Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cheese and Other Things

I find it's been tough to get a post in these days. Usually winter is a time to attempt to catch up on all the things I've let slide over the summer and fall, but this year we added a milk cow to the mix, and her milk has kept me pretty busy.

I'm amazed at how good tasting homemade butter is. Even when David makes chocolate chip cookies, you can smell the butter in them as they bake. As Jim commented at lunch today -- the more you eat the butter, the more you want to eat it. And we are learning moderation in everything!

I started out making an easy cheese, which was just heating the raw milk and then adding vinegar to make what I guess is called Queso Blanco. This weekend I decided to try the 30 Minute Mozzarella recipe.

I don't have any photos of the process, but it's very simple and tastes very good. I like it best when eaten warm, but we've also grated it and had it on pizza. I think one gallon of raw milk (not including the cream we've skimmed off the top) makes about 12 to 15 ounces of Mozzarella cheese. On Sat. I actually made 5 recipes, so that took care of one day's milk!

I now have the ingredients to make things like cream cheese and sour cream, but it takes quite a bit of cream and we need to keep up a supply of butter, so I haven't tried those recipes yet.

Yesterday I used the actual buttermilk from making butter for the liquid portion of my whole wheat bread recipe, and that is very good as well. Little by little I am learning to use as much of the milk as I can. For the time being we are storing what I don't use of the whey in a barrel that will be frozen and used for our pigs when we get them in the spring.

I have also learned that recipes don't always tell the whole story.

I've been using Ricki Carroll's book, Home Cheese Making, and sometimes I really don't understand what she is trying to convey in her recipes. Finally after making about 4 recipes of the 30 Minute Mozzarella from the book I had an "aha!" moment, when I quit stirring and just watched what happened to the milk before it was heated to 100 degrees and time to take it off the stove to scoop out the curd. Then I understood what Ricki Carrol was trying to explain in the recipe.

To me, cheese making is not an exact science. When I started to make a batch of Mozzarella yesterday afternoon I was thinking of the Queso Blanco recipe and heated the milk too quickly and did some other things incorrectly -- and it turned out to be the best tasting of the bunch. I am constantly learning new things.

Last night I finished up a batch of Mysost. I've done quite a few batches of this type of cheese, but after I added the cream I sat down for a couple of minutes to check email messages and almost burned the ingredients in the pan. It must have been the cream that turned dark brown and formed chunks. I was upset with myself, since the stuff was cooking for a good part of the day on the back burner. I quickly strained the chunks out of the whey, cleaned up the pan, and placed it back on the burner. Thankfully the Mysost was salvaged, but it made me realize I haven't arrived yet and need to pay more attention to what I am doing.

For anyone that reads our sons' blogs this will be old information, but I'll tell you about our newest member of the Bartlett Farm.
Last week one of our younger goats kidded. It was another one of those very cold evenings, so we ended up bringing her into the house to warm up. We were up almost all night with her, taking turns holding her up to the blower on the wood stove to get her body temperature up.
Instead of using the syringe all the time, Jonathan and Jim got her to drink the freshly milked colostrum from a bowl.
She is very cute, and at birth wasn't much bigger than our almost full grown cat, Henry. He thought she was great fun. The next day she was brought back to her mama, and has been with her ever since. It took a while for the kid to figure out where to get the milk, and for the mama to stand still for her to suck. But things are going well now.

This time of year the sun sets over our lake. I am definitely enjoying the longer days, and nice sunsets.


Peggy said...

You are always so busy but so content. I love stopping by to see whats new in your neck of the woods. Love the kid!!

Kelle said...

The first cheese you mentioned, we call Farmer's cheese and I agree it is good.... If you have The Encyclopedia of Country Living in the dairy section she has a recipe called Sirniky(sp?), it's like a fried cheese patty, or mozzerella patty, great for a quick snack and easy to make too*wink*

I know you are busy and probably don't want to work on any more recipes, but I found out by accident, that if you slowly reheat the whey, you can get yet another form of cheese, much like Ricotta and I add galic(minced),a little parmesan cheese and basil( or pesto works too) for a cheese spread that is to dy for on bagels or english muffins, Ummmm. Ummmm.We saved whey( froze) for this purpose as well as for lacto fermintation of our veggies.

I'll email you later this week, I got some herbs for my issues and will let you know how they work, it will probably take a month to know for sure. TTYL

Marci said...

Sounds like you are really having fun with all that milk. It is a lot to keep up with, but what a blessing!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn

I cant help wondering what the effect is on all of your family's health when consuming so much butter and cheese etc.

Sure makes me want to eat there.

Great blog. Thanks

Gp B

Diana said...

I still haven't gotten the hang of mozzarella yet, but I've been making hard cheeses - successfully and not - since Dec. now.

I tried mystost today with the whey from a colby and I don't know what happened - not only did it only take two hours to simmer down (and no I wasn't boiling it like crazy), but it only yielded 9 tablespoons! Do you really get a pound and a half from yours like the book says?

Lynn Bartlett said...

To be honest, I am struggling with making a decent mozzarella as well. I think my mozzarella was better when I used a rennet that wasn't triple strength. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong! You are ahead of me -- I have yet to tackle hard cheese.

As far as mysost: the most I have gotten out of the whey from 2 gallons of milk starting out was about 30 ounces of cheese. I was making mysost out of whey I got after making the easy "vinegar cheese." One time I tried making mysost with whey left over from (I think it was) feta cheese, and it didn't turn out at all. It was too bitter for us to want to eat. It seems to turn out very well when I don't use rennet in the cheese I was making. I don't know if that is the culprit or not.

I have also yet to figure out why I have such a variance in how much mysost it makes. I do add 2 cups of cream toward the end of the process -- did you do that?

Another factor I was thinking about was each time I make it I have started with a different amount of cream in the milk. We don't have a cream separator yet and skim it by hand. That means we don't always get it all, and each time we may leave a differing amount to start the cheese making process.

I made mysost again today, and it ended up weighing 21 ounces.

Wish I could be of more help to you. I guess we're all learning, and it's not as cut and dried of a process as I thought it would be. Please let me know if you figure it out, and I will do the same!