Par For The Cheesy - Home on the Range Blog at - 239184

Home on the Range

Par for the Cheesy 
Jun. 9, 2011 2:19 pm 
Updated: Jun. 16, 2011 6:55 pm

Living out here on the ranch there isn’t the competition for consumerism you might find in the city, but that doesn’t mean we don’t covet things.
At the moment, I desperately want a cheese press and an electric butter churn, as I need to start making hard cheese and it’s a lot of work to clean up my food processor every time I make butter. I have already put my order in for the press. I can’t wait to make our own Cheddars, Jack, and Parmesans, among others.

I am scheming to acquire most of these items around July, as that is when my Jersey cows should both be fresh and I will be swimming in beautiful, healthy, nutritious, fresh, raw milk. Right now, I am only milking 1 goat, part time, because Moose the leppie-calf is 'relief milking' for me, so I don’t have the excess milk to play with that I would like to, or normally do. However, I have enough to make yogurt, ricotta and MOZZARELLA.

Mozzarella can be made in an afternoon and used right away, as it doesn’t require time to ‘cure’ or ‘ripen’. I make some whenever I have a couple of extra gallons of milk and part of it I shred and freeze for pizza, or I cut up, bread them and then all I need to do is quickly cook them for fried mozzarella sticks…the best ever!

I found this GREAT recipe online. There are several to be found, but this is my favorite. The internet is so great for obtaining information on how to do things. I love it. I do.

This recipe is a discovery from the KeepingAFamilyCow boards, which  evolved from a really informative book Keeping A Family Cow. Book and board are an invaluable place to glean information on milk cows and the bounty they produce. There are lots of folk there with a ton of experience in all kinds of farmy things, especially involving cows and real food. Lots of great recipes there.

 I know, and am sorry, that not everyone is fortunate enough to own their own goats or milk cows, and gov't interference makes it almost impossible to obtain good fresh raw milk if they don't, but this recipe can be accomplished with commercial milk. With the rising costs of fuel and foods, making more of our food from scratch just makes good sense.

Here is how it's done….

Take 2 gallons of milk and pour into your pot. (Raw is best, but pasteurized will do, just not ultra pasteurized.)

I got my pot from a restaurant supply. They are reasonably priced. I have a few of these, because they are really handy. I have one that is dedicated for making soap, and the rest for cheese. I use two to make the mozzarella, because I will drain the whey into one, for use in ricotta or something else, this afternoon.

Put 2 ½ level tsp of citric acid powder in ¼ c of cool water. ( Citric Acid has many applications, from cheesemaking, to cleaning) Add to the milk and stir for 2 min. I buy it in big containers from Amazon, because it’s a lot cheaper that way, but you can get it online at a cheese supply, with your rennet and other cultures.

Heat milk to 88 degrees. This can be done in a sinkful of hot water, or on the stovetop. Depending on how busy and how distracted I am determines the method I choose that day.

Add 1/2 tsp of liquid rennet or ¼ rennet tablet in ¼ c water and dissolve. Add to the 88-degree milk and stir for about 15 seconds.

Let milk sit for 15 minutes while the milk coagulates. (This is where the curd mat forms and starts to separate from the whey. I always find this really exciting and it makes me happy.) Try to keep it at the 88 degrees. This is where the hot water filled sink might be handy. I use a heat diffuser on my gas burner, and when I turn it off, the diffuser keeps my pot at the same temp.

This is the part that gets risky. Fifteen minutes is plenty long enough to get involved in another project and forget completely that you are making cheese, until your husband shows up for lunch and you have to tell him to make a PBJ because you are tied up making cheese at the moment. This of course, doesn’t work if you are somewhere other than the kitchen at the time of his arrival.

After 15 min, stick a clean finger, preferably your own, in the mass of curd and see if it comes out clean. If not, give it a couple more minutes. I love to press my hand on the big mat of curd at this point. It’s a tactile thing.

Now, reach in with clean hands and break the curd up into pea-sized pieces. Make sure you get all the way to the bottom.

Let curds rest for 5 minutes. This is another risky spot in your cheese making. It is possible to bunny-trail by changing laundry, or checking out the garden, or picking up that baby blanket you’ve been meaning to finish crocheting…

Apply more heat and increase temp from your 88 to 108 degrees in 15 minutes time. Stir while doing this to try and keep the curd from clumping back together too much. The curd is going to shrink. Turn off heat and stir for another 15-20 min. I don’t stand and stir, I just come back and stir occasionally, if I don’t suffer from another memory lapse. I use my cheese alarm so I don’t overheat the curd.

Place a second pot in sink to catch the whey and cover with a colander. Drain the curd for about 15 min, and then flip it so the smoother bottom is now on top. This can be used for baking bread, cooking potatoes or vegetables, poured on your plants, flavored as a drink, or used to make the best ever Ricotta Cheese. I know it’s the best ever, because our friend, the chef, told me so and he should know.

Mix ½ c of canning salt into 1 gallon of water and heat to 170 degrees.

After letting the curd set, put it on a cutting board and cut into 1” strips.
 Lay the strips criss cross in a glass bowl with a little space between them. (Bowl must be big enough to fit curd plus the 1 gal of water)

Pour the salt water over the curd. I use heavy rubber gloves, but you can use spoons to start lifting and stretching the curd. I can’t take pictures of this, because my camera isn’t fond of either cheese or salt water, so use your imagination here. It’s like stretching taffy. You want to keep doing this until its REALLY stretchy and shiny. If it doesn’t stretch well, I will heat the bowl up just a bit in the microwave. It usually stretches pretty well and you want to stretch out all the lumps and clumps too. Then you can knead it like bread to mold it in the shape you want. I always sort of flatten mine out so it will fit easily in the feed tube of my food processor. This is an easy shape to cut my sticks from also.

I grate a hunk in the Food Processor to use on pizza later. I use it or freeze it. Homemade cheese makes such a HUGE difference in the flavor!

Now, I will grab my bucket of “Boule bread” out of the walk-in and pull out a wad. I make a ball to put on each pizza stone, which are covered with a dusting of cornmeal. As soon as the dough balls come to room temperature, roll them out easily. Preheat your oven to 450.

I have already taken my frozen homemade pizza sauce out of the freezer to put on Randyman’s pizza because he likes tomato sauce crust. I like basil pesto on mine, instead. So do most of the people who have eaten MY pieces of pizza, but my husband is stubborn. Hence the two stones. Leftover cold pesto pizza makes a dandy breakfast, btw.

Toss on your fixin’s, like pepperoni, or homemade Italian sausage, marinated artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, re-hydrated mushrooms and a little thinly sliced red onion. He will put sliced olives on his then I cover them both generously with cheese and salivate like Pavlov’s dingaling-dog until it’s cooked and crispy on the bottom and browned and bubbly on top.

 Oh Heavens! It’s so good! You can’t BUY pizza this great! You will find your eyes rolling back in your heads and make noises like Meg Ryan in Harry Met Sally, so if you have kids, be sure you feed them early and tuck them in before you consume this.
Jun. 9, 2011 2:33 pm
Great blog again, Petey! Ever since I made mozzarella cheese using this recipe when you gave it to me several months ago, I have coveted your beautiful fresh, raw milk! Oh, the lovely goodies I could make with just one cow or one goat's worth of milk! I look forward to reading future blogs on your hard cheese-making adventures so I can give those a try as well!
Jun. 9, 2011 2:34 pm
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.......... pizza...... :P Petey!!! You are an amazing woman! If I had the time I would be making my own cheese and then I would be 500lbs!!! Dangerous hobby for me to get into! :) I will save this blog though to a Word Doc just in case I decide to give it a whirl.... :)
Jun. 9, 2011 2:52 pm
What a great blog! That pizza looks incredible!
Jun. 9, 2011 3:18 pm
Great blog Petey. I love making cheese - I use a slightly different method but next time I am going to use your method. Good luck with the hard cheeses. I can't wait to hear how that goes. :) Now I want pizza!
Jun. 9, 2011 3:47 pm
I don't just want pizza - - I want YOUR pizza - - how about opening up a pizza place? I'd fly in from Florida for some of that pizza!! Yum-Yum!!
Jun. 9, 2011 4:08 pm
I can just see the jaw of that cow moving! I love that photo. Great blog. I won't be making cheese, though. I'll have to come to see you for some.
Jun. 9, 2011 5:05 pm
That pizza looks absolutely amazing. As usual, wonderful blog!!
Jun. 9, 2011 5:43 pm
We are on countdown to calving. I am sooo ready!
Jun. 9, 2011 5:59 pm
moooooooooooooooooooooooooo... :D
Jun. 9, 2011 5:59 pm
Blogspot wouldn't let me post for some reason. Oh well....I love cheese in any form and yours looks great. I have made ricotta, but nothing that requires raw milk or enzymes. Your pizza would easily rival any I've had in Little Italy.
Jun. 9, 2011 8:25 pm
Omg!!! I want to make that cheese only if when I'm done? I can have that adorable cow!!! She is absoultly Beautiful! I am with Bigshotsmom? I Love cheese and the stronger. mostly the better. Then you get to play with it and eat it after. Win win! YummO Thanx Petey for teaching us a thing or 3. lol
Jun. 9, 2011 8:57 pm
I agree. I tell Dolly all the time she is gorgeous...I just love that little twisted face!
Jun. 10, 2011 9:15 am
I'm cheese addict. DH doesn't get my "cheese for cheese sake" mentality, so I can't wait to see his expression when I tell him I'm going to try making my own mozzarella! Thanks for the wonderful, funny, informative blogs. I learn so much from you!
Jun. 10, 2011 9:42 am
Good luck Mangel! When you slide that pizza in front of him with your melted mozzarella, he'll be a believer :)
Jun. 10, 2011 10:07 am
Awesome, somply awesome! A cheese-maker and an instructor par excellence! Another "Petey" food to try making. Thanks!
Jun. 10, 2011 5:42 pm
oh, i envy you!!!
Jun. 11, 2011 5:35 am
Great blog. I've been looking for a raw milk source here in Las Vegas but as you stated, government interference gets in the way. It's not illegal in Nevada it's just not able to be approved for sale. And keeping my own cow in our condo would be greatly frowned upon. I look forward to your hard cheese adventures.
Jun. 11, 2011 12:30 pm
Cookinupastorm......I can just see the headlines. Cow living in a luxury highrise with a view of the strip:)
Jun. 14, 2011 5:57 am
Petey, I heart you. :o)
Jun. 14, 2011 8:02 am
LOVE this blog Petey! One day I will make my own cheese...I swear! :)
Jun. 14, 2011 7:00 pm
Petey, thanks for sharing your stories. I wish you didn't live so far away....
Jun. 14, 2011 8:49 pm
If you get a cow living in a highrise on the strips, I must advise you NOT to invite it to play 'craps'. You might get more than you bargained for!
Jun. 16, 2011 11:47 am
Jun. 16, 2011 1:50 pm
I love that scene in that movie. That pizza would definately make me make noises! lol Great blog!
Jun. 16, 2011 4:33 pm
im trying to convince my husband to let me "buy" a milk cow. there is a large group of farmers in the area who allow people to "buy" one of their cows, then they keep and take care of said cow while the "owners" collect all of the milk that is produced. its a different way to get around not being able to sell raw milk. love your blog.
Jun. 16, 2011 6:55 pm
Milkshares, yes. That would be a great way to be able to enjoy some of the benefits without having to do all the dirty work! I hope he will see how great it is!
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
My favorite things to cook
Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
My cooking triumphs
Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
My cooking tragedies
A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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