Cheese may just be a delicious piece of curdled milk to some of you, but do you know that it has tonnes of nutritional values?
According to Healthline
, cheese is a great source of calcium, fat, and protein. It also contains high amounts of Vitamin A and B-12, along with zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin
Plus, cheese made from the milk of 100 percent grass-fed
animals boasts the most amount of nutrients, as they also contain omega-3 fatty acids
and vitamin K-2
There's no wonder that cheese is a much-loved food item across the world.
Malaysians' love for cheese
In Malaysia, although we may not really think about the nutritional values of cheese when devouring a piece (or two), we do take the love for cheese a notch higher by practically drenching everything in the gooey goodness.
Don’t believe us?
Think of ‘Pisang Goreng Cheese’, ‘Apam Balik Cheese’, ‘Kek Cheese Leleh’, ‘Murtabak Cheese’, ‘Roti John Cheese’, ‘Burger Bakar Cheese leleh’ and even ‘Lemang Cheese’. We guess you get the drift.
With so many cheesy dishes we can find around us, and considering the fact that most high quality cheeses always come from overseas at mind boggling prices, locally produced artisan cheeses are much sought after.
Alas, there is only a handful of people who can meet the demand. One of them is Annisa Iwan
, the owner of homemade cheese business, Milky Whey Cheese
recently caught up with the busy cheese geek to get a taste of her life.
Cheese is life
Annisa does not only love eating cheese like the rest of us, she also loves to make her own.
The idea to make her own cheese was not by chance though. Annisa, who hailed from Jakarta, Indonesia, used to travel a lot with her family to countries like Italy and France where she discovered delicious cheeses, way tastier than those she had at home.
She was especially intrigued with the Italian Mozzarella and wanted to recreate it at home.
She began scouring the Internet and books to research about the process of making homemade cheese. She practiced making Mozzarella with what little knowledge she had, so you guessed it, there were a lot of trial and error.
Somehow, she still could not get the same taste that she had in Italy. Not giving up, she ventured deeper in search of knowledge.
Her search led her to an online cheese-makers’ forum consisting of cheese makers from all around the world, and from there, she gained a lot more knowledge.
One of the things she learnt was that Mozzarella was not a cheese for beginners, but that didn’t stop her from trying to make it.
In 2014, when her husband got transferred to Malaysia, her whole family moved here. That also included her hobby.
She utilises the third floor of her house as her little cheese making factory, as she churns of one cheese after another.
Soon, her whole house was filled with cheese. No matter how much her family consumes, there would still be tonnes of it in storage. After all, how much cheese can one eat?
That was when she decided to sell some of her produce.
“My much-loved hobby was very addictive. I kept on making more cheese and I was running out of space to store them. The business happened out of the need to make space for my newly made cheese that I kept on producing,” she told us.
Full-time cheese business
As one can imagine, that was how the aptly named Milky Whey Cheese was born. Her cheese production remains small and artisanal and she enjoys making experimental cheese batches from time to time.
Annisa is now entering her eighth year in the cheese-making business.
“I was a stay at home mom with a PR background prior to this and now I enjoy making cheese. My house is just full of cheese,” she said.
Annisa explained that she makes a variety of cheeses, without focusing just on one.
“We make Gouda-style, some British-style like the Lancashire, Caerphilly and Double Gloucester, some washed rind in the style of Raclette, Tilsit, St Paulin, Reblochon and Taleggio.
“And then there’s some goat’s cheese in the style of Manchego, Montasio and soft chévre. Also a few soft bloomy rinds like Brie, Chaource, Neufchatel, Valençay, and so on,” she said.
Despite the fancy names indicating fancy cheeses, Annisa also makes cheese with local flavours infused in them. In fact, these unconventional cheese with local flavours are often her bestselling ones.
“Sarawak and chili padi Gouda are probably my bestsellers.”
Annisa said that one of the most important things in making cheese is the quality of the ingredients.
Since she doesn't own any cows of her own, she sources the milk directly from farms located in Banting, Tanjung Malim and Serdang, telling us that she uses up to 200 litres of milk a week.
As Annisa is very particular about the milk she uses to make cheese, she ensures that she visits every farm she sources her milk from to check on their cleanliness and what the cows are being fed with.
How's that for dedication?
It started off as a hobby, but her little experimental business has been getting more traction - more than Annisa expected, actually.
“We have a good mix of customers and I am so grateful for that. Malaysians have been my biggest and best supporters and most of them are not at all afraid to try new types of cheese that they are not used to,” she beamed, adding that her customers like her brand of cheese because they are different from those found in supermarkets.
Annisa said occasionally, she brings her cheese out to bazaars. She has also set up a cheese tasting room at home, where one can visit by appointment to taste and buy the cheese.
Due to the demand, Annisa has also started teaching cheese making classes locally. There’s even an internship available!
“Many people requested cheese making class and I love to teach so that was a perfect situation. On top of learning how to make, the class also provide people opportunity to taste our cheese and good food.”
When asked about her future plans, Annisa said she wants to do her best in perfecting her production routine to produce a little more, with even better standards.
Annisa’s cheese is priced between RM13 to RM17 per 100g.
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for more information or to get your hands on some real deal cheese.