Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Training continues at Ticklemore

Monday, September 4th, 2006

This is my second week at Ticklemore. I'm starting to key into the rhythm of the work day. The day begins by pulling out index cards that are made for each cheese currently in production. The card will indicate what each batch of cheese needs, be it dry salting for the first time, dry salting for the second time, turning or moving into the cave if it is Ticklemore Goat, spiking the blue cheese. Ben usually starts pasteurizing the cow's milk for Devon Blue, so he's busy running around moving the milk from the storage tank to the pasteurizer and monitoring the temperature very closely. Everything must be absolutely clean or else you'll get contaminated milk and bad cheese.
Since we don't make cheese on Sunday, we don't need to turn any cheese in the make room. This leaves us free to do everything else. I am kept busy salting several batches o Harbourne and Devon Blue.

We break for tea and relax in the apartment. With Kay's departure, we're one person short. I can really feel her absence. We don't get the work done as quickly as before. We go back and I start doing the dishes. I'm called in to help make the Devon Blue. Today I am the mule. I scoop the curds out of the vat and plop them onto the making table. Nick and I then gently break up the large clumps so they resemble scrambled eggs.

I scoop several batches while Ben is in the other room getting the goat's milk ready in the pasteurizer. He joins us and I hand the scooping over to him. I'll prepare the curd to go into the moulds and Nick fills the moulds to just below the rim. When he has about six mould filled with curd and they've shrunken in size, he'll combine one mould on top of the other. They'll shrink so much that the two halves will settle into just one mould within a couple of hours. One vat of 212 gallons of milk will wind up making about 30 Devon Blues. Cow's milk has about a 12% yield for cheese. Goat's milk is 10%. Ewe's milk has the highest yield. I can't remember how much, but I think it is closer to 15%.

I really want to return when they're working with sheep's milk. It is a very thick milk and has a different texture from the other two milks that Ticklemore uses. Unfortunately (or fortunately,) sheep only produce milk for six months out of the year. Ticklemore quits making Beenleigh in late July, when their supply literally dries up. Perhaps I should come back in the spring to learn how to make Beenleigh and Boyton, the sheep's milk equivalent to Ticklemore Goat. Boyton is a fantastic cheese. It is nutty and faintly sweet. It has a texture like a sheep's milk cheese from the Pyrenees Mountain. There is a springiness in its texture and a creaminess on the palate. The texture comes from the size of the curd and the fact they wash the curd in warm water. This is a cheese I'd love to try to make myself. They only make a very small amount of it because most of the sheep's milk goes into their Beenleigh Blue. By the way it's pronounced BEAN-lee. Like: been there, Vivian Leigh. I'd love to take some Boyton home to share.

The small round vat is prepared for Ticklemore Goat. A separate, five gallon tub is filled with more heated goat milk. This is for their bloomy rind buttons to sell in town at the cheese shop. Rennet is added and it is left to set up.

Time for lunch.

After lunch we make Ticklemore. Nick cuts it with a paddle shaped cheese harp. He uses and arch pattern and goes around the vat. The gel like curds, immediately start to release whey and begin to sink. He leaves it to sit for a while and returns to stir it. Stirring helps break up the curds even more and they keep shrinking. He hands me the paddle and says, "Alright, give it a go!" I stir the curds using a rowing motion. Nick says, "It's like sculling." I say, "It's like canoeing." We stir all around the vat, keeping the curds moving for a few minutes. Nick takes over again and I go back to cleaning. Over half of cheesemaking is cleaning and doing dishes. Never a dull moment.

I'm called back over and it is time to make Ticklemore. Ben scoops the curd, I salt the curd and work it into the curds, and Nick and I fill the moulds. Nick then turns the freshly filled moulds to keep them draining well. We wind up making 16 Ticklemore Goats in the end.

We finish the day cleaning everything up, scrubbing down the floors and sinks and locking the door.

I spend the rest of the afternoon prepping for my Mexican dinner. I've got tostada fixings! Yum. Sarie doesn't have any ground cumin or coriander, but there are seeds of both in the cabinet. There is also a mortar and pestle. OK, I'll grind my own. I feel very proud, as I crush the fragrant seeds into a fine powder. I get everything ready and start browning my ground turkey, or as they call it, minced turkey. I add my seasonings and cook it a little more.

Dinner must wait because I need to take care of the infant cheeses. I clean up and change into my dairy gear. After scrubbing, I enter the Making Room where the fresh cheese is merrily draining. I begin flipping the 10 Harbourne Blues that Nick and Ben made. I move onto the 16 TG's. I finish with the 30 Devon Blues. I always work with the goat's milk cheese first and cow's milk cheese last due to issues with lactose sensitivites. Many people can't tolerate cow's milk, so this is an extra precaution on our end.

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