Cheesemaking- First Time!


IMG_20141109_194531576I keep a list of things we make ourselves now rather than buying; cheesemaking has been on my radar for a while. I love cheese and the idea of making it fresh, saving money and having it whenever we want or need it in something seems like a dream.

But like many things, uncertainty looms over and sometimes causes me not to try immediately.  Daughter Rachael knew that and bought me a Cheesemaking Kit for my birthday. It makes goat, mozzarella and ricotta cheeses and bunches of each. And although you don’t need much to make cheese, having a kit with a little thermometer, cheesecloth, rennet tablets, citric acid and cheese salt already in it, along with a really cute little cartoony type instruction booklet made it seem so simple!

This past weekend, while daughter Laura and family visited I thought that would be the perfect time to try it out. Hubby makes a killer pizza crust and I had canned pizza sauce from the garden in the pantry. Cheese and a few veggies were all that would be needed for a great grilled pizza, so out came the kit and off Laura and I went into our cheesemaking endevour!

Milk is important! Buying raw would have been fantastic, but I could not get my hands on it. I bought organic milk but not one that was high temperature pasteurized. I will say the end result was great, so the milk we selected worked.

First you pour the entire gallon into a pot, add your thermometer and wait. Cheeses are different, but we needed to wait until 90 degrees was hit before proceeding. It took several minutes for our icy cold milk to reach that temp.

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Once it did, we could begin adding our other items like the citric acid and rennet. Our directions told us what temp to hit and at what point. It was easy to follow and surprisingly simple to proceed. We watched the thermometer, stirred and like a miracle little curds started to appear and rather rapidly at that!


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At the appointed time (which was pretty short), we could scoop out our curds.

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We drained the water off, divided it in two pieces and shaped each into a ball and dropped it back in the whey for just a bit. When the cheese “ball” it 135 degrees we removed it and began kneading it. In the end we shaped ours into balls. It was AMAZING! We had made cheese!

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One ball was saved for the next day and we used it in a quiche for breakfast. BUT the other was enjoyed immediately on our pizza.

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It was so yummy. I don’t know that I can ever go back again. After my supplies from my kit are gone, I will buy what I need and continue on. Like so many things, once you cross the hurdle and try, you are so glad that you did. This was no exception. Yeah for another rite of farmgirl passage and into the cheesemaking world!

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Pizza Sauce- Canning Recipe!

IMG_20141015_094829444If you are still picking tomatoes like me, you may be running out of ideas for canning them. We have lots of tomatoes canned so I started thinking about other things I could do with them.

Since hubby makes a GREAT pizza crust, I thought Pizza Sauce! I knew that I would so appreciate having “ready made” sauce on a busy night with a fresh crust.

First you need about 13 to 15 C of tomato puree. It took me about 16 lbs of tomatoes to yield this.

For  the puree I used two methods in this sauce. I ran 1/2 the tomatoes through a food mill. I don’t have a picture because I was not coordinated enough to take a picture while turning a food mill. I quartered the tomatoes and ran them through.You do not need to skin or seed them as the mill takes care of this. If you don’t have a food mill, you can find an inexpensive one at Meier’s or another store like that. Mine was $20 which was cheaper than any I found on Amazon.

While I was making puree with the food mill, the other half was roasting. To do this, simply cut the tomatoes in half, put them on a cookie sheet and roast at 375 for about 25 minutes. We have a convection oven, so you may need to adjust a bit. They are done with the skins are toasty.

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This is such an easy thing and a bit of a cheat, but you don’t even need to remove the skins. Run them through a blender and you have great puree.

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I poured this puree into the other puree from the food mill and let it simmer for a long time. I mean all day. I went upstairs to my home office to work and it just simmered and simmered. No lid; you want it to thicken. The thickness is up to you. All day simmering gave me the thicker, pizza sauce consistency I wanted.

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After I reached the thickness I wanted, I added 2 tsp of dried Italian Seasoning, 1 tsp of black pepper, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of garlic powder. You can add other types of seasonings if you would like, but make sure they are dried seasonings. In the bottom of each pint jar I added 1/4 tsp. of citric acid. This yielded me 5 pints.

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I processed these in my pressure canner according to directions. Please refer to your canning instructions to insure proper processing. Mine called for 11 lbs of pressure, 25 minutes for pints, and then 10 minutes to rest after the pressure released before removing. You could also water bath these using the instructions that Ball gives for tomato sauce.

The sauce thickened even more after processing and cooling. You can tell by the space remaining in the jars.

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I cannot wait to spread this on a fresh pizza crust on a cold wintery day and taste a little summer.

Happy Unleashing!

FGU