Almond Cheese from the Inntalkochbuch

Another standard recipe with many parallels.

<<42>> Ein chäs von mandel

A cheese of almond(s)

Boil almond milk in a small pan with spiced wine until it curdles – the wine must be sweet – and pour it onto a cloth, add a strablein (a container? or a stäublein i.e. spices?) and leave it to drain until it is dry. Place it in a cheese char (probably a vat).

Making cheese or butter from almond milk was a common piece of sleight of hand the cooks of the elite were expected to master. these dishes were permitted in Lent, allowing those who could afford it to keep a rich and varied table. Martin Luther famously stated that this was not fasting at all.

This recipe is fairly straightforward, but it lacks many of the details that would most interest us. How finely was the almond milk strained, for example, and was it curdled more by the action of heat or the acidity of the wine? Comparisons will be needed before we can confidently reconstruict this. What is interesting is that the cheese is shaped in a char, probably a coopered cheese vessel that is also mentioned in recipe one:

<<1>> Gut chaes ze machen

To make good cheese

When you put the curd cheese into the cheese container (char or kar probably means a vat) with the slotted spoon (gauffen), salt it after every gauffen and at the end salt it all around. The cheese will lie for a year and not go bad.

The almond cheese is not salted and not meant to be kept, but it is clearly meant to resemble an aged cheese, not a fresh one like it does in most surviving recipes.

The Inntalkochbuch is from a monastic library in Bavaria’s Inntal region (the Inn is a tributary of the Danube), dating to the late 15th/early 16th century. It is written in Upper German and strongly reflects local culinary traditions, though some of its recipes are commonplaces found elsewhere.

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