Saturday, October 17, 2009

Making Gouda

I have made five goudas, and have yet to taste one of them. On gouda four I took pictures, and these are the steps as best I can remember them. If you want to do it right, I highly recommend following the steps (like I do) in Ricki Carroll’s excellent book Home Cheese Making, and purchasing her ingredients at New England Cheesemaking Supply.

First things first. Cheese is made from milk. So you need 2 gallons, more or less. That’s 32 cups, but who’s counting. I used goat’s milk. It’s local and the price is right. Free actually, because a friend has goats and is willing to give us the extra. We share our cheese.

I am reasonably sure that the milk should be heated slowly, but I am a busy man. So I turn our electric stove right up to med-high. That’ll bring cold milk up to 90 degrees F in about 10 minutes. You’ll want an accurate thermometer. Cheesemaking is all about temperature.

Then add a mesophyllic starter. Good bacteria. Stir it in good(ah) and then let it set for 10 minutes.

Add rennet. I use liquid rennet. Read the label carefully. This recipe calls for ½ tsp, but the directions on the bottle say double-strength. And they mean it. So use only ¼ tsp of the double strength stuff, dissolved in ¼ cup non-chlorinated water. Chlorine kills bacteria, which would be a bit counter-productive, now, wouldn’t it? Stir gently, up and down, for 1 minute. Then rest for 1 hour.

After you and the milk have had a nice rest, the curd should give a “clean cut.” In other words, it is not entirely liquid anymore. You cut it and it stays cut, which does not happen with milk. Cut the curd into ½ inch cubes. Let rest for 10 minutes. Start some regular water heating.

Pour off as much whey as you can without pouring curds down the sink. (Whey is the yellowish water that is not curd.) Whey is milk sugar (lactose) and minerals. Curd is fat and protein. Mmmm. Save the whey for making ricotta, or making Kool-Aid (just add flavoring), or making bread, or feeding to your pigs, or fertilizing your (outdoor) plants. Make whey good whey puns any whey you can.

Now add the hot (almost boiling, about 175 degree F) water to the curd/whey mix, slowly, and only enough (a couple cups at most) to bring the temperature of the curds to 92 degrees. Rest another 10 minutes.

Drain off more whey, half of it if you can. Slowly add more hot water to bring the temperature to 112 degrees F. And stir for 30 minutes, gently, to keep the curds from matting together. Let the curds rest for 30 minutes, while you…

Make a brine solution by pouring 2 pounds of salt into 1 gallon of water and heating it nearly to boiling. Allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for tomorrow.

Pour off the rest of the whey. Scoop the curds gently into a butter muslin or cheesecloth lined mold. Press at 20 pounds for 10 minutes, 40 pounds for 20 minutes, and 50 pounds for 12 hours, turning and re-dressing the cheese after each weight change.

Drop cheese into brine solution and soak, refrigerated, for 12 hours, turning occasionally.

Place in a cheese cave or dorm-size fridge set to 50 degrees F. Turn over daily. After several days to several weeks, when a good dry rind has formed, wax that cheese with cheese wax. Continue to turn daily, for at least 2 months, although a year or more is ideal.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tomato tripods

One post per year is either pathetic, or an interesting way to see a garden change. Let's go with interesting. Like last summer the house is on the market, and like last summer, there are not enough fully employed in the state to sustain a housing market.

In the past year we have added several hundred square feet of garden. The neighbors are allowing a silver maple (i.e., giant woody weed) to grow over our vegetable garden. So we dug a new bed, actually expanded an old bed along the garage. Here you can see the tripods that I set up today. Apparently I planted heirloom indeterminate tomatoes - in other words: tomato vines.

Heirloom tomatoes are a hot topic this year, and I enjoyed trading seeds all winter. Pictured here are Black Krim from seed that we saved from last year, black or white cherry tomatoes (the seeds got mixed, oops!), and a unique rare variety called "Sojourner's South American." The latter are big plants with huge blossoms. The pictures really do not do them justice. They have grown a foot at least this last week, already outgrowing the cheap store-bought tomato cages.

We have been enjoying salads this week. The looseleaf lettuce was the first to bolt, and romaine started bolting this week. They get bitter when they switch from making leaves to making stems, flowers, and eventually seeds. The red oak-leaf variety in the front yard is still might tasty, and prolific.

We have garlic scape hummus, kale, swiss chard, a few strawberries, and sugar snap peas. Not to mention more oregano, sage, and thyme than I know what to do with. Soon we'll probably dig some new potatoes and soft-neck garlic.

The native plants are once again in bloom, pulling in native pollinators and other good bugs. I'll save that for next time, maybe next year.