Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Another Day

The curds have been put into the mold.  This time around the whole mix was just a lot more creamy rather than "curdy."  At first the cheese was squeezing out from the punctures.  Eventually clear"ish" whey was coming out, though much more slowly.  Now we wait another 18-24 hours!

Curds and Whey

The curd is very moist and the whey flows right out.
It hung in the butter muslin for 18-24 hours
In the morning I had to raise it up because the level of the whey was touching the pouch.  As I was filling the pouch, I thought how much it was like the goat skin pouch that our ancestors used when they discovered how to make cheese.

Round Two

I started round two.  This time I used whole pasteurized cow milk.  I did not document the heating process because it is the same as the goat's milk.  
I put this batch in a glass bowl hoping it would be easier to see.  This is the "cake" of curds floating in the whey.
The only alteration is that the website stated that with highly heated milk (i.e. pasteurization) curds may be softer and less formed.  This requires butter muslin to strain some of the whey out before putting the cheese in the molds.  This was entirely accurate.
The Butter Muslin Pouch
It has to be sterilized before using.
I am having technical difficulties so I will continue in another post.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Is This Normal?

So it has been a week and a day since I removed my cheese from the mold.  Well sort of.  I have removed it from the plastic mold, but there are other molds that have made their home on my cheese.
According to the directions, "The cheese can now be taken from the molds and dried off for another day.Note the fan in the photo below which is set on low to provide enough air movement to further dry off the surfaces. The surface can be left as is to allow natural molds to develop"  Then there is a lovely photo of a block of cheese with milky white mold on it, it looks very pleasant and rustic.
This is from the website.  Mine looks nothing like this. 
I am not sure if there are more than one type of mold that can grow or if I have done something horribly wrong.  My instructor Roy assured me that if they were bad microbes it would smell foul.  It is not foul smelling at all, just musty/moldy. 

The black mold is very soft and velvety.  I am not going to cut into it until lab day, but I am more than just a little bit afraid to test it.  Luckily I have a second batch that will be fresh.

Waiting and Salting

The cheese put off a lot of liquid whey.  That would have been a great thing to document.  Maybe I'll so that on the next round!

Apparently I was in a rush because I also did not take pictures of the salting, but I followed directions as stated on the website recipe.

 "The curd now needs to drain and consolidate in the forms for another 24 hours before turning and salting."
 It was not specified to cover the cheese, but it just made me feel better eliminating the possibility of small winged forms of protein having access to the cheese.
This picture is taken before I got to the point of salting.  The curds were moist and not cohesive. Can you see the small amount of whey at the base of the photo?  It had slowed down quite a bit at this point.

Houston We Have Lift Off!

Well, I am shocked that in my crazy household the cheese pot was left nearly untouched.  After leaving it for 24 hours I opened it up and wonder of wonders the curds had separated from the whey!

"The primary indication for proper curd development is the observation of clear whey beginning to rise. 

The first indication will be small droplets of whey forming on the surface, next you will see small puddles forming as the whey rises, and finally you will see a thin layer of whey over the entire curd mass. You may even note the curd pulling away from the vat edges or forming cracks. It is now ready to cut. Note the photos above.
If your curd does not seem to be set within this time frame, you should let it continue to sit quietly. This may take as much as 36-48 hours for some milks and during some seasons.
Smell & Taste the milk again and note the pronounced acid character. Using your senses here will aid in becoming a better cheese maker." http://www.cheesemaking.com/LacticChz.html

The website suggested to sample the curds and note the new acidity.  I did, with a bit of trepidation, but they were good.  Definitely not sweet anymore, slightly acidic, and very mild like cottage cheese.

"If using a very fresh farm milk or a milk that we know forms a good curd (pasteurized at normal time/temperature and below 172F) we can simply ladle the curds directly to the forms for draining."
The curd looks somewhat unremarkable.  Kind of like extra thick greek yogurt.
I used this fancy, custom made mold for my curds.
"The curd now needs to drain and consolidate in the forms for another 24 hours before turning and salting."
More to come!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Day One

"Begin by heating the milk to 86F (30C). You do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this in a pot on the stove make sure you heat the milk slowly and stir it well as it heats."

I initially started with the jar in a pot of water on the stove.  I also only have one mold so I cut the recipe in half.
I decided that trying to work with a narrow mouth jar would cause more problems so I switched to a 2 quart pan.
"Once the milk is at 86F the culture can be added. To prevent the powder from caking and sinking in clumps, sprinkle the powder over the surface of the milk and then allow about 2 minutes for the powder to re-hydrate before stirring it in." 
I forgot to take a picture of the culture but it looks kind of like salt but more creamy white and granular than white and granular.
"If using the Buttermilk culture you will need to add about 2 drops of rennet to a gallon of milk."
With one quart I had to use about a half of a drop.  There is a proper way to calculate this, but I just winged/wong it.
The rennet has an unusual smell.  Not pleasant, but not disgusting either.
I could tell the rennet was working.  This picture isn't very good but can you see the little edges that are separating?

" Smell & Taste the sweet milk at this point !"  I did and it pretty much tasted like milk.  Sweet like the instructions mentioned.
"The milk now needs to sit quiet for about 16-24 hours while the culture works and the acidity coagulates the curd. The thermal mass of this milk should keep it warm during this period. It is normal if the temperature drops to room temperature during this time but do keep it between 68-72F otherwise acid development and coagulation may slow down."
Now we wait!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Finally Settled

I have finally settled on what I am going to make.  I am starting it today now that I have been able to gather all the proper supplies.  I am going to make lactic cheese, (delectable name, huh?)  I am going to make one batch with fresh goat's milk and another with whole pastureized cow milk.  One batch will be softer and will be drained with butter muslin and the other more firm an using a cheese mold.

Before you Begin:

You will need:
1 gallon of milk (Please note the choices above
1 packet of either our Chevre or Buttermilk culture 
Liquid Rennet if using the Buttermilk culture 
A good thermometer
A knife to cut the curds, and a spoon or ladle to stir the curds with.
A colander and butter muslin to drain the curds
Several molds - 6 per gallon. The Chevre or Crottin molds work well for this
Everything needs to be clean and sanitized.
Further instructions will be added as I progress.  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Garlic Carrot Sticks

Don't hold me to it, but I think I have my recipe.  It is for lacto-fermented garlic carrot sticks.  I am following the instructions from this blog.   I think if I use carrots like we had in our garden last year, they will have to be called Franken-carrots
They're alive!
  • 1 – 1 1/2 pounds of fresh carrots, trimmed
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 cups of water, or more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons of sea salt (where to buy real American sea salt)
  • one hefty outer cabbage leaf
  1. Make brine by dissolving the sea salt in water. If your water is cool you may have to heat part of the water in order to dissolve the salt. Then stir in the cool water and let brine cool to room temperature before using.
  2. Place peeled garlic cloves in the bottom of a quart jar. Cut carrots into quarters lengthwise to the height of the narrowing of the narrow-mouthed jar. If using a wide-mouth jar, cut them so that they are about 1 – 1 1/2 inches below the bottom of the ring of the jar.
  3. Place carrot sticks vertically in jar on top of the garlic cloves. Pack them in so they are snug, but not over-packed so that the brine can still penetrate the carrots.
  4. Pour the 2 cups of brine over the carrot sticks so that they are completely covered by as much brine as possible, leaving a 1″ or so headspace between the brine and the lip of the jar. Add more water, if needed.
  5. Place the hefty outer cabbage leaf over the carrot sticks and tuck it in to the sides as tightly between the carrots and the jar as you can. Keeping your carrots submerged with this cabbage leaf is one of the most critical part of the process.
  6. Place the lid on the jar and close tightly. If using an airlock system place that on the lid according to the directions on the package.
  7. Place at a cool room temperature, 65-80 being ideal, and allow to culture for 7-10 days or longer, as desired. You can also leave it at room temperature for a few days and then move to a cooler temperature (not refrigeration) of 45-60 degrees to complete the fermentation process over the course of several weeks for better flavor and a more thorough fermentation process.
  8. During the earliest stages of fermentation you will have to “burp” your jar if not using an airlock. For best results do this only very slightly – just barely unscrew the lid until you hear a small amount of the gas escaping and then screw it back on quickly. You want to let just enough of the carbon dioxide out so that the jar won’t explode, but leave enough in so that you achieve as much of an anaerobic environment as possible.
  9. Eventually the formation of carbon dioxide will slow down and you won’t have to burp the jar any longer.
  10. You can eat the carrot sticks right away at this point or move them to cold storage like a cellar, a cool basement, a hole in the ground, or, if you must, a refrigerator.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Back to the Drawing Board

After doing some research, I have learned that kombucha is made with green or black tea, which I don't drink.  Then I read about its fizzly taste, and sure enough there is a small amount of alcohol in the finished product.  Since I don't drink at all, I probably would overdose on it.  So tomorrow I'll do the research first then pick another project.


This summer's ventures include taking Microbiology.  It is a requirement for the RN year of nursing school, and while I could take in the fall along with my other courses, I think it is wise to lighten the load a bit.  This blog is one of the assignments for the course.  

Now, in spite of the title, I LOVE biology, but in my one day of reading for the class I have definitely learned that if microbes can do one thing, it is create a stink.  Now I just have to decide which fermented project to choose. 

I could go the easy route and do yogurt.  I have made my own yogurt for years, but I haven't made it once since I started nursing school last August, so we could stand to have some fresh yogurt, but where is the adventure in that!

I have Z-E-R-O interest in sauerkraut, though my distaste for it comes from trying in 7th or eight grade, so I'll give it a +2 on the interest scale.

I unsuccessfully tried to nurture kefir in Spain, so I could give that a second shot...so +6 on the scale.

Every healthy person I know raves about kimchi so I'll give that one a +6 as well.  

I think my number one interest for fermentation, a +8.75 on the interest scale, is kombucha. First of all the name is just cool.  Second, when I told someone about the project she said she had a "mother" for me if I was interested.  I mean how cool is that.  I am rather fond of mothers after all.  

But, if I a being completely honest, I want to try kombucha because of its appearance at minute 2:45 in Kid History episode 6.

I am a little scared to taste it, but if I can help an 86 year old use the commode, I can try kombucha...right?