Monday, April 25, 2011

Cheese -Cheddaring, firmer Feta and tasting time

I had a bumper cheese making 2 days this weekend. Friday was a new batch of Feta cheese made using yet another recipe as I am still looking to get a firmer texture. This recipe is out of the Idiot’s Guide and the new steps were drying overnight then heavy brining for 6 hours before finally putting in the pickling (a much reduced salt) brine in the jar. It felt a lot firmer block this time so I hope it stays that way.
On Saturday I decided to have a go at proper Cheddar – not the shortcut farmhouse variety I made last year. This one involves Cheddaring or laying the slabs of curd on top of each other and flipping every 15 minutes for 2 hours. I did all of that ok but got distracted in the final step which is  after milling (breaking into small pieces) and salting, maintaining at 100 degrees F (why is it lots of cheese recipes are American so I constantly have to convert gallons, degrees F, ounces etc!). My curd had cooled in the milling process so I heated up the water bath a little bit too much and started to melt the bottom layer of curds! It was starting to look a bit like mozzarella. Oh well . I still put in through the pressing regime and it is looking ok this morning when it came out of the final pressing. It now has to air dry for a few days then I will wax it and age it for several months. You never know, I may have invented a new cheese!

We also cut open the Monterey Jack cheese this weekend. The mountain pepper leaves are a bit too tough to eat but the overall taste was pretty good. It was even better melted.

Still more harvesting from the garden

I seem to have missed a blog entry last weekend so I guess I had better make up for it this time with 2.  It wasn’t that I didn’t do anything last weekend but couldn’t really write about doing more of the same old, same old bottling tomatoes, juicing apples, making mozzarella etc. I also picked some of the dried on the vine scarlet runner beans which I think will be pretty good added to soup in the months to come. We are still get a few artichokes as well.

Yesterday while I was juicing all the pears which I stole off the crows several weeks ago, now all soft and some starting to go bad, I put on a small batch of Cape Gooseberry Jam. I found a self sown  cape gooseberry plant in the garden a few months ago and now there are some fruit. It takes me back to the backyard of the house where I grew up in Brisbane where there was one growing. I didn’t like them much then and I still don’t but I hate to see things go to waste. I am sure someone will eat it! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gremlins in the Gremmental

Last weekend I had a go at making Emmental cheese. The recipe suggested that doubling the batch would make a bigger wheel and allow bigger eyes to develop. So I got my biggest stainless steel pot and filled it with about 14 litres of raw milk – which was about the limit of my ability to lift a liquid load which had potential to slosh about. The recipe seemed pretty straight forward add culture, add the Swiss cheese culture, ripen, then add rennet. Then it was time to slowly heat the curd, stir every 5 minutes until it got to a particular temperature . I tried doing it in the kitchen sink but then the hot water ran out and I transferred it onto the stove, still stirring away. Actually I was able to read a book at the same time so it wasn’t time completely wasted. Then into the cheese press for a regimented number of minutes at a specific weight etc. Halfway through the pressing I realised that the recipe page had flipped over to the Gruyere recipe, which although had the same ingredients and initial stages had quite a different pressing regime. So I suddenly had to rush to the press and change the weight. Well I don’t know if it was the stuffed up pressing or the doubling of the recipe without changing the amount of pressing time or weight but I think something has gone wrong. There are great cracks in the cheese and it hasn’t improved with a week in the cheese cave. It is now time to sit it in a warm room for 2 or 3 weeks to let the proprionic shermanii bacteria do their thing and make the eyes….or completely explode it apart. Time will tell. Stay tuned.
But on the other hand, my blue cheese is starting to go blue as per the recipe said it would.. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blue Cheese and Red Tomatoes

Last weekend I decided to have a go at making some blue cheese using a slice of bought blue as the innoculant for penicillium roqueforti. It wasn’t too complicated – blend up the cheese with some water until it was a liquid and add to the milk with the starter.

After renneting and cutting the curd into 1cm cubes, it just needed stirring every five minutes for an hour which allowed me time to be doing something else in the kitchen (making tomato paste ready to bottle later). I then had to drain the curds in a colander , mix in a bit of salt and then drain again in a mould flipping every 15 minutes for the first 2 hours and then every hour for the next 2 then overnight.  ! It sat in the cave on  a board, rubbed with salt and turned daily for the next 3 days and then was pierced with a sterilised knitting needle to create some holes in it so that the mould has pathways through which it can spread.. Now it just has to sit in a mini cave (plastic box) within the cave to try to increase the humidity for several weeks to let the mould develop fully. I think it is about 6 months until it is ready to eat.

Meanwhile I was boiling down lots of tomatoes to make some tomato paste to use as pizza toppings in the year to come.  The tomatoes are ripening thick and fast now so I have lots to choose from. The Roma tomatoes that I grow for bottling are comparatively dry to other varieties like Rouge de marmande. This makes them great to bottle or dry as there is less watery flesh to boil down.  I was very pleased to end up with 12 bottles of paste by the end of the day.  On Saturday I put some on to dry as well.  I realised when I finished that last year I just halved rather than quartered them which made for a better resulting shape. The quarters end up shrivelling too much. Anyway there are plenty more out in the garden to do some next weekend.