As I mentioned in my last post (Raw milk in the house) I am now making cheese with the surplus milk we get from our cow Oprah. I decided not to milk the ewes, no matter how pushy my kids get trying to convince me. I did give it a go, out of necessity to feed a lamb, and I have to say that while I managed, it was not the easiest thing to do; pressing milk out with only the tips of my fingers from very small teats. We are also not set up for milking the ewes and I refuse to go hunting for the one ewe to milk every morning. Maybe next year.
Instead I am slowly perfecting my cream cheese recipe. The one flavoured with chives is the most popular, as the plain one tends to be simply too plain. I have also tried my hand at mozzarella, with medium success but great for a first try, and a very popular ricotta, which my girls had with jam on pancakes.
The key to cheese, apart from extreme hygiene, is understanding the consistency of cheese curds at various stages. Too hard, too soft, just right, all depending on temperature, acidity and how long you leave them in the hot whey.
Making the ricotta was due to my strong dislike for waste. After making the cream cheese and mozzarella, I had a huge amount of whey left and thought that there must be use for it. As we don’t have pigs or hens at the time, nor did I want to make bread, a very successful alternative was to strain it through a very fine cheesecloth and ta da…a small amount of ricotta. Very tasty as well.
Whey is very high in protein and you can supposedly use it for a range of things, all from bread to cooking pasta and rice. The problem is that I just don’t have the fridge or freezer space to store it. I will continue researching, maybe there is more it can be used for. Leave me a comment or send me an email if you have any suggestions!
You don’t actually need milk directly from the cow to make your own cream cheese, store bought milk will also do the trick. Is it worth it? Probably not.
You need and awful lot of milk to make a small bit of cheese, but it can still be a fun thing to try out, just for your own curiosity or for the kids to learn where food comes from. Give it a go and follow the recipe below.
3 litres of milk
2-3 tbs of Lemon juice (maybe more)
3-4 tbs of Natural yogurt (I use natural full fat greek yogurt)
Salt (plenty of it)
Flavouring (optional, such as finely chopped chives, garlic and/or other herbs)
You will also need
Cheese cloth (muslin)Mixing
Mixer or bowl (for hand mixing)
Make sure all your utensils are disinfected but odourless.
Boil the milk, once it is boiling add the lemon juice one spoon at the time and stir constantly. This is where practice is a must, as you must decide how hard you want your curds. The more lemon you add the harder they are. Once you are happy with the curds and that all the milk has separated. Strain the curds, wash them at least twice to wash out all the whey (liquid from the milk) and lemon juice.
Mix the curds with a couple of spoons of yogurt, by hand or in a mixer, once it is smooth add plenty of salt and your optional flavouring. Finally, put the mixture into the cheesecloth and hang it up for about six hours. Store it in a container and keep it in the fridge.
This recipe has been adapted from Sharmis Passions blog. Have a look if you want a more detailed recipe and step description.
As all three cows have now calved, I could start my own cheese production, but I have to say that I am more than happy to just milk the one cow and make cheese once a week or so. The other two cows will likely get a calf each to make use of the surplus of milk they produce, and I am sure it is a solution that will suit us all.