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Cheesemaking and Cooking Newbie here looking for advice

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hello All.

As some of you know by looking at the Pastry forum-- I have caught cooking fever.

I have expressed my fervor for baking over at the Pastry forum, and am here to express my fervor for cheese making and cooking in general- but I also have a few questions.

Along with Bread and pastry making-- I want to make my own cheese, from goats and cows.

I also want to make my own lunchmeat/cold cuts/ deli meat.

So my question to you all is... what type of cooking equipment does one need touse?

My budget is 800$ or below for any single piece of equipment.

The Keywords in the cookware that I am looking for is absolutely ESSENTIAL, not limited in variety (i.e. I can make any lunchmeat that I want without limitations-- same for cheese) and TRADITIONALLY RELIABLE-- meaning that I kind of want to steer away from electric products that are made for lazy people that CONSTNTLY break down on people. The way our parents parents before us, used to cook without problem is what intrigues me.

I am DEFINITELY shooting for quality over convenience folks, and do not mind working hard with my hands for a GREAT QUALITY END PRODUCT. But I do understand that in some instances electrical appliances DO need to be used.

I am so in love with food -- I think I will sign up for culinary school... LOL

I just want to get really good at mastering the art of cooking and great HOME FOOD for my kids one day because of the disgusting processing being done in fast-food places.
post #2 of 12
$800 WILL BARELY SCRATCH THE SURFACE. You need a good meat grinder not the toys you buy in dept. stores. A steamer, a good size fridge. different heads for grinder. a smoker.a pump of soughts. access to a huge variety of herbs and spices, nitrates and nitrites for preserving. Plus most important a knowlege of meat cuts and chemistry.
Somethings and Sometimes it is better to let the pro s do it. Look for a hi quality brand like Boars Head cold cuts
post #3 of 12
An incredibly high percentage of cold cuts are sausages in one form or another. So you will have multi-tasking equipment for that, once you amass it. The prime need here will be a good grinder, with an assortment of heads; and either a sausage stuffing accessory for it or separate stuffing machine.

Before buying anything, however, I would get a book or two on sausage making, so you understand the process. And don't forget there are both fresh and cured (i.e., dry)cold-cuts, which are stored differently.

When you get away from the sausage types, into the single-cuts-of-meat kind, then you're involved in curing, brining, smoking, processes like that. Which often (not always) means different equipment again.

Despite all this, get out of the Alton Brown mindset of multi-tasking equipment only. Because there are some things that only do one job, albiet doing it better than anything else. This will apply especially with the concept "(i.e. I can make any lunchmeat that I want without limitations." It's not gonna happen unless you branch out in terms of gear. Or unless your "any lunchmeat I want" is limited in scope.

I'd say your best bet is to start small. Choose one type of cold cut, and learn to make it well. Then explore variations of it, building on your experience and acquiring equipment as it's needed.

Speaking only for myself, I wouldn't want to start making both my own cold cuts and my own cheese at the same time. There's an awful lot to learn with both of those, and I'd want to concentrate on one or the other.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
WOW! I must SAY that both of these post CERTAINLY BLEW ME AWAY... Thank you for your MUCH needed advice you guys. I will repl;y to both of you shortly.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

800 Dollars will only "scratch" the surface?


This is REALLY disturbing and profound...lol...

BACK to the drawing board.

I guess I am going to need to go to cooking school to learn this stuff, huh?

This REALLY sets me back.. but I am still DETERMINED to be able to create my own lunchmeat. So what would you assume is the most logical cousre for a beginner like me to pursue? Cooking/Culinary school perhaps?
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
WOW! Such profound knowledge... Do you think the best bet is for me to learn this stuff is for me to go to Culinary school?
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks a BUNCH Sir's. Your words I am TRULY grateful for. Seriously.

I am really trying to get good at cooking and making my own food taste superior to that of restaurant food.

Do you think culinary school is a must for this? I am not trying to get a degree nor be a professional chef or trying to get a job as a cook-- but I want to cook GREAT FOOD.
post #8 of 12
In your circumstances I would think very carefully before committing to culinary school. They're very expensive, to begin with. And they are based on a curricula designed to produce professionals.

What I'm saying is that culinary school, per se, may be more than you need.

However, nothing wrong with attending specific classes in the subjects that interest you. For instance, you might take a class in sausage making. Sometimes these are taught at culinary schools. Sometimes in people's homes. Sometimes in other venues.

I think that would serve your needs better.

I also think that the best way of learning to cook is to cook. When I teach people I start with instructing them in basic techniques, and then recommend they use that technique often until they're very comfortable with it.

After learning the techniques, my recommendation is that they then take an opposite approach, and use all those techniques with the same food product.

For instance, what happens if you take a chicken breast and run it through the changes? How is the flavor, texture, mouthfeel etc. affected by pan frying as compared to sauteing, as compared to baking, as compared to poaching? How do those same things differ using a whole breast vs a skinless-boneless one? What about breaded vs non-breaded?

Learning to cook is a precess of repitition. Once you're comfortable with the how-to, the creative aspects kick in.

Keep in mind, too, that much of this requires time in grade. You cannot start something today and expect to have 20 years experience by tomorrow. The classic example of this is knifework. Let's say you have just learned the pinch-grip method of chopping herbs. You will be slow at it. And maybe a little awkward. And your "mince" with be ragged. But tomorrow you'll be a little faster, and your mince a little finer. And next week you'll be faster yet, with more control. Etc.

So it is with cooking overall. Take it slow. Become fully conversant and comfortable with what you're trying to accomplish. And, all of a sudden, you'll find that you're really cooking.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #9 of 12
serious, but small 1000 watt grinder with different blades Uniworld, approx $200.....

If you are breaking down animals a bone saw $40, and a boning knife....I use henkels $70ish

Sausage can be piped into casing

Ed not all sausage has nitrites and nitrates, though most do.

Check out Bruce Aidell's sausage books, they will go through basic recipes

Cheeses.....well the fresh cheeses are very easy.....alittle acid and milk.....
I had an AHA, there is a heck of alot more to this than meets the eye moment when a couple of buddies and I made feta, cheddar and a gouda.

One of my friends was the head Food Scientist at Purinea, the other was a foodie sheep farmer academic......well and I cook, from scratch and explore alot, and know good cheese.
Making great cheese and making great bread, are similar.....it is an art....after spending some time playing around making mediocre cheese it became clear that I would leave that experience to others and purchase the "good shtuff"
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #10 of 12
Northern Tool electric meat grinder $129 (and it comes highly recommended from people o the BBQ forum who make a lot of sausage), 5 pound stuffer from the same source, $89. Cures, casings, smokers etc are all available from several online sources, Butcher Packer is one. Smokers will really depend on how much you want to make at a time and how hands off you want the process to be. At the low end the Luhr Little Chief smoker is around $100 and the prices go up from there. Do you need an insulated smoker because you live where its cold? Add more money. I haven't done a lot of cheese making so I can't help there :lol:
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you shroomgirl and MaryB and Ky Heirloomer for your thought-provoking interactions.

But If I may-- I do have ONE last question.

This PROCESS of preparing an assortment of meats and making various lunchmeat-- is it called "Charcuterie" or "Butchery"?

I am asking so, because I would like to get a book on studying this and getting in-depth information and am considering getting a job that teaches me all of this stuff so I seriously need to know which occupation this is. Or should I do both?
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
And speaking of this steamer and smoker Ed mentioned-- Are they specialized pieces of equipment, or can I just use a stockpot with a strainer for steaming and my Big Green Egg grill that is EXCELLENT at smoking/barbecuing for smoking?
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