March 11, 2024

Book Review & Giveaway: Natural Small Batch Cheesemaking

Natural Small Batch Cheesemaking by Kate Downham

I am so pleased to tell you about this book! It's the small batch homesteader's dream. Not only does it tell you everything you ever wanted to know about cheesemaking (and then some), it's geared toward the homesteader who doesn't have large quantities of milk to work with. So many cheesemaking books call for two to five gallons of milk per batch of cheese. These same books use purchased commercial cultures. With Kate's book, I can make a large variety of cheeses with smaller amounts of milk and with natural, homemade cheese cultures. 

In her introduction, Kate calls her philosophy "a peasant approach to cheesemaking." This is homestead cheesemaking in its most natural form, focusing on seasonal conditions, smallhold farms and homesteads, and the busy homesteading lifestyle. This is the essence of everyday food producing; hearty wholesome foods produced and crafted on the land. I can't think of a better connection with nature than this.

One of the things I love about this book is that Kate manages to gear it toward both beginning and experienced cheesemakers. The first several chapters cover the concepts and fundamentals of making cheese. Don't miss these! Even if you've been making cheese for years and years, these chapters are loaded with many, many tidbits plus practical wisdom. I've been making cheese for the past decade, but I learned more useful information from Kate's book than I have anywhere else. 

The largest section of the book contains the cheese recipes. Some of these are regulars on our table, chèvre, for example. What I didn't realize, is that there are so many kinds of chèvre: cream cheese style, crottin, air-dried, aged with herbs or spices, ladled curd, leaf wrapped, or preserved in oil. Then it's on to a wonderful variety of other cheesemaking techniques: brined, washed curd, Alpine, bloomy white rind, blue, cheddar, even a Parmesan-style grating cheese. Also a couple of cheeses made from whey and other dairy products to make such as kefir, yoghurt, cultured butter, ghee, custard, and ice cream. 

The recipes are very well written; easy to understand and easy to follow. Once you're comfortable with the recipe, there are "quick-glance method for experienced cheesemakers" in the chapter margins. Very handy! The appendices include an extensive troubleshooting section and how to adapt ingredients to larger quantities of milk. 

I can honestly say this book is a "must have" for every homesteader who loves and wants to make cheese. AND! Between now and Friday, everyone can get a chance to win one of four copies being given away on There are a few simple rules, which you can read about here:

Natural Small Batch Cheesemaking Giveaway at

Can't wait? You can order a copy from either
© March 2024 by Leigh at


Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Thanks for the review Leigh! I was part of the Kickstarter for this and am looking forward to receiving my copy.

Leigh said...

TB, you've got something to look forward to! I just recently got mine and am excited with all the new ideas to try.

Nancy In Boise said...

Would love to know how to do this!

Leigh said...

Nancy, keep it in mind. It's absolutely the best book on small scale home cheese making. If I could only have one cheese making book, this would be it.

Fundy Blue said...

It sounds like a great resource, Leigh. Maybe I'll come back for another life and have time for cheesemaking ~ lol! I love reading your blog because I can enjoy homesteading through your eyes. I admire people who can do this, but I'm self-aware enough to know that it wouldn't work for me. I'm a rolling stone. I shall imagine you making and eating all these great cheeses!

Leigh said...

Louise, the great thing about blogging is that we can learn and appreciate so many things through other people's blogs. You get to enjoy homesteading through mine, and I get to enjoy travel through yours!

Jillee said...

Hello Leigh: I’m interested in ordering Kate’s book, and first went to Permies to order it but it looks like it’s not available through them anymore. Even the Permie link to pre-order the hardcover version resulted in an error message. So, I am resigning myself to order it on Amazon but not sure if I should get the hardcover or softcover. Can you offer any input as to which version is easier to work with, such as which version stays open better to the page you’re on, when you have it laying on a counter top? Thank you.

Leigh said...

Jillee, I didn't realize that about ordering from Permies. Thanks for the heads up.

I have a soft cover copy, but you make a good point about using it. It measures 8" by 8" and is about a quarter inch thick. In testing it out by lying it on the counter, I found it pretty much stays open if I press the pages down. Of course, it's still new, but I'm guessing it will lie open better with use. I really don't know about the hardback, though. But any book that gets a lot of use I find lasts longer in hardback.