Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Glorious goat cheese

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Milk and curds and whey, oh my!

Little Carrie and Steve headed over to Sammy's farm today to pick up more goat milk. Since he got the pasteurizer working, he's got a full docket of cheesemaking.

I joined Carrie Carrie in the cheeseroom right after breakfast. Carrie and I "dipped" or scooped the curds that were cultured last night and left to sit until morning. The dipped curds were gently poured into cloth-lined draining tray and left to sit for 24 hours. We cleaned the pasteurizer and got it ready for more milk.

Next we prepared a few wholesale orders. We wrapped one-third-pound logs of chevre for a market near Charlotte as well as for a few restaurants. I like the flavored logs. Some are rolled in peppercorns, some in dill or other herbs. We also packaged more flavored, spreadable chevre. We also made some really tasty marinated chevre rounds. Quite a bargain at $7.00 a pack. I think they're too cheap, but the economy here might not support a more expensive product, according to Carrie Carrie.

When Steve and Little Carrie returned with fresh goat milk, we poured it straight into the pasteurizer. It takes about an hour to pasteurize. The milk must be heated, maintained at 145 degrees and then cooled down again. Once the milk has reached the right temperature, it is transferred into the vat. Culture is then added which begins the acidification of the milk. At a predetermined time, rennet is stirred in, and everything is left to sit for a while as the curds begin to set. Rennet clips the protein in milk so the milk solids want to bind together and the leftovers are expelled in the whey.

I'm really impressed with Steve's economy of scale. They make the most of every batch of cheese and every inch of space. From this vat of curd, we made several cheeses. First, we made 60 goat milk camembert. Then we poured curds into crottin molds. After that, we ladled the same curds into small molds for Sandy Creek, an ash-covered, aged goat cheese that looks like a mini Humboldt Fog. Steve says his is a sweeter cheese with a different texture. I can't wait to see these cheeses ripen. One of them will be ready in a week, another in two or three weeks. The camembert will take more than a month to ripen. They are all new to me. Each one will be a new experience for me. Given the other cheeses that I've tried around here, I have high hopes for these cheeses, too.

We spent a lot of time flipping cheese. Each one must be turned three times during the day. Then they will be turned again in the morning. Turning helps the curds knit well and keeps the moisture evenly distributed.

While I was working with Carrie Carrie and the cheese, Little Carrie got to spend the afternoon in the garden. They planted potatoes today. I'm glad I was in the cheeseroom. It got really hot today. The humidity crept up, too. Cheese needs a consistent environment to make a consistent product, so the cheeseroom is always 70 degrees. Nice.

Meals today: We had tostadas for lunch. Beef, refried beans, avocado, salsa, onions, jalapeno chevre, sour cream, and jack cheese. I taught Ginnie how to bake tostada shells from fresh tortillas. For dinner, I made scrambled eggs, with homemade bacon and sautéed onions. The eggs here are so fresh and vibrant. I can't get enough of them. I'm very happy with my diet here. I wonder if I've gained or lost weight. I can tell I'm more fit. Picking up baby goats will build up your arm muscles. So does gardening.

Update on the sickly baby buck. He's doing much better. He's eating more consistently, and he's playing well with others. He's still bottle fed, but at least he's eating. That makes me happy. He's got a name now--Jonah.

1 comment:

adriane said...

Loving the blog! It makes me crave cheese. I may have to visit Cowgirl soon. :)