Awhile back I happened upon cheesemaking kits for sale at Alberta Co-op in Portland. Made by Urban Cheesecraft, these packages contain all of the items you'll need to make cheese at home: rennet, cheesecloth, cheese salt, citric acid, a thermometer and perhaps most importantly, directions! I loved them immediately and had to find out who was behind these gems.
Claudia Lucero is a crafty, entrepreneurial sort - the kind of creative person who makes her own clothes and ferments her own sauerkraut. She's a former social worker originally from San Diego who currently works as Director of Operations at the Rock n' Roll Camp for Girls. She says that she got the idea for starting her company when she was looking for local sources for cheesemaking materials. While she found that she could pick up disparate supplies here or there (or order from the East Coast) there was a scarcity of resources for making cheese. From idea to reality took a few months, but she's put together several types of cheesemaking kits - Queso Blanco, Goat Cheese/Chevre and Mozzarella/Ricotta - which are now available for sale online as well as in several Portland stores (see list below).
Lucero started Urban Cheesecraft at a good time; she's managed to hit a sweet spot in the evolving world of making stuff at home...these days it seems like almost everyone is brewing, fermenting and canning and if you're doing that kind of thing, it's not much of a stretch to make your own cheese as well. Her kits take the guesswork out of making cheese and allow users to concentrate on having fun - the most important part!
Urban Cheesecraft kits are available in Portland at some New Seasons stores, Alberta Co-op, Foster & Dobbs, Urban Farm Store, Mirador, or order online from the Etsy store here. Each kit contains enough materials to make 10 batches of cheese....all you have to do is supply the milk. You can also find Urban Cheesecraft at the Montavilla Farmer's Market in Portland on Sundays. Follow the Urban Cheesecraft blog here.
Claudia Lucero will also lead a cheesemaking demonstration at 11am at The Wedge Festival in Portland on October 3rd.
[photo courtesy Claudia Lucero]