Friday, March 6, 2015

our basic cheese

this is a cheese i make almost every week. it is based on a recipe i learned on a small goat farm in northern israel and have made and adapted it ever since.

what milk to use? 
i used to do this with raw goats milk on the farm but here it is rather hard to get goats milk so i am using raw cows milk from an organic farm in a neighbouring village. i am sure you can do this with any raw milk you can get your hands on. it might even be worth a try with organic milk from the store.
the recipe
i am usually using 8-10l of milk to make three or four of theese wheels. it may sound awfully complicated but after making it several times you will find that it is rather simple =)

you will need:
  • raw milk
  • a thermostat
  • rennet
  • a mesophilic cheese culture like flora danica
  • some cheese shapes or just a muslin cloth
  • and some regular kitchen items like a knife, pot and a sink

how to make the cheese:

gently heat the milk in a pot to 65°C.

while you are doing that, place a few tablespoons of warm milk (no more then 40°C!) in a small bowl and add your culture (i use about 1/4 teaspoon of flora danica on 10l of milk).

then, in a seperate bowl, add some drops of rennet to a few table spoons of warmish water (this will depend n what kind of rennet you have. mine is about 5 drops per liter of milk).

after reaching 65°C place the pot in a sink with cold water (you can add ice cubes to the water if you want it to cool faster) and cool it down to between 38-42°C.

now add the cultured milk to the pot and stirr, then the dilluted rennet and make sure to stirr a few times to incorporate everything

now comes the resting phase:

wrap the pot with the milk in some blankets and leave it for about an hour or so.

after an hour of rest try cutting the formed curd with a knife, if you can see a cut line and can pull the cut apart it is ready, if not leave it a bit longer.

if it is ready cut it into cubes by sliding your knife through the curd vertically and horizontally. now slice the curd at an angle in three directions and let it sit in the blanket for another 10-20min.

when the cubes sunk to the bottom of the pot, gently stirr with your hand andcut them into walnut sized cubes.

let it sit again and stirr again as you did before. you might have to repeat this for about 2-4 times until the curds have firmed up.

now for the shaping:
before shaping remove some of the whey so you can see the curds that have settled at the botom of the pot and add some salt (about 50g/l). stirr it in with your hands and let it sit for about 5-10min.

at this stage you can add herbs, spices or whatever you feel like. i like to add oregano, cumin or chilly flakes.

the final step is to scoop the curds into shapes (or your muslin cloth) and let them drip over a bowl for about two days. if you use shapes make sure to turn the cheeses a few times over the next frew days.

after about two days i take them out of the shapes and store them in containers in the fridge.

they will loose quiet a lot of whey, even when you store them in the fridge, so make sure to place a small plate or something underneath them so they dont sit in their own whey. it gives them a sour taste to sit in whey that i personally dont like.

depending on the milk, rennet, culture, temperature and many other factors the cheese you make will be slightly different. so dont be shy to experiment until you think you got it right. i am currently playing with the texture of this cheese by increasing the time i let the curds sit, so feel free to improve on the recipe yourself.

Monday, January 19, 2015

happy 2015

one of our chickens caught a mouse!
we had a christmas market
chickens up close
first snow
elephant cookies

happy new year!
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