Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Curd is the word

Now that we're a little settled again (home from the beach week with the grandparents and cousins, Jeffrey and the oldest boys gone to the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree, Kayla settled in at work for the summer at the archeology camp, and the rest of us having not much at all to do in the heat), I'm back to experiments in cheese making.  Yes, I do have a knit sweater on the needles, but the stitch pattern involves a lot of concentration even though overall the structure of the sweater is simple, so I'm having a little trouble picking it up and putting it down.

Well the first excitement was seeing a notice that one of the vendors, Orchard Breeze Farm, at our local farmers' market is now carrying fresh milk.  I contacted them and they double checked and sure enough, the pasteurization temperature is a cheese-friendly 161F.  They are also happy to take orders at the end of the week (by Friday morning) for specific amounts of any kind of milk (cow or goat, homogenized or not in the case of cow milk), and will hold it for pick up at Kentlands or Olney farmers' markets.  And it's only $3/half gallon, which is a pretty good price (though FYI, I found that if people want to spend the money on gas, Perendell dairy sells their milk unbottled, ie you bring your own glass bottles, for $3/gallon on the farm, but I'm not driving to PA for my milk, I'd pay more on gas than the difference in the price).

I didn't reserve any since I was just communicating with them on Friday afternoon at this point, so by the time I met up with them at 9 AM on Sunday, they had almost sold out on Saturday at Kentlands.  I was able to buy 1 gallon of whole homogenized milk and a half-gallon of 2%.  Then I went to buy goat milk at MOMs, but they were out of the one I usually buy and I had to buy the more expensive and higher-temperature-ultra-pasteurized variety they sold; I figured I'd give it a whorl just for an experiment.

So yesterday was the feta cheese warm up.  One half gallon of goat milk, possibly too high-temp processed, and one half gallon 2% cows milk.  Remember, I've been using one full gallon of lower-temp processed all-goat milk, and I've been getting VERY firm, good tasting feta, all white without the beta carotene in cows' milk.

But it worked!  I got feta, it's just much more crumbly feta than usual, and probably a slightly lower yield (I don't bother weighing my final feta, and once it's in brine it would be a little silly anyhow since the brine water will outweigh the cheese).  It looks more like the feta I do usually get on my salads at the kosher pizza places around here than the carefully cubed cheese I've been producing.  But it does taste good.
Feta in calcium chloride brine; made with half high-temp-pasteurized goats' milk and half  2% cows' milk because that's what I could buy this week and I felt the urge to have feta.

So today will be my first attempt at....cloth-banded cheddar!

No comments: