Saturday, January 13, 2007


i'm making a batch of cheese. this is my second batch; my first batch has been aging for a month now. i'm following the recipe in _wild_fermentation_, which is simple, user-friendly, and straightforward.
i'm using a half-gallon of Organic Pastures raw whole milk, and culturing it with 1/2 cup of whole milk yogurt for two hours at around 100 degrees.
then i'll add a few drops of vegetable-based rennet (traditionally, rennet is an enzyme derived from the lining of an animal's stomach) which will cause the milk to form a layer of custard-like coagulate-curd (interestingly enough, the word "coagulate" comes from the Latin word "coagulum", which *means* rennet! purdy cool.) floating in a pot of whey. then i'll cut the curds into relatively uniform 1-inch pieces, and this sits at 100 degrees ~ for a shorter time if you want softer cheese, and a longer time if you want harder cheese. i'll let it sit for about an hour.
then to gently scoop out the curds into a collander lined with cheesecloth (or in my case, linen), and layer it with sea salt.
and that's all but the draining! tie it up, with a bowl underneath to catch the salty whey.

for the first batch i was kind of half-assedly flying by the seat of my pants. this involved beer (not in the milk, but in my bloodstream, and behind my eyeballs and cheeks), and the giddy anticipation of going to meet and listen to Sandor Ellix Katz, the author of the very book i was using as reference! (more on that later. .. )
i made that classic mistake of not reading the instructions beforehand, and instead, *as* i was doing the action (for the first time) that i was reading about. dis no good. .. all the same, i felt adventurous and excited.
i imagine it will be edible but not yummy.. we'll see.

so: five days later, i'm making another batch of cheese, with the same starting ingredients.
tonight with a mediterranean feast, we will eat the cheese from a few days ago.
i shaped it a little bit (as i did not with the first batch) by flattening the mostly-drained sac-o-curds between two cutting boards (with a cast iron skillet for weight). a little bit more liquid dribbled out, as i turned it and flipped it throughout the days.
just now i unwrapped it from its happy linen lining and took my first nibble of my homemade cheese. the piece that i nibbled reminded me of when cream cheese gets a little bit dry around the edges (not *too* dry: not crunchy), and it was salty. but it tasted wholesome and good. cheese.
we'll see what the fam think of it tonight, and we might be adding less salt in this next batch. . . also thinking of adding: herbs. :)

photos from that first day ~
it's curded! the spoon is resting on TOP!!
cutting the curd,
scooping out the curd,
the cheesecloth bag,
me and my first bag-o-cheese

No comments: