Instructables
Picture of Buttons: an experiment with cheese
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Anecdoteally sailors used to carve things like buttons from cheese, as referred to here for one.

The British Navy did indeed procure cheese, which was rather hard (but durable) and presumably became harder with age.

Knowing that cheese can go rather hard if dried out, I decided to test the cheese-button anecdote.

I used a selection-bag of cheeses:

Austrian Smoked Processed Cheese
cheese, water, butter, milk protein, emulsifying salt (polyphosphate), potato starch, salt, liquid smoke

Edam
milk, salt, starter culture, colour (carotene), preservative (sodium nitrate, calcium chloride), animal rennet

Boursin
milk and cream, garlic and herbs (1.6%), salt, pepper

Mini Babybel Original
milk, salt, milk ferments, vegetarian rennet

Mini Babybel Cheddar Variety
cheddar cheese (94%), water, preservative (nisin)

Red Leicester
milk, cheese culture, salt, rennet, colour (annatto)

 
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Step 1: Preparation

Picture of Preparation
Considering the different formats, I decided to cut slices ~1/4 inch thick, and 3/4 inch wide.
The width of the strip was the only consistent accurate measurement, and would serve as a shrinkage point of reference.
The Boursin being mushy couldn't be cut, so it was spread onto a strip of plastic pizza-base.

Step 2: Drying

Picture of Drying
I gave these a few hours outside in the breeze, under a sieve. However I did return to find the sieve displaced and the Edam gone, so I had to cut that one again.
Then I gave them a gentle warming with the fan-heater that warms my toes at night. This caused the cheese to "sweat" grease, which was blotted with kitchen-towel (paper).

The cycle was repeated: sun & breeze during the day, warm air in the evening, over 7 days.

Austrian Smoked Processed Cheese
Not really cheese, but it dried quite well shrinking to 1/2" 67%

Edam
Quite a good cheese for drying shrinking to 9/16" 75%

Boursin
Hard to tell, as something mushy there wasn't any apparent loss of width, it was the thickness that diminished. However since it started plastered on a strip of packaging it's not that suprising.

Mini Babybel Original
Formed a bit of a crust, not a nice finish, shrunk to 9/16" 75%

Mini Babybel Cheddar Variety
Like the original it formed a bit of a crust, but more so, shrunk to 19/32" 79%

Red Leicester
Dried the best (and quickest) finishing at 9/16" 75%

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dr_peru4 months ago

Thank you for this great Instructable! Not only is it pleasantly obnouxious and funny (i had to leave the room to stop laughing!), it is also potentially very useful and delicious in case of any real or imaginary apocalyptic events in the future.

swaldock2 years ago
As I understand it the cheese which was hardest and was considered so inedible as to be used for buttons was Suffolk Cheese which is fine fresh but degenerates into what is very close to casein - which is as I'm sure you know the very first form of plastic.
junits154 years ago
haha that should make for an interesting conversation piece at parties!
lemonie (author)  junits154 years ago
Yes... what sort of parties do you go to then? L
I'm only 15, at the parties I go to cheese buttons wouldn't be a good idea :) but maybe for a more "sophisticated" party.
frollard4 years ago
This is a ridiculously awesome ible 'mythbusting' a neat tale. Well done!
lemonie (author)  frollard4 years ago
I never thought of mythbusting, but I suppose in a way that's what it was. I might like to see the Mythbusters do this. L
godofal lemonie4 years ago
why, if you have done it already...
but i must admint, when reading the result, i did think about mythbusters :P
if the mythbusters did it, They'd fail, and find the c4 and blow the cheese up.
Hmm, could this withstand going through the wash, though? THAT's the major obstacle here. haha.
lemonie (author)  Damage, Inc.5 years ago
I'll try it and let you know. L
maybe some sort of laminating arrangement
lemonie (author)  Zaphod Beeblebrox4 years ago
Varnish.

L
Wasagi4 years ago
 :O
"So how exactley did you break your dremel." "Ummm... well i was grinding down cheese..." "You were what?" "...Grinding down cheese." jk
lemonie (author)  natethegreat885 years ago
I didn't use the Dremel-A-like on this, but I appreciate your sense of humour, thanks. L
Oh, i just realized that that isn't a Dremel, and your welcome.
ycc21065 years ago
Best ever! Now you need to make a biodegradable cloth to go with it, would give the fashion market a great boost! XDD
lemonie (author)  ycc21065 years ago
Cotton would count? Hemp? L
ycc2106 lemonie5 years ago
.. isn't there something quicker? I think hemp takes years to disappear. Well, there's no need to make it solid. Use it fresh?

*thinking* ...leafs, vegetables...

There are those candy panties, but that won't do for rainy days.... so how about seaweed?
nutty guy5 years ago
thats cool but I hope you ate that cheese!
lemonie (author)  nutty guy5 years ago
I ate the rest of it. L
good good
lemonie (author)  lemonie5 years ago
..with crackers.
Punkguyta5 years ago
This is actually pretty damn cool lemonie. Have you ever thought of joining the mythbusters? And another thought, do you think this could be done from meat? like beef jerky?
lemonie (author)  Punkguyta5 years ago
I suggest that you try it! L
Beef Jerky anyone?
Atomman5 years ago
What shall happen next time our cheese goes bad...
LOL, I really don't think I'd go through all the trouble of making my own buttons (especially since buttons are only around 3 bucks for 20 pairs) just to have seagulls attack me all day.....just...WHY?
lemonie (author)  keikothemeowmeow5 years ago
Read the introduction. L
thepelton5 years ago
I have made buttons from thin plywood using an Epilog laser. You can decorate them.
lemonie (author)  thepelton5 years ago
Do you think the laser would cut cheese? (nicely) L
Personally, I think the laser would melt it, and make a mess.
lemonie (author)  thepelton5 years ago
I think there's still quite a bit of fat content, it'd make a nasty-smell at the least! L
shermans5 years ago
Lol that's pretty neat, I thought you where just kidding when you commented on it, but this is a great use for cheese. You could even go as far as to press pattrens into the cheese and stuff I bet. You ever use poly clay?
lemonie (author)  shermans5 years ago
Not sure what poly clay is, Fimo? L
It's oven back clay http://www.sculpey.com/
lemonie (author)  shermans5 years ago
Ah thanks. L
Fimo is a variety of poly clay. I think that Sculpey is the US variety, and Fimo is the type from Europe.
Fodaro5 years ago
Have you tried using macro mode for taking close-ups with the camera? There's often a button marked with a flower icon which will allow the camera to focus on objects close to the lens.
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