Brown cheese is not actually cheese and it certainly doesn’t taste like cheese but it is cheese-like and that’s good enough for me. Plus it was invented by a teenage girl in Norway who set out to save her rural valley from financial ruin in the 1800s. Her name was Anne and she decided to add cream to whey and boil it down until it had a fudge-like consistency. People liked it and she started producing it commercially. Later, she added goat milk to the mix to give it a distinctive tang. Now it’s practically the national food of Norway. You go girl!
Brown cheese was introduced to me by a teenage girl from Norway (not Anne!). The first time I tasted it, I thought it must be full of artificial ingredients. Not-Anne didn’t think so and she was right. It contains only whey, milk (goat and/or cow) and cream. I associated it with junk food because the flavour reminded me of Kraft Dinner. Checking the ingredients in Kraft Dinner, I noticed that whey is a key ingredient. Interesting. Very interesting.
If you ever make ricotta cheese, you’ll get a lot of whey as a by-product. Is it worth it to turn it into brown cheese? I set out to answer that very question.
Following a recipe found on the internet, I boiled a potful of whey for 2-3 hours, then added 1/2 cup of cream and cooked it until it had the consistency of gravy. According to the recipe, the homemade brown cheese was now ready. Not to be funny or anything but how can this possibly be called brown cheese? I will say that if cheese is added and cooked macaroni folded in, a very authentic homemade Kraft Dinner emerges. Your kids will love it.
For the second batch, I went rogue and decided to figure it out for myself. I mixed a lot of whey with raw cow’s milk and cream. I set the mixture on the stove and reduced it for a few hours. My brown cheese is harder and slightly grainier than commercial brown cheese but at least it’s firm enough to slice with the requisite brown-cheese slicer. It also tastes just like store bought brown cheese.
Is it worth making? Only if you have a lot of whey you want to process and a plan to spend the afternoon in. On the plus side, homemade brown cheese will keep for weeks if not months and it freezes well.