Say Cheese


Continuing to learn food crafting – I ordered a cheese press and set about learning to make hard cheese. I have made soft cheeses for a while now and was ready to take the next step in cheesemaking. My first attempt came out reasonably well but I had a hard time with keeping the temperature controlled and slowly heating the curd. A trip to Chef’s Toys and the purchase of a couple of hotel pans made the next try a better experience. Using the Sansaire sous vide with the hotel pans made the temperature control accurate and stress free.
Cheese making is time consuming though. It took almost all day to prepare the curd for pressing. Much of the time was unattended thankfully: heating the milk, letting it ripen, cooking the curd, draining the curd.

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Forms of Fermentation

I mixed up a batch of bread using my sourdough starter that demands daily feeding. I measured out 500 grams of grains from their bins and milled them using my new KoMo mill. I added 100 grams of the starter, 10 grams of salt, and 400 grams of water. After I made sure they were all combined, I left them to rest in a Cambro bin.
Then, I realized I should start a batch of yogurt for breakfast tomorrow. So out came the container with the little bit of yogurt from the last batch to be combined with milk in a quart jar. This is then added to the stockpot with the sous vide circulating heater set to 110°. I have found this to be a really great way to maintain the constant temperature for culturing dairy (thanks to Ernest Miller for the idea).
When I finished the set up I realized it might be time for a family photo of various fermentations that are now underway on my kitchen counter. On the left are the little cucumbers I started a little over a week ago, then the yogurt, and on the right the dough beginning its fermentation.
All of these transformations make such good and healthy food – thanks microbes!

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In Memorium

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In June of 2008 we purchased our first chicks. They were already getting a few of their pin feathers in place of the fluff. When they had enough feathers to move outside, they did so during the day and I brought them in at night. Their first outdoors home was the dog’s crate with the floor removed. They loved exploring their new world.

One of the new girls was an Easter Egger as they are sometimes called. She was a very hardy bird and the only one left of the original flock until today. She had been slowing down and yesterday was injured. She died today. As I buried her, the other hens were looking on from the other side of their fence. I thought they might be mourning but realized they only wanted to see if I was digging up any bugs!

Our brown chicken was a great layer for quite a long time and healthy for so long. She lived 6 1/2 years – a long time for chickens. She lived a lot longer than any industrial bird and she had a great life in our yard.

We had not been getting any eggs from the younger hens for about a month and I was seriously considering culling them and starting some new girls. When I was cleaning the coop this afternoon, I found this:

Maybe she thought she should get busy laying or I might bury her like I did her flockmate!

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Pomegranates and Figs

Fig beetles were winning. They had been swarming over the fig tree and eating the ripe fruit. They are really annoying bugs. They seem to fly randomly and will bump into anything including the side of the house. Do they have eyes?

So, a backyard harvest took place this morning. I gathered all of the figs – ripe now or not. I also decided that since we had the ladder out that my husband and I should gather the the rest of the pomegranates.

A morning of food preservation then began. The figs were washed and prepped for jam. Some of the figs were past ripe and beginning to ferment. Now I know why those bugs were flying so haphazardly – they were drunk on fermented figs!

Pomegranates are juicy so we made a giant mess getting seeds out of the pomegranates. We purchased a plastic grid device (pictured below) that assists in removing the seeds. It did a pretty good job so if you have a pomegranate tree and want to easily remove the seeds you might want to try it. After seeding and a spin in the food processor, we had five cups of pomegranate juice. Jelly making will take place soon.

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Fermenting a Rainbow

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At the Farmers’ Market this morning I could not resist these beautiful carrots. I had just moved a batch of fermented carrots to the refrigerator and really did not need any more but . . .
Now these beautiful carrots are joining the other vegetables bubbling away in the kitchen. And a note about the Kerr lid picture above: I am experimenting with putting a small hole in the lid and covering it loosely with tape. As the gasses form during fermentation, the tape develops a bubble and the gasses escape. Then the tape settles back making a type of airlock.

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