Wednesday, July 28, 2010

101 Ways to Drain Your Cheese!

Not really, but here are a few ideas . . .

Ricki (the Cheese Queen) (our owner and supreme ruler) came up with this one recently at one of her workshops.  (She has a lot of these fabulous furniture pieces at her castle in Ashfield, MA. where she teaches Cheesemaking 101.)

Ricki recently visited Farmer Bob in Maine (see our July Moosletter).  She took this picture of him watching his curds drain.  (It seems there isn't much to do in Maine!)  The S hooks appear to work quite well.

At another farm, the S hooks are used as well, only they're smaller.

Home use is where it gets fun!  We'll start with the most typical methods like simply tying the cheesecloth around the top of the pot.  Terry Travers sent us this but she wanted us to know that her cheese is not pink-her wood ceiling cast this color down in the afternoon light.

Another common method is to hang it from something laid across the top of the pot.

If the pot is deep enough, this is a creative solution.

If your cabinets are high enough, this technique works well.  Kristeva at Howling Duck Ranch uses a jelly bag to drain her ricotta curds.

Another useful cabinet.

If your faucets are high enough, you're fortunate indeed.

Almost anyone can use this method, but you don't usually want the refrigerator to be on or the curds won't drain properly.

Now, we are getting into the more unusual (but very creative) ideas.

This contraption is a jelly strainer, used by Amanda Erickson at FUCheese.  She says it's a space-saving device because it comes apart into 4 pieces and packs away.  She has also used a camera tripod and a banana hanger.

We would love to hear about your ideas, so send pictures to us at

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Cheese Maker#9 - Mia Herrera

Mia Earth Song Herrera
Age: 11
LaBelle, Florida

Mia's mother, Maureen, first wrote to us with the address of her farm so we could list it on our Good Milk List.  She mentioned that her young daughter actually sells the milk.  We asked her if we could interview her daughter and she agreed:

How did you get into the raw milk business?
First I want to thank you for interviewing me. This is my first one outside of fairs. My name is Mia Earth Song Herrera and I am 11 years old. I show Dairy Goats.

When you show goats one of the things that you want are big producing udders.  After starting out with one little doe and planned breeding and showing I was able to buy better goats with the premiums I won or earned at fairs.  So with better goats with bigger udders you get more milk.

We couldn't keep up with all the milk so we started making ice-cream, yogurt and then tried making cheese. I had already started selling my eggs to pay for feed for the chickens and some of our 4-H and show friends said that they sold their milk.  So we decided to try it. I think it was the best decision. The funny thing is that before we sold the milk we had so much our freezer was full and when the news got out, WOW! it was all gone!)

How many goats do you have?
I have 13 goats in all but only three that are in milk right now. Our milk sales vary between 2-5gals per week, it depends on how much our doe's produce and how much people buy, also how much my brother drinks ha-ha!)  One of these lactating does we use her milk for bottle-feeding one of our baby goats.
All of our animals have their own personalities with names.  Our  3 lactating does - Lala, Jazz, and Harvest are my top showers as well as top milkers.
Lala/Innuendoe is the brown one that looks like a teddy bear-her milk has lots of butterfat in it.
Jazz's baby, the smaller white doe gives us just as much milk as her mommy, but in a smaller package!
 The big white doe with the nice big udder is All-that-Jazz.  The creamy, frothy milk that we get from her smells and tastes like melted vanilla ice-cream! She is our sweetest girl and dressed up for the occasion to look her best, even putting on a little lipstick. lol.  Actually, we give them treats on the goat-stand and she likes cranberry apple juice!
Here are some more pictures. There are a few of the milking demonstration we gave at Manatee Park to the inner-city kids that were at summer camp there. They had so much fun milking our goats and it was fun teaching them. Some were "natural" milkers, they picked it up really quickly!
Here is a picture of me with our little preemie doe. She loves to snuggle in bed with me (don't tell mom!).
The one with the long bell-shaped ears is Desperaux -such a cutiepie and so sweet!
Here are some more pictures of our farm, and me showing other kids how to milk and me at some shows.
These are some pictures of me and my goats and some of my baby chicks that I raised. These chicks are hens now and are laying lots of eggs!
  The small white goat is Harvest and she has won in 4-H Youth Shows at several big county fairs and at the State Fair in Tampa. I won Best of Breed with her and 2nd in Junior Showmanship.
The big white doe is her mom, All That Jazz, who has won Grand Champion 1 time and Grand Reserve 3 times in Open shows (against top breeders) and Youth shows.
We have to shave/clip our goats with electric trimmers and trim their feet/hooves, their coats must be sparkling white and they must be in top condition. Every day I feed twice a day and bottle-feed the baby goats and milk their moms.  
We have a Record Book that we must complete for each 4-H project and it has our feed/health maintenance expenses, income and depreciation, types of medicine and doses, milk production and sale of livestock plus herd management and pictures plus a summary/story of our project. If we do it right, and they put all our community service hours together and the other things we do during the year, like being elected president for two years in a row! then we can win medals and pins through 4-H. If we win at shows we win premiums and can use that money to buy better goats. I won a scholarship this past year at the State Fair to buy a goat for next show season!

From Mia's Mother-Maureen

Here are some pics of Mia making mozzarella.  This is our second time trying to make it because the first time we put too much rennet, I think, and the cheese never stretched. I think we kneaded it too much as well because it came out like hard little balls - it didn't even melt in the oven! Golf anyone? 
This time she checked and rechecked the temp, bringing it up slowly until it was just right. We put in the correct amount of rennet and citric acid but it still didn't stretch like we think it should.  (Maybe you can tell us what we are doing wrong?)  It tasted great, though.
The good thing is, we eat even our "mistakes" and really enjoy making it from our girls' milk.  I think the best one that we have made so far is the extremely easy Chevre.  Sooo good melted on Portabella mushrooms with minced fresh garlic and olive oil on  the grill. yummmm!

From Us
Mia, you are fabulous!  We can't help but notice that you handle responsibility well, you teach others, you work hard and you are absolutely adorable!  Keep us posted and YOU GO, GIRL!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Washington County Cheesemakers

Proud Sponsors of the 2010 Annual Free Washington County Cheese Tour
September 11-12

Who are the Washington County Cheesemakers?

This comes from the home page of their website- "We are a group of artisinal cheesemakers located in scenic Washington County, about one hour northeast of Albany, NY. The county rises from the plains of the Hudson to the foothills of the Green Mountains on the eastern border. It has long been, and still is, a major producer of cow's milk. 

We are attempting to bring back distinctive cheesemaking from cow's milk, but also from sheep and goat's milk. We think we're doing a great job and urge you to seek out our cheeses in finer cheese shops in your area or to come visit us at the farm, especially during our cheese tour in the fall."
When is the Cheese Tour?

This year will be the 4th annual tour and it takes place the weekend of September 11-12 from 10am-4pm both days.

What happens there?

Five farms in the area open their doors to the public and serve samples of their cheeses.  These are the farms (as described in a packet we were sent):

Argyle Cheese Farmer in Argyle, NY
Marge Randles of Randles Fairview Farm makes cheese from the cows that her husband, David and his brother Will raise. It's a tradition that goes back for five generations.  Marge was working as an accountant and a certified financial planner when they were looking to increase the value of their cows' milk production through challenging times in the dairy industry. Although the herd is small (50 cows), it provides an abundance of rich milk and allows them to make a variety of farmstead cheese like Caerphilly, a semi-firm, aged cheese with Welsh roots (the cheese makers' favorite).
3-Corner Field Farm in Shushan, NY
Karen Weinberg and Paul Borghard own and operate what was the first sheep dairy in Washington County (and one of only four in New York State).  They are the third family to carry on the tradition of farming at this location since the first farm family started milking cows in the mid-19th century and they use the same old-fashioned farming techniques. They've completed their first decade of milking sheep and raising lambs and their sixth year of creating sheep's milk cheeses and yogurt.  Several of their cheeses have received awards from the American Cheese Society.

Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, VT 

Angela Miller and Rust Glover enlisted partners, famed cheese-maker Peter Dixon and master marketer Chris Gray, to help them reinvent and revitalize the first cheesemaking co-op in Vermont, founded by Consider Bardwell in 1864, on the sight of this 300-acre farm that straddles the border of Vermont and Hebron, NY.  Now in their 7th season, the team has created nine award-winning, hand-made cheeses with their own goat's milk and cow's milk from Jersey Girls Farm in Chester, VT.  The cheeses, sold locally and nationally, grace many 4-star restaurant cheese plates.  The barn features a farm store and a cafĂ©.

Longview Farm in Argyle, NY
Liza and David Porter were looking for a place to expand Liza's cheesemaking operation while they were living at their suburban Wilton home.  They moved to their Argyle farm in 2005 and added a herd of French Alpine goats.  They seasonally produce farmstead goat cheeses, as well as Liza's artisanal cow's milk cheese that she creates from the milk of her neighbors herd off  Jerseys and Brown Swiss.  The menu of cheeses consists of 5 fresh and 4 aged cows' milk cheeses as well as 3 fresh and two aged goats' milk cheeses.

Sweet Spring Farm in Argyle, NY
Jeff Bowers and Milton Ilario purchased their  105-acre farm in 2002, and it only took a year before two Nubian does came to live on the farm.  The farm is part of a homestead dating back to the 18th century, and has a carriage house that has been transformed into the cheese parlor.  Jeff gradually grew the herd and started making cheeses from the milk of his pure-bred "Cossayuna" Nubian goats five years ago.  Jeff's plan is to keep the cheesemaking seasonal.  His fresh chevres, White Lily(Camembert-style), Carriage House, fresh feta and Sacre Bleu are all perfect use of the Nubian milk, known for its high butterfat content.

Where can I get more information?