Friday, September 29, 2006

One week hence

I have been home for over a week now. How have I spent my time? I made cheese, of course!

I came home and went right to work. I had to make sure I remembered everything that I learned while in Devon.

Before I could make cheese, I needed to consider how I might age it. I can't just leave it out for the cats to sniff, and it needs to be kept in a cool, humid environment. I need a cheese cave.

I lack anything close to cave like conditions in my Sunset District home. They don't build basements in homes built on ancient sand dunes. Like most American homeowners, I DO have an extra fridge in the garage. When we remodeled our kitchen, the old fridge went to live downstairs, just inside the garage. Jim claimed it as his beer and soda fridge. During the holidays it masquerades as a legitimate refrigerator. Well my plans now include putting this extra power drain to good use. A few months ago I bought a device that overrides the refrigerator's thermostat and raised the operating temperature to proper cave temperature. Most fridges don't like to hang out at 50-55 degrees. So I plugged the gizmo in and put copper sensor rod in the fridge. I monitor the temp inside the fridge via a thermometer that registers temps as well as humidity. Now I'm playing with pans of water in the fridge to keep the humidity up. A fridge is a natural dehydration chamber, so keeping water in something that lets it evaporate into the air in it is critical for proper cheese maturation.

Jim came home, went into the garage to start a load of laundry and came upstairs with a puzzled look. "What did you do to the fridge?" he asked. He's quick, I'll give him that. I know he knew the answer, but I humored him. I gave him a big smile and said, "I converted it into a cheese cave."
"Oh," he said. "What about the stuff in the fridge?"
"It's only soft drinks and beer. They can stay in there so long as I'm not aging cheese. They'll be kept a bit warmer, that's all," I said trying to comfort him. "And besides, you wanted to get rid of it."
"But that was before I put beer and soft drinks in there." He just shook his head and knew he couldn't win this conversation. I now have my cheese cave.

Back to the cheese. I got home on Wednesday. Thursday was spent doing laundry and shopping. I had to restock our real refrigerator. Wednesday night I discovered a roasted chicken breast that was left over from a meal five weeks ago. It had turned blue and smelly. Toss. I also tossed a few other nasty looking specimens. I guess Jim didn't go through the fridge while I was away. Off to the Serramonte Farmer's Market on Thursday. Stocked up on good fruit and veggies. Also made a Trader Joe's stop and got some goat milk. They carry a brand that's NOT ultra-pasteurized. Critical for cheesemaking.

Friday I made cheese. I tried to do a modified Ticklemore Goat. It is hard to replicate the conditions of the make room and aging rooms at Ticklemore because I can't just throw water on the floor and have the room temperature kept at appropriate aging temps. I've got to live here! So I dry the young cheese in the kitchen and then moved it to the cooler office downstairs. I put it into a large cardboard box to keep the humidity up. I also have placed a couple of clean, wet cloths in cups of water to wick up moisture and release it into the box as well. Hopefully this will keep the air humid enough for my cheese.

The photo above shows it when it was a few hours old. The image below is the cheese at one week of age. We have achieved fuzz! P. Candidum to be exact. Three more weeks to go! The cheese went into the cave yesterday.

My other project: I'm starting to write a business plan. Gotta get these ideas out of my head and onto the illuminated page.

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