Friday, November 17, 2006

Cheese, glorious cheese
Last week I made a hard cheese using the directions to one of the recipes that Sora linked in the comments below. Not having cheesepress, I hung the curds in a bag for about half an hour to let some of the whey drain out so it would solid enough for me to contrive something. After draining, I laid the bag on a wooden cutting board and re-wrapped the curds and shaped them into a flat wheel about three inches high, then pinned a length of cheesecloth around it, to help it hold its shape. Then I covered it with another wooden cutting board and began stacking weights from my son's weight set on it, to gradually increase the pressure to 30 pounds.

It wasn't too bad, but since the whole arrangement was tipped a bit in order to let the whey drain off, the weights also slid off a couple of times. By the next day I had a cheese that was generally round, only with one square corner where it had managed to ooze out from underneath the band.

I cut the poor misshapen wheel into quarters and salted it in order the begin the air-drying process. A couple of us tasted a sliver of it before drying and it had a fine, mild flavor, which was good, since my daughter had wanted me to make a Gouda-like cheese. After two or three days of turning and salting and air-drying, I wrapped it in waxed paper and put it into the fridge to age. Now begins the long wait - I won't know if this is really a good cheese until the sixth of February at the earliest!

My dear husband, seeing the ugly cheese, promptly ordered me a cheesepress, and some wax. Waxing the cheese was a lot of fun.

I've also recently made another batch of soft cheese - some of it molded for two days to make it into a log with a more tart flavor, and the rest of it bagged for a few hours in order to make a very soft cheese with a milder flavor. I put fresh chives, parsley and cracked pepper into the molded cheeses, and all of that plus fresh garlic in the bagged ones. These have turned out really well.

Two of our does were bred back in September and we'll be drying them off the end of this month - their kids are due end of January/early February. The other two does, and the doeling are hostessing another buck this month, and if all goes well, their kids will be due around Easter.

I should have enough milk to make another couple of batches of cheese before drying off the first two, but for most of the winter we'll only have enough milk to drink. I'm thinking about buying milk from the grocery store to make cheese over the winter, so I can be more experienced when it's spring again and we'll have milk coming out our ears.

If you've been watching my NaNo meter, this will explain why the numbers haven't been going up.

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