Thursday, March 28, 2013



7.6 L whole milk
mesophilic direct set culture
1/2 rennet tablet dissolved in 1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp non-iodized salt

Warm milk to 86°F.  Add culture, mix thoroughly.  Let ripen 1 hour.

Add rennet.  Gently stir into milk.  Topstir.  Let set 30 minutes.

Cut the curd into cubes.  Let set 5 minutes.

Raise temp slowly to 102°F.

Stir gently.  Maintain temp at 102°F 30 minutes, stirring gently.  Let set 5 minutes.

Drain off whey to top of curd.

Add 60°F tap water until curd and whey reaches 80°F.Stir gently while adding water.  Hold at 80°F 15 minutes.

Pour curds into cheesecloth lined collander.  Drain 20 minutes.

Break curd into small pieces.  Add salt.  Mix thoroughly but gently.

Place curds in cheesecloth lined mold.  Press at 20 pounds pressure 20 minutes.

Flip cheese and press at 20 pounds pressure 12 hours.

Remove cheese from mold.  Remove cheesecloth.  Air dry on cheese board several days.
Colby, left, cheddar, right

Wax and store at 50°F 2-3 months.  Turn cheese daily for first several weeks, then weekly until eaten.

Colby Cheese Making
Colby, A real American cheese

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Homemade Rennet

Homemade Vegetable Rennet
Made by cooking stinging nettles.
Simmer  (2lb) nettles, 1 litre water, 1 teaspoon salt for 10 minutes. Strain. Add to warm milk. 1 cup curdles 4 litres of milk.

Other Vegetable Rennet Candidates
  • lady's bedstraw
  • thistle
  • mallow
  • common sorrel
Rennet Preparation
Step by step guide using a kid's stomach.

Mesophilic Starter Culture

Mesophilic Starter Culture

Used for making common cheeses, such as Farmhouse Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, and Gouda. 

Method One:
Allow a jar of fresh, unpasteurized milk to sit at room temperature, loosely covered, 24 hours or until set (yogurt consistency). Freeze in ice cube trays.  Each cube equals 1 oz starter.

Method Two:
Start with 2 Cups fresh cultured buttermilk, let sit at room temperature 6-8 hours or until set.  Future batches can be made by adding one frozen cube to 2 Cups fresh milk and allowing it to sit 24 hours or until set.

Method Three:
Innoculate fresh, sterile milk with freeze dried mesophilic starter culture.  Allow to sit at room temp 24 hours or until set.

Experiment One: 
2 Cups fresh buttermilk plus a few grains of mesophilic culture (ripping off today's batch of cheese just a little).  Let sit at room temp 24 hours or until set.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Farmhouse Cheddar

Farmhouse Cheddar

7.6L whole milk
1 packet mesophilic direct set culture
1/2 rennet tablet dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp salt (non-iodized)

Heat milk to 90°F.

Add starter culture.  Stir in well, leave pot where it can maintain temp. for 45 minutes.

Add rennet.  Stir gently.  Topstir.
Cover.  Leave undisturbed 45 minutes.

Cut curd into 1/2" blocks.

Place pot into a sink of hot water, slowly bringing the temp to 100°F.  Stir gently.

Cover and let set 5 minutes.

Pour into cheesecloth lined colander.  Tie off cheesecloth.  Hang to drip 1 hour.

Pour curds into bowl.  Break up gently with fingers.  Mix in salt 1/2 Tbsp at a time.

Pack curds firmly into cheesecloth lined mold.  Fold cheesecloth over top.  Apply ten pounds pressure for 15 minutes (brick).

Turn cheese over and increase pressure to 20 pounds for 12 hours.

Turn cheese again, press for 12 hours at 20 pounds pressure.

Remove cheese from mold.  Peel away cheesecloth.  Air dry at room temperature on a wooden board.  Air dry until rind forms and the surface is quite dry (3-5 days).  Turn the cheese several times per day.

Wax the cheese.  Age at least two months.

Traditional English style Cheddar
How To Make Cheddar Cheese
Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese

Whey Ricotta

Whey Ricotta

Pour 7.6L fresh whey into a pot and heat to 200°F.  Do not boil.  Increase yield by adding 1L whole milk to the whey.  I was out of whole milk, having just used it for the cheddar, so I added about 1L buttermilk.

When curds separate, remove from heat and set for 10 minutes.

Ladle curds into colander lined with butter muslin and drain 20 minutes.

I didn't have any butter muslin, so this tea towel will have to do.
Add salt and/or herbs.  Refrigerate up to a week.

How To Make Whey Ricotta
Whey Ricotta

Monday, March 25, 2013

Canning Cabbage

Canning cabbage was easy-peasy.  Chop and boil until soft, pack into sterilized jars, process 25 minutes @10lbs pressure.

I got 9 quarts from the little cabbages, plus enough to make this soup.  Husband returned from a bird run with two red and one white partridge.  The white went in the freezer, the reds went in the soup pot.
Cabbage and Partridge Soup

2 partridge breasts, diced
1 head cabbage, diced
1 small onion
4 medium carrots
6 potatoes, diced
salt and pepper to taste
water to cover

Simmer all day.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Meatballs with Cream of Mushroom Gravy

 Oven Meatballs with Cream Of Mushroom Gravy

3 lbs ground beef
4 eggs
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons flour
3 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder


3 pints cream of mushroom soup
1 pints milk

Combine soup and milk in roasting pan and whisk together.

Mix together the meatball ingredients and form 2-3 inch meatballs. Add to roasting pan.

Cover and bake at 350°F for 1-2 hours.
Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Partridge Scalloped Potato Casserole

The other day while I was surfing the blogosphere I came across this recipe,  Country Supper.  
The picture looked yummy, but it needed some tweaking to work for my crew.  For starters, I don't buy scalloped potatoes in a box.  My version, as follows:

Partridge Scalloped Potato Casserole

12 C thinly sliced potatoes
9 Tbsp butter
9 Tbsp flour
5 1/2 C milk
3 tsp salt
A few good shakes cayenne pepper
3 C grated marble cheese
2 C frozen broccoli 
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 partridge, diced
1 C water
1 C grated cheese, to sprinkle on top

In a sauce pan, melt butter and blend in flour.  Add milk, stirring with a whisk.  Season with salt and cayenne.
Cook sauce on low until smooth and boiling, stirring occasionally with a whisk.  Reduce heat and stir in cheese.

Combine potatoes, broccoli, garlic, partridge and cheese sauce in roasting pan.
Cover and bake 2 hours at 350°F, stirring occasionally.
Top with cheese.  Cover and let melt.  Sprinkle with paprika.

Next time I make it, I'd like to add asparagus, or more broccoli, or both.  Yum!