Wednesday, 25 February 2009

First Sign of Winter's End

The first flower of the year. Four snowdrops by the pond. Not out yet, but struggling through.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Whey to Go

This is the first attempt at making cheddar, which I miss. It's expensive to buy here in Germany and I haven't found any native equivalents. I started at about 6.30 on Saturday evening, which was far too late, because you actually need a lot longer for this kind of cheese. I knew this, but circumstances prevailed against me. I had a lot of other things to do as well, so things got a bit drawn out.
So this is 5l of raw cows' milk heating up slowly in a sterile saucepan to 32°c.

I then added a teaspoon of animal rennet (bought online because although I was told I could buy it from an Apotheke, no-one wherever I inquired even knew what rennet was. Incredible how ignorant we all are these days) in a small cup of cold water. Stirred the milk. It was nearly midnight by this time.

I sat the saucepan on the night storage heater for 30 minutes, after which time the milk had coagulated and turned to a thick junket, providing a clean break when I stuck a finger in to test it. Getting really excited now, I then cut the curds with a palette knife -to 1cm wide, and stirred with a whisk to separate curds and whey. I'm not quite sure what the point is of cutting the curds in the first place, if one has to separate them even more with a whisk afterwards. Perhaps it's supposed to make it easier to cut them really finely if one does it with a knife first. If anyone knows, please tell me..

You can see the cut curds here. It works!! All the info and videos

on the net couldn't quite take away my anxiety that I maybe hadn't done everything correctly.

Then I heated the curds and whey up to 38°c and stirred slowly.
It is fascinating how different the
curds are this time, compared with how they look when I coagulate the milk with lemon juice or vinegar. They are so creamy, as opposed to clumpy. Then I poured off the curds slowly into a cloth over a bowl, keeping some of the whey for cooking. Making a cheese this big, there's so much whey left over, that there's no way (pun unintended) we could use it all, so I am ashamed to say that I pour a lot of it down the sink. I know this is awful, but I don't know what to do with the rest. While the children are not at home, no-one eats cereal in the mornings... We haven't a dog or cat or livestock. Ideas welcome.
I then added three teaspoons of salt to the curds and mixed it in thoroughly.

Here I placed a bowl under this strange looking metal stand - I can't remember what it's for, originally, but it has some very useful holes in the top, which the whey can drip through while the cheese is being pressed. The curds are in a cloth, in the old biscuit tin, with my husband's weights on the top. They stayed like this in a cold bedroom (thanks Ben) overnight. Went to bed and dreampt of cheese.
(The cake in the background is a carrot cake for Sunday.)

This was the next morning after the first pressing. I then turned the cheese over and pressed it again in the same way for another 24 hours. When I took it out this morning it was much firmer and uniformly smooth all the way round. I turned it once again to press for a further day. Tomorrow morning I'll take it out to put it in the fridge to mature. I don't know if I have to cover it with cheese wax - I don't have any and I don't have the necessary equipment to melt enough with which to cover the cheese. So I'll see what happens. All very exciting.
This is the results of the third effort at making cheese using lemon juice /vinegar as a coagulating agent. You need more of either for a cheese of this size, which was made from 4,5l of raw cows' milk. I formed the curds in a cloth in a bottomless biscuit tin, which works perfectly. My husband's 5kg weights fit neatly over the cloth and tin bottom which cover the cheese and press the whey out through the cloth, (and a metal stand with holes in it - which has been sitting in the cellar for years, and whose proper purpose I can't for the life of me remember) - into the bowl underneath.
The last cheese I made using this method, (see last cheese entry) I soaked in a salt bath over night. It was tasty, (creamy yellow rind on the outside and a firm white soft cheese on the inside) but perhaps a little too salty. So this time I only salted the curds slightly and salted the outside. I made this three weeks ago and since then it's been sitting in the fridge, gradually giving off moisture and developing a firmer yellower crust. Can't wait to try it.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Next Cheese-making Adventure

This time I used 3.5 litres of fresh milk straight from the farm. Heated it up slowly and at just before simmering point, added lime juice (didn't have any lemon left) and finally a bit of white wine vinegar. The moment everything suddenly curdles never ceases to astonish and delight me. Huge great lumps of white curds. Poured everything into a linen tea-towel and hung it up on a hook on the ceiling to drip all night into a bowl. This morning I pressed the resulting lump (a good 750g, at least) in the cheese pot, (under my husband's lifting weights) for a few hours. A short while ago I took it out again and put it into a salt water bath. It's sitting in the fridge. Not sure how long I'll keep it in there, but perhaps for a few days, after which I'll take it out and have it sit in the fridge to mature a bit. I'm not sure what kind of cheese it'll be; will have to look it up.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Am starting to think about this year's seed planting; what, when and how much to sow ... Swiss Chard, (Ger. Mangold, 'Lucullus') Lamb's Lettuce ('Feldsalat, 'Rapunzel') and Curly Kale (Gr√ľnkohl).
It's a start. Have brought in some 'Mel's Mix' in a plastic tub to start some seeds off early for transplanting out later. Have to warm up the soil first. I'll wait until tomorrow before sowing.