The Creamery Kitchen: Discover the age-old tradition of making fresh butters, yoghurts, creams and soft cheeses
by Jenny Linford
Rayland Peters & Small, London 2014
I was so excited when I first saw this book. I had been making my own ricotta for some time now and have made yoghurt in the past, and I felt it time to expand my diary horizons. Upon getting the book, I quickly read through the 120 or so pages. The core of this book and its real value is the recipes for making fresh dairy products (not considered real cheeses) – all shown to good effect in photographs of creamy whites and buttery yellows.
Jenny Linford spends a short time at the beginning of the book discussing the ins and outs of creating your home creamery. The topics include the dairy environment (with specific emphasis on cleanliness), the types and properties of milk, and lists (surprisingly short) of other ingredients and equipment required (with sources and suppliers for North America and the UK listed at the end of the book). Eleven chapters follow, each detailing a specific dairy product: butter, buttermilk, sour cream, crème fraîche, yoghurt, labneh, cream cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta, mascarpone and feta-style cheese. Those chapters are structured to describe the product, provide instructions on how to make it, and then give at least three recipes that make use of the product. The recipes using the dairy are interesting if not (in my opinion) exceptional, and range from starters to main meals to sweets. Of course, all beautifully photographed.
I made it a personal policy that when posting about books on food that I would concentrate on the positive. That, of course, did not mean overlooking any flaws a book might have. This book has many positives – such as the simple instructions for making buttermilk or crème fraîche, the easy to follow recipes that use these ingredients, and its lovely layout and photographs. It, however, does have a tendency to make the production of some of the fresh dairy products appear a bit too easy. I found this out the hard way with the most complex recipe in the book – making feta cheese. My experiences were detailed in my post, Rennet Experiments.
Given its pluses and minuses, I’m glad that I purchased the book and will no doubt consult it again in future when I have the urge to make buttermilk or sour cream. Although I will take into account lessons learned in dealing with rennet when making any dairy product that uses this ingredient. It is a wonderful experience starting with milk or cream and being able to change these into a number of different subtle flavours and textures by adding a few drops of lemon or vinegar, by heating, by agitating or whipping, or by letting it sit and mature in the right environment. Linford was right the process of “transforming cream into butter and milk into yoghurt…are wonderful acts of kitchen magic”.