Largely a lactic autodidact, David Asher is also a farmstead cheesemaker, organic farmer and goatherd who lives what strikes me as a 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 readers to craft their own locally-expressive and indigenous cultures.
In the introduction of the book Asher assays the full scope and stages of milk’s more soulful expression as cheese, from the very dawn of culture through the quickening and thickening of rennet, to salt, tools, handling techniques, and even 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. The book also offers up both recipes and tips to proper cheese wrangling (never sneak up on a Brie I always say), to valuable hints on handling and storage.
Perhaps most importantly, The Art of Natural Cheesemaking is an inspiring work for aspiring homesteaders and gridless-gastronomy advocates celebrating their independence from the tyrrany of Big Dairy. Asher promotes the use of ethical animal rennet, protests the use of laboratory-grown freeze-dried cultures, and warns of the shadow of GMO tech now looming over cheese and steps we can take to avoid it.
Cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality.-Clifton Fadiman