Branching out and becoming a homesteader/survivalist?

It’s been a while since I’ve written in this blog.  The summer is busy for me, mostly because I have four months to do all sorts of things I don’t have time to do during the class year (I don’t want to say “school year” because it sounds like we don’t work in the summer, which is far from the case).  So this is a brief update.  If I have time later, I’ll go back and give more information, really for my information.

BTW, if you’re looking for “whatsinmypot.com” this is not it.  Keep looking… maybe by typing in that address in the address bar.

I’ve eased up on brewing a bit mostlyb ecuse I had way more beer than I could drink, but not enough to share.  Okay, I’ll be honest, a few of my recent brews have been fantastic, and I’ve not wanted to give bottles away!  Now I’m in the middle of the summer, with an IPA conditioning in the basement, and a Saison conditioned and ready for drinking. I’m thinking about autumn recipes, and will probably discuss this in the next few weeks.

With summer in full swing I’ve begun to freeze berries. I have not yet begun to can anything, because it’s mostly jam and jelly season and I’ve got far and away enough jam and jelly for a long time.  I don’t eat a lot of jam.  I’m also not planning on being too innovative this year; I’ll pretty much replicate what I did last year but on a larger scale, because I ran out of peaches by March and have had to ration my chili sauce, ketchup, and marinara sauce.  The ketchup was especially popular with friends, so I think I’ll be making a lot of giftable jars this year.  The marinara was a perfect go-to dish when I was needing a relatively quick meal.  I have to remember to boil off more liquid this year, because both the marinara and the chili sauce were a little watery.

But this gets to my new thing, which is cheese making. While doing a recent on-line beer ingredient purchase, I noticed cheese making kits.  I figured since the price of shipping from this particular site is a flat rate, I might as well drop $40 on cheese making ingredients.  I chose the beginners kit, because, well, I’m a beginner.  The kits are by Mad Millies, a New Zealand based company.  The one I had seemed a little cheap, an dover priced.  A package of cheese salt (basically very fine ground non-iodized salt), a package of iodophor sanitizer–ironic given that the salt is not iodized!!–a 2 oz bottle of vegetarian rennet, a few packages of mesophilic culture, a package of dried herbs, a plastic “feta mold”, some butter muslin and an instruction book that looked like it was printed on a cheap colour bubble jet printer.

However, it got me started.  Mad Millies also has some videos on youtube and on their website that help walk you through the cheese making process. First up was cream cheese, which takes about 30 hours in total, and mostly involves waiting.  You heat a half-milk, half-cream blend (I used 10% half and half) to 22C, add the mesophilic culture, stir, then the rennet, stir, and let it sit untouched for 20-24 hours.  After that, strain through a butter muslin, and hang until it’s drained (another 4-5 hours or so).  It was very good.  I think next time I will use whipping cream and whole milk, to get it even creamier.  The only problem I had was that, with so much cream cheese, and only one person here, I ended up freezing some for later.  I don’t recommend–the liquid separated from the solids, and I ended up with cream cheese soup.  I drained it again, but it’s a little grainy (though still tastes ok).  BTW, as a lover of Boursin’s pepper corn cream cheese, i added cracked peppers to 1/2 the cheese, and it was awesome.

Next up was an ambitious attempt at halloumi, that salty, rubbery cheese that you can grill. The recipe called for unhomogenized whole milk, which I thought I found at a nearby healthy food store.  I got 4 L, and was going to use 2 L for Halloumi, and then the other 2 for feta.

Unfortunately, I did not get unhomogenized milk, just whole milk (it did not say homogenized on it, hence my confusion).  Consequently, the curds and whey did not separate, and I ended up with what looked like sour milk (grainy bits in thin liquid) instead of fragile but solid curds.  I dumped it and tried again.  This time I changed up some of the process, but still didn’t get it right.  4L (1 Gallon) of milk wasted.

You can address some of the problems of separation of the proteins in homogenized milk with calcium chloride, which I have because I bought a bunch of minerals for brewing.  So I bought another 4L, this time of the clearly marked unhomogenized milk, and added a little bit of calcium chloride (CaCl2) to the milk.  I wasn’t risking another disaster.  It worked! That is the topic of the next post. . .

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About danmalleck

Medical historian and jack-of-all-trades curmudgeon. I tend to ramble about politics, social incivility, and our self-centred culture more interested in buying the next cool ringtone or LED TV than actively engaging in the sorts of discussions and issues that matter. The more opportunity we have to buy more stuff, the less concern there is, it seems, in politics, social justice and let's face it, basic human decency, unless those things actually can save us money or get us more things to show how awesome we are through displaying our material wealth. And I like to brew beer, make cheese, and put food in jars.
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