About three years ago I read a post about a beautiful flower cheese on author, illustrator, gardener, and all-around inspirational woman, Sharon Lovejoy’s blog. I filed that post away in the recesses of my mind with a plan to make a flower cheese of my own one day.
At the time I was a novice wanna-be gardener but the following spring I planted nasturtium and borage flowers which were, at the time, unfamiliar to me. In the years since. I’ve had those plants in my garden every year, have enjoyed the edible flowers in spring salads, and appreciated the bees they attracted to the garden.
I began making my own yogurt when we retired, and this summer I made a small batch of cheese from the yogurt. We enjoyed it for lunch one day with crackers and some of my Sungold tomato jam. It was delicious!
With this yogurt cheese making ability under my belt, and with an abundance of edible flowers in my garden, when I learned there would be a gathering at the community garden tomorrow it seemed like a perfect time to make and serve the beautiful flower cheese.
On our way home from the farmer’s market we stopped at my garden plot where I picked a selection of borage and nasturtium blossoms. I washed them, separated the petals, and set them on paper towel to dry.
I had just made a fresh batch of yogurt (I do this two or three times every week) and so had plenty on hand to make into cheese. I took four jars, dumped them into the middle of a large piece of cheesecloth. Then, I gently stirred in most of the flower petals, snipping the larger nasturtium petals into smaller bits. I saved some of the petals to decorate the finished cheese with. These, I left on the damp paper towel and wrapped in a plastic bag which I put in the refrigerator.
Next, I rigged up a way to suspend the cheesecloth bundle over a bowl until the next day. That’s really all there is to making yogurt cheese–suspending the yogurt so the whey can drip out leaving you with a creamy and delicious cheese. Depending on the consistency of the yogurt you start with this can take anywhere from a day to a couple of days.
The whey (about two cups) had all drained out of my little bag of cheese by morning but I left it hanging in the refrigerator until this afternoon when I was ready to assemble my dish. Then, I poured the whey into a mason jar and put it back in the refrigerator. I’ll use it for some other purpose within a few weeks.
Here’s what the actual yogurt cheese, with flowers mixed in, looked like. I make my yogurt with local whole milk; the yogurt cheese has the consistency and flavour of a very rich cream cheese.
I want to serve the cheese with bread crisps so I prepared them by slicing a baguette into thin slices, tossing with olive oil, seasoning with sea salt, and baking at 350 degrees for nine minutes.
Finally I assembled my dish by placing the bowl of flower cheese in the centre of a larger bow, surrounding it with the bread crisps, and garnishing with more fresh flower petals on top. I had intended to put some nasturtium blossoms around the outside of the dish as well but I didn’t pick enough yesterday to do that. Oh well…I think it looks pretty as it is anyway, don’t you?
You can also flavour this cheese with an assortment of herbs and spices instead of flowers too. I’ll probably experiment with that over the winter.
Now, we’re off to enjoy the sunshine and warm temperatures with our fellow gardeners. Happy Sunday!