Thursday, August 23, 2012

Say Cheese!

I know I've sort of fallen off the radar recently. Summer has a way of doing that to a farmer or indeed just anyone with children and a busy schedule.

First we had 2 visits from my Dad and Janet came once, then Vicki and Corry came for 3 weeks and now Brian (my ex) is here for a few days visiting with the kids. So it's been a whirlwind summer so far. We've eaten all the green beans in the home garden and are ready to start picking more in the big garden. We also harvested cantaloupe, cucumber, tomatoes (cherry and large) and zucchini this morning along with a dozen eggs. We've found the hiding spot where some of the chickens are hiding their eggs. They must be laying later in the day because otherwise they'd be inside the houses.

Tonight I'm working on a few days of backlogged milk by making cheese. Yes, you heard right, cheese. Soft like ricotta or cream cheese, fromage blanc is a basic unripened cheese that's dead easy to make at home and doesn't require any fancy ingredients except for some cheese cloth.

Here's how you do it:
Heat 1 litre (quart) milk to 175 degrees or just as it starts to simmer, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of active culture buttermilk (or yogurt), stir to blend. Add 2 tsp. lemon juice of white vinegar and stir. The milk will curdle, if not, add more lemon juice or vinegar. Let stand for 10 mins then ladle the curd out into a colander (strainer) in a sink lined with 3-4 layers of cheese cloth. Drain for 5 minutes. Next gather up the sides of the cheese cloth and tie them together. Tie the whole bundle to a spoon handle and suspend over a deep pot or bowl for 30 minutes to drain the whey. Untie your bundle and voila! Cheese! Now mix in 1/2 tsp salt and any other flavourings you like, squish into a mold or bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 12 hours-5 days. Serve like cream cheese or ricotta. Excellent on crackers if sprinkled with ground pepper.

I always quadruple my recipe and use 4 litres of milk at a time, adjusting the other ingredients appropriately. I'm 5 minutes away from unwrapping my latest batch and getting ready for some sleep. I will let you know how it turns out.

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