So now I'm at 24 head, with the majority of those being dairy heifers. I'm milking 4 of them twice a day right now - one holstein, two jerseys, and a holstein-jersey cross. Most of the milk is being used to feed calves, and I'm diverting 3 gallons a day to cheese making.
Why cheese making? It's a way to sell milk, and it's a way to deal with surplus milk in a more shelf-stable way. With fluid milk you've got to sell it relatively quickly; with cheese, a few months of aging often improves it.
If you're interested in the mechanics of cheese making, I'll talk about the stuff I'm using to make the cheese at the bottom of this post.
So I'm working through the process of making various kinds of cheese, and it's been pretty fun. Here's my first two attempts:
Plus I like to eat them. I've made 40 wheels of this type of cheese and kept careful notes about the ingredients and handling of each. Each batch of 3 gallons of milk made 3 or 4 cheeses (I varied the size a little so that I could see how they ripened if they were a little bigger or smaller) and so I'll get to try each batch at 3 ages. one relatively young (2 weeks) one midrange (4-5 weeks) and one ripe (6+ weeks).
|The natural rind is forming nicely. I can't wait to eat them|
|Farmstead feta cheese|
This is what I use for my cheesemaking:
To heat the milk and maintain the temperature on cultures or for cheddaring, I use a sous-vide water oven. You can do the same thing with a couple of pots and a thermometer, but the sous-vide makes it pretty easy to get fairly precise control over your milk and culture temperatures, and in a pinch, can be used to pasturize your milk if you'd like. (set to 145 degrees and maintain at temperature for 30 minutes). For my cheese experiments I'm using all raw-milk.
I'll warm the milk to temperature and then transfer to 3 gallon plastic totes for incubation of the culture and for curd formation.
I started with this recipe for the camenbert because by the time that it's all said and done, my mostly-jersey milk produces either a double-cream or a triple-cream cheese. Plus that's one of my favorite types, so why not make something you like to eat? Who says experiments have to be all work!
With the feta cheese I used a recipe supplied in the cheesemaking class. The basic ingredients are whole milk, culture, lipase, rennet, salt.
Both of the recipes assumed pastuerized milk ; for raw milk I was able to eliminate calcium carbonate
and use a little less rennet.
On a flavor note, there is a distinct flavor difference between raw-milk cheese and pastuerized milk cheese; having grown up with pastuerized milk, I'm finding that the raw milk cheese is particularly delicious.