Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Making Parmesan with Dannon Nicholes

Dannon holding his latest Parmesan
He's jumping right into the "hard" stuff!

Ricki's daughter, Sarah, always has her eye out for new cheese bloggers and she recently found Dannon Nicholes at Dannon's Big Cheese.  Dannon has only been making cheese for 6 months, but his results look amazing!  (We keep telling you how easy it is!)

Dannon actually has 2 blogs; one is a great cheese blog with clear pictures of his cheese making, and the other is a blog with tips and advice about going to Disneyland.  (Dannon and his family used to go there twice a year when they lived in Utah, but now they have moved to Hebron, Kentucky and he says they will soon be checking out Disney World in Florida.)

Dannon's enthusiasm about all things Disney is contagious and after you check out his blog, you might end up taking a little trip (just a warning!).

When we asked him about being one of our guest bloggers, he said,

I have only been making cheese for a relatively short time, mainly because my wife said I needed a hobby and that I also needed to learn patience.  So, after taking a class at the local library, I started making cheese.

I first got Ricki's book at the library and since this past July have made lots of cheese; probably Mozzarella (30 minutes) a dozen times, Brie, Cheese Curds, Manchego twice, Farmhouse Cheddar twice, Parmesan, and Jarlsberg twice.

Parmesan
By Dannon Nicholes at Dannon's Big Cheese

First lets start with the Parmesan. It is going to take 9 months to age before we can eat it.

The ingredients I used are as follows:

2 gallons milk (whole, 2%)
A packet of thermophilic starter
1/2 tsp calcium chloride in 1/4 cup cool water
1/2 tsp liquid animal rennet in 1/4 cool water (or 1/4 tsp liquid vegetable rennet)


Instructions:

Heat milk over low heat (double boiler) to 94ºF.
Sprinkle thermo B over milk and mix well with whisk.
Add calcium chloride and rennet, gently whisk for 1 minute.
Let set for 45 minutes at 94ºF (until a clean break).


Now whisk curds gently to cut curds into pea size pieces.
Let set for 10 minutes.
Slowly raise temp to 124ºF over 1 hour.
Let set at 124ºF for 10 minutes.




looks like cottage cheese after the curds are drained


Drain curds in muslin cloth for 5 minutes.
Put into mold and let drain another 5 minutes.
Apply 10 lbs for 30 minutes then flip.
Apply 10 lbs for 1 hour then flip.
Apply 20 lbs for 12 hours. 


using my press for the very first time


I then prepared a salt brine and soaked the cheese at 52ºF for 12 hours (the cheese weighed 1 lb and 12 ounces before brining).



After brining I dried the cheese with  cheese cloth and let air dry for 3 days.

Now, it is aging in my cheese cave at 50º, where I first flipped it every day for about two weeks and am now just flipping it every week or so.  I have also rubbed olive oil on it now to help keep the cheese from drying out.  


This cheese has been hard trying to keep the mold off and I think one reason is because I do not have very much air flow.  So, I should probably get a fan. 


my cheese after brining

my cheese right now after being aged and rubbed with olive oil

(Note:  This article will be continued in 9 months if Dannon can wait that long!)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Super Easy Basket Cheese for Children

Any kind of cheese looks good when it's made in a basket!

This is not the real thing!  But, it's great for demonstrating the cheese making process to children.  You can use cow or goat's milk, raw or pasteurized, whole or skimmed-whatever you have on hand.  As always- the better the milk, the better the cheese.

Almost exactly a year ago, Jim Wallace posted the recipe for the Original Italian Basket Cheese which you will find in the recipe section of our website under Recipes with Pictures and Step-by-Step Directions.  With his directions, you can make a soft or an aged Canestrato the way it is authentically made in Italy.

In another part of the recipe section, under "Recipes Submitted by Our Customers" the very first entry is a recipe for Basket Cheese.  This same recipe shows up on many websites when you look up "basket cheese," so it's hard to say whether they took the recipe from our website or whether our customer sent us a very popular recipe!

This recipe would be very easy for a child to make, (with adult supervision, of course) because the temperature never goes above 100F. 


Basket Cheese
From Recipes Submitted by Our Customers
(Recipe for printing at the end of this article.)

Handed down by word of mouth to Rosanne Coreano of NY, this recipe produces a rather mild cheese. It is eaten either by itself or enjoyed on Bruchetta or toast, drizzled with olive oil, a pinch of garlic salt and a slice of ripe tomato, Yum!

Ingredients:
    1 gallon milk
    1 tsp rennet
    2 pinches salt



Heat the milk to lukewarm (86-90F) and add the rennet.






Turn off heat and let set for about 40 minutes.



After the milk has set turn the heat back on to low and heat again for about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon pull the curds to the side of the pot. Keep moving the curds for about 10 minutes with the slotted spoon. (This breaks up the curd and keeps them draining.)




Remove the curds from the pot with your slotted spoon and place into a basket (our M222 or M232 is ideal for this).



Return the basket with the curds in it back into the whey and cover the curds with the whey pressing the curds into the basket with your hands.




Remove the basket from the whey and set another mold inside of the first one and put an 6-8oz. glass of water on top of it. (this is used as a weight for pressing the cheese). Press this way for 2 hours.



Take out the cheese and turn over, salt to taste, return to the basket and continue pressing for 1 and a half hours longer.  (Note:  I love salt, so I rolled the cheese in it, but most people would not want to do that.  Even I had to brush off most of the salt later.)





Remove the cheese from the press and refrigerate.


This cheese will have a 3 day shelf life. So get that Bruchetta and enjoy!

For printing this recipe:

Basket Cheese

Handed down by word of mouth to Rosanne Coreano of NY, this recipe produces a rather mild cheese. It is eaten either by itself or enjoyed on Bruchetta or toast, drizzled with olive oil, a pinch of garlic salt and a slice of ripe tomato, Yum!

Ingredients:
    1 gallon milk
    1 tsp rennet
    2 pinches salt
Heat the milk to lukewarm (86-90F) and add the rennet. Turn off heat and let set for about 40 minutes.
After the milk has set turn the heat back on to low and heat again for about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon pull the curds to the side of the pot. Keep moving the curds for about 10 minutes with the slotted spoon. (This breaks up the curd and keeps them drain in.)
Remove the curds from the pot with your slotted spoon and place into a basket. (our M222 or M232 is ideal for this) Return the basket with the curds in it back into the whey and cover the curds with the whey pressing the curds into the basket with your hands.
Remove the basket from the whey and set another mold inside of the first one and put an 6-8oz. glass of water on top of it. (this is used as a weight for pressing the cheese. Press this way for 2 hours.
Take out the cheese and turn over, salt to taste, return to the basket and continue pressing for 1 and a half hours longer. Remove the cheese from the press and refrigerate.
This cheese will have a 3 day shelf life. So get that Bruchetta and enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Simona Carini's Year of Homemade Cheese

She's a role model if there ever was one!

It's all at Briciole.

We know how it is- you want to make cheese but you can't find the time.  However, the truth is, you really can!  It's a brand new year and this can be the turning point for you (as last year was for Simona Carini).

At the beginning of 2011, Simona decided to get serious about her cheese making, and she actually did it!  At her blog, Briciole, she has recapped her year and now we can all see how far she's come.  It's one year later and she's a real cheese maker.

(By the way, if you're learning Italian, Briciole is the place to go.  She supplies the Italian words and their pronunciations for every delicious food she creates.)

un anno di formaggio fatto in casa

a year of homemade cheese

A summary of the year that just ended through the lens of some of my cheese adventures.

(French) Neufchâtel for Novel Food #12


"If you can see the magic in cheese, you can see the magic in everything."

homemade English-style Coulommiers (a.k.a. English farmhouse cheese)


"It is very versatile: try a slice with a muffin for breakfast, or drizzle with olive oiland sprinkle with herbs and a few capers for an easy gourmet appetizer."

robiola

robiola on the cutting board

A nice cheese that can be eaten fresh or aged a few weeks (I used some of it in this dish)

Bel Paese with cacao nibs

Adding a personal touch to an Italian classic cheese

I have featured images of my cheese in several editions of the popular event

Black and White Wednesday - A Culinary Photography Event, created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook


making cheese (black and white)


homemade French Neufchâtel


fresh homemade ricotta


homemade ricotta draining

with which I often make gnocchi di ricotta


I ♥ making cheese


making cheese requires patience


In May, I attended a weekend workshop with Jim Wallace on making three French cheeses


Wishing all of you the very best for the New Year

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Farmers vs Monsanto - January 31st in NYC


Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse
500 Pearl St., New York, NY 10007-1312


A Citizen’s Assembly of Support for Family Farmers vs. Monsanto

Jan. 31, 2012

When: Tuesday, January 31, 2011 @ 9:00 am

Where: Southern District Court, New York City







If you can't go to the court house, you can help by signing the petition - click here.





Most cheese makers are trying to eat healthy.  Many are small farmers trying to live off the land.  In our experience, hardly any of them consider genetically modified seeds to be healthy for humans or the environment.  Our company simply won't sell GMO products.

But, if you're a farmer who wants to switch from GMO seeds to conventional ones, good luck.  For one thing, you may not be able find them if you want to grow corn, soy or cotton seed.  Monsanto has bought out most of the other seed companies and made alliances with the remaining few.

If you do find conventional seeds and you plant them anywhere near your previous crops (or anywhere near other farms using GMO seeds), there will be contamination.  Monsanto may come to your farm, note the contamination and sue you for patent infringement.  If you're like many farmers, you will fight it for awhile, declare bankruptsy and give up farming.

If this sounds preposterous to you- it is Monsanto has an annual budget of $10 million to enforce their patents.  Seeds spread (via wind, birds, trucks on the highway and scat from mammals). Wherever their seeds have spread, Monsanto can and does enforce their patents.

Additionally, when a farmer buys Monsanto seeds, he/she is required to sign an agreement not to save the seeds from one year to the next.  They have to buy new seeds every year.  The seeds themselves are designed to withstand the effects of Roundup, which happens to be Monsanto's most popular herbicide.   

Fortunately, there are organizations challenging Monsanto in court to protect our food system:

Yes! I Stand with Family Farmers vs. Monsanto!

We have some exciting news.

On January 31, family farmers, organic seed growers and sustainable farm advocates will travel to New York City to take part in the first phase of a lawsuit filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds (GMOs), which often contaminates organic and conventional farmers' crops and exposes them to abusive lawsuits by the world’s largest biotech seed and chemical corporation: Monsanto.

In March 2011, Food Democracy Now! joined the lawsuit Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto during the first round of plaintiffs, in what could be an historic lawsuit that protects family farmers and challenges the legitimacy of Monsanto’s patents on their genetically engineered (GMO) seeds and their right to sue farmers indiscriminately. There are now 83 plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including sustainable and organic farmers and food, agricultural research and environmental organizations collectively representing more than 300,000 farmers and citizens across the country.

Shortly before the New Year, Judge Naomi Buchwald agreed to hear oral arguments on Monsanto’s motion to dismiss OSGATA et al v. Monsanto in federal district court in lower Manhattan on January 31st, 2012.

This is a crucial moment for America's family farmers and the future of our food supply. Will you let farmers know you support them on January 31st?

To add your name of support, click here to say: “I Stand With Farmers.”  http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/515?akid=456.301185.bV3MRh&t=9

We’ll deliver your comments to the farmers before they enter the court to stand up for their right to grow food without threat of intimidation and harassment.

Judge Buchwald’s upcoming decision on Monsanto’s motion to dismiss is a critical hurdle that the case must clear in order for it to move forward.

The motion by Monsanto falls within their clear pattern of diminishing plaintiff’s rights and filing frivolous legal motions similar to past legal maneuvering and makes it clear that Monsanto fully intends to continue to threaten and harass farmers.

According to the Public Patent Foundation, Monsanto has one of the most aggressive patent assertion agendas in history. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts.

As a result of these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy. Family farmers need your help today to send a message to the world: It’s time to put an end to Monsanto’s campaign of fear.

Click here to say "I Stand with Farmers" so we can deliver that message loud and clear to the farmers who travel to New York to take part in the lawsuit and for farmers everywhere who struggle against Monsanto's unfair genetic contamination of their crops.

Thank you for participating in food democracy,

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team

P.S. For those who are interested or able, Food Democracy Now! and our fellow plaintiffs invite you to take part in a Citizen’s Assembly for Support Family Farmers vs. Monsanto outside the court in an effort to stand up for America’s farmers at this crucial moment in their quest for justice. Click here to RSVP and learn more about how to participate outside the courtroom.  http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/519?akid=456.301185.bV3MRh&t=14


This video explains the issue:


Recent News

Monsanto's Vice President Appointed as Senior Adviser to the Commissioner
Michael Taylor was just appointed senior adviser to the commissioner of the FDA. This is the same man that was in charge of FDA policy when GMO's were allowed into the US food supply without undergoing a single test to determine their safety. He became Monsanto's Vice President and chief lobbyist. This month he became the senior adviser to the commissioner of the FDA.


Judge Rules GE Alfalfa Destruction was Legal, Decision to be Appealed
A U.S. District Judge in San Francisco issued a ruling finding that the USDA decision to deregulate genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa was not unlawful, as has been charged by organic and environmental advocates, including Beyond Pesticides. Judge Samuel Conti of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found that USDA did not act improperly by deregulating the GE Roundup Ready alfalfa, developed by Monsanto Co., and that the agency's environmental review of the product was adequate.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Joe Heyen and His Camembert

He retired, moved to Colorado and now he's making his own cheese.

It's play time now for Joe Heyen.  He earned it!  Joe taught elementary school for 33 years in the western suburbs of Chicago.  He mostly taught fourth and fifth grades (fourth was his favorite), but he also taught six, seventh, and eighth grades in the early years.  Now, we think it might be time for him to teach cheese making...


Estes Park is the location for the eastern entrance and headquarters
of the Rocky Mountain National Forest (elevation 7,522 ft.)
How did you get started making cheese?

In 2005, my wife, Mary Jo, and I retired to Estes Park, Colorado, where we enjoy hiking and snowshoeing.  Being retired allows me to to pursue a variety of interests. Happily, it now includes cheese making.

I learned about home cheesemaking kind of by accident. In 2006, I read Barbara Kingsolver's, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle."  My wife and I are cheese lovers and Barbara's book inspired me to check out Ricki Carroll's website.  I purchased her book "Home Cheese Making," and the starter kit for making mozzarella.



Joe used a shortened pine log to fit into the
follower and support the weights. The upper part
of the dowel is tethered to a weighted-down
clothes hangar with a rubber band!


Since then, I regularly make coulommiers and I often get goat milk from a local farm to make chevre.  The Moosletter gave directions by Jim on how to make gouda, then gorgonzola dolce, quark, cheddar (a picture of my 'press' was in the November issue of the Moosletter) and camembert.  I've made them all!  The gorgonzola dolce came out great; my second one will be ready in January, 2012.

Where are you aging your cheese?

Well, for two weeks they were in a plastic box on top of a larger box that has gorgonzola aging. Both boxes were in the garage and held inside box temps of 52-55 degrees. But, now the camemberts are in the mini fridge.  As the hygrometer shows, the temp in the fridge is running around 42-44 degrees with humidity in the low 90s.

How did your camembert go?

Today, my wife, Mary Jo, and I had our first bites. Usually, she prefers brie over camembert, but said this one had softer flavors than what she thinks of in camemberts. We both thought it was absolutely delicious. We had it on the kitchen counter warming up a bit, but the next time we are leaving it out longer, to bring out more of the flavor. I'm still eating some as I write this to you, and it is getting better as it continues to warm up. Needless to say, I'm excited! I have a coulommiers in the plastic box aging right now, and, while we enjoy both, the difference in flavor is amazing.

You have mentioned taking notes.  Does that work for you?

For me, it's crucial to make notes about my cheese making. Whenever I make cheese for the first time, I follow the directions in Ricki's book as closely as possible then I record what I did and what I did differently, if anything.

I always end my cheese notes with an evaluation (taste and comments by myself and my wife, Mary Jo). Every time I make cheese that I already made, I quickly check my notes for all the times I made that cheese to see what worked and what didn't.

For instance, last week I made quark. I checked my notes for past quarks and discovered that for some I drained the quark a long time and ended up with a drier cheese than I wanted for this particular quark. So last week's quark was only drained for twelve hours, giving me a moister and creamier quark (delicious, by the way).

Also, I recently made four small blue (gorgonzola dolce) cheeses. I just opened the first one up and, while it was delicious, the white portions were more of a caramelized color and the blue mold was very dark... to the point of being black. I emailed your tech site (jim@cheesemaking.com) and asked what happened. Jim wrote back and explained that I probably put too many holes in each of the small cheeses and ended up oxidizing the paste and mold. His response is now part of my notes for that batch of cheeses! Jim, by the way, has responded several times to my cheese making questions and his responses become part of my notes.  Here's an example:

Camembert

From: Cheesemaking.com (Jim Wallace's recipe) & Home Cheese Making, p. 158-159

Date: Nov. 10, 2011 Amount/Type of milk: 2 gal. whole from Safeway

1. Ripening
All done according to directions from on-line printout.

2. Renneting
Type/Amount of rennet: A skimpy 1/4 tsp. vegetable, not diluted in water.

3. Cutting the curd
After sitting quietly for 90 minutes, I cut the curd into large one inch or more sections. I didn't stir at all. Then I ladled into the four molds.

4.  Draining the curd
I started draining the cheese around 4:00 PM on 11/10/11. I did the first flip after about one hour. One of the cheeses partially stuck to the mat and I needed to scrape some off the mat and sort of press it back into the cheese with the back of a soup spoon. After that, flipping went okay. I kept the cheeses in the molds and draining in the pantry at 75 degrees until 11/12/11 in the afternoon.

5.  Salting the cheese
Amount of salt added: 1/2 tsp on top then a bit more to rub the sides. Six hours later I flipped the cheeses and did same procedure. Then I left them out of the molds overnight. Room temp: 70-75 degrees.

6.  Air Drying
(Date started: 11/12/11 6:00 AM,  Date finished: 11/14/11 10:00 AM)
Room temp during air drying: 57-62 degrees. In plastic box with top off most of the time to speed drying. Ceiling fan was on. Wet sponge in box to help maintain humidity level (at times I put the lid on). At first, cheeses were on metal cooling racks, but overnight the cheese and salt reacted to the metal and the cheese started to blacken. OR ELSE, black mold was starting. I rubbed with cheesecloth dipped in saltwater, used a knife for parts and the resalted the damaged area.

7.  Aging
Aging should take 3-4 weeks. 11/14/11thru 11/28/11 Cheeses are in plastic box with sponge: 55 deg. 95 hum. in garage.The garage temp is holding @ 51-55 degrees. Humidity: 95%. Moved to the mini fridge for cooler temps: 11/28/11: temp 43 hum 86 +

Joe took the time to document his process for making camembert in pictures:

Joe said, "You will notice that this picture shows a lot of dark spots on the cheeses. I am almost certain it wasn't mold. I put the cheeses on the aluminum drying racks overnight and when I flipped the cheeses I saw the dark spots. I am fairly certain that what happened was a chemical reaction of the salt on the cheese with the aluminum. I rubbed them with cheesecloth dipped in saltwater and got almost all of it off."