Cheese Making Book Review – “200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes, 2nd Edition”

Most people I have come across in the cheese making world have heard of Debra Amrein-Boyes’ book “200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes”, it was one of the first books I read when I started making cheese.   In September of this year an updated second edition was released with some new information including a new trouble shooting guide and a few more.  It was a freezing night when the courier dropped off my package and I could not wait to start reading this new book.IMG_1795I noticed right away that this one was thicker and had a nicer looking cover than the first edition, but you should never judge a book by its cover.  I have read many a pretty book that was horrible and some drab looking books that were fantastic.  But in my opinion this book does not disappoint and I found I like the second edition better than the first.

Some of the things I really liked were

  • A pH marker chart – it gives you the general pH markers for specific types of cheeses.
  • A colour “How To Guide” for various types of cheeses i.e. soft cheese, hard milled etc
An Example of one of the "How To" guide pages.

An Example of one of the “How To” guide pages.

  • And the afore mentioned Trouble Shooting Guide.
  • The suggestion to play around with different moulds (shape and size) was one I took to heart with my latest Caerphilly.

    A Caerphilly that was pressed in a basket mould.

    A Caerphilly that was pressed in a basket mould.

There are a quite a few things that are the same from the First Edition, but that was not a bad thing to me.  There was not much that could be changed in the recipes, but they were organized better in this edition.  With a section for each style of cheese (soft/bloomy rind/blue etc) and a section for so-called “ethnic” cheeses, as well as butter and yogurt.

Speaking of the recipes, there is the same listing of culture types as in the First Edition, it only says either Mesophilic or Thermophilic cultures, not specific cultures.  A friend of mine contacted Debra Amrein-Boyes about this and was told that this was done to allow the reader to uses a culture of their choice not just what the author says to use.  Some have found this to be a hindrance with their cheese making and a deal breaker with both editions.  I personal think it is a brilliant idea as it gets the reader to do some more research into the cheese they want to make, it has them look at cultures as more than just Mesophilic or Thermophilic in general but what certain types of cultures will bring to the cheese.  Maybe I am reading too much into the intent.  I am making an Emmental using her recipe and through some research I found a few of the more traditional cultures used.  I will be writing up my experience in another post.

Overall I am glad I bought this book, and I would recommend it to people, but only to those who want to put in some “leg work” to pick a culture that would go best with the cheese you want to make.  Is it worth getting if you already have the First Edition?  I would say yes , if only for the “How To Guide”, “Trouble Shooting Section” and pH Markers.  If you are happy with the First Edition, which is a fine book, you don’t have to run out and get this one.  I will be honest, I don’t own a copy of the First Edition, so owning this one was a must for me.

As always these were my own opinions on this book and ultimately it is up to you if you want to get “200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes, 2nd Edition”

Until next time go and make some cheese.

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3 comments

  1. Excellent review, Ian… yes – the culture issue would be a deal breaker for someone like me unless I knew someone like you. Research is one thing, but discussing is another. Personally, I believe she absolutely should have identified very specific cultures for each recipe with the caveat that any other of this type would make a good cheese, but a different cheese… with explanation on her part. The research should not be necessary and the information should be available be in her own book.
    Happy New Year!
    Valerie

  2. Happy New Year to you to Valerie
    I agree with you, I have had some friends blindly use certain cultures and it end with an inedible cheese. Mind you there are some that I have made with a non traditional culture and have turned out great, but at that stage in my cheese making I can chalk it up to sheer dumb luck.

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