese cloth (allow any excess of cheese cloth to hang over edges of container). Transfer drained, warm curd in the cheese cloth lined container (I used a large plastic quart containers like a large Chinese take- out soup container and cut 4 holes in the bottom with the tip of my knife). Fold excess cheese cloth over top of cheese then weight curd down (with second container filled with water or such) then store in refrigerator (14 hours or so – put container into a second larger container – this will catch draining whey liquid).
6. Take pressed curd out of container (flip container upside-down then unwrap carefully not to damage structure of pressed curd). Rewrap pressed curd with new cheese cloth then age in refrigerator for several weeks (cheese will form a light brown skin around week two – this is normal). Age cheese longer for a more pronounced/sharper cheese flavor.
(HERE IT IS mommy's milk cheese with beets and romaine)
Chef’s Note: Cheese has to be rewrapped daily as long cheese cloth feels wet.
Chef’s Note: Curdling is the process when milk is separated into solid (curds) and liquid which is done by introducing acids such as vinegar or a starter bacteria commonly found in yogurts. Rennet (enzymes from the fourth stomach from young calves stomach which breaks down mother milk) is added too so that milk develops strong curds in the cheese making process.
(mommy's milk cheese rolled in dehydrated porcini mushroom powder with burned onion chutney)
Is it OK
I was concerned a little bit with the thought of making cheese out of mother’s milk. I wondered if it was ethical - since I haven’t seen it on any restaurant menu yet.
Conclusion – my spouse agreed -- our baby has plenty back-up mother’s milk in the freezer so whoever wants to try it is welcome to try it as long as supply lasts (please consider cheese aging time).
I want to make it perfectly clear: The mommy's milk cheese was not produced in my restaurant nor was it sold or offered there - as misstated in some media.
(my daughter Arabella/Caroline...nurtered with plenty of mommy's milk...until asleep)