More than just an gifted lactic autodidact, David Asher is also a farmstead cheesemaker, organic farmer and goatherd who lives what appears to be an almost disturbingly idyllic life on the gulf islands of British Columbia.
In The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, Asher explores traditionally-cultured, farmstead methods of cheesemaking, urging his readers to craft their own locally-expressive indigenous cultures.
In the introduction of the book Asher assays the full scope and successive stages of milk’s more soulful expression as cheese, from the very dawn of its culture, through the quickening and thickening action of rennet, to the influence of salt, tools, handling techniques, and of course the profound transformation of aging.
Each of the fourteen chapters examines a particular class of cheese, from kefir and paneer to washed-rind and alpine styles offering various recipes and sundry cheese-wrangling tips (never sneak up on a Brie, for example), to hints on proper handling and storage.
The Art of Natural Cheesemaking is also an inspiring work for aspiring homesteaders and off the grid gastronomists seeking freedom from the tyranny of Big Dairy. Asher promotes the use of ethical animal rennet, eschews laboratory-grown freeze-dried cultures, and warns of the spectre of GMO tech looming over cheesecraft and the steps we can take to avoid its grasp.
Cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality.-Clifton Fadiman