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Cheese Making Weekend

It’s been a long time since my last post. I had several posts in various draft states but never quite finished any of them. Oh well….bad me. Many things have been going on so hopefully I will get those posts moved from drafts to actual posts. 

The first weekend of April was Easter of course, but it was also our cheese making weekend. I guess it’s the royal ‘we’ because Becky has been making it. I look on from the next room and try to stay out of her way. 

Cheese making time is when I wish we had a cow or a goat to milk. Unfortunately this is not possible in our urban homestead. I’ve tried to explain to Becky about my secret plan to have a dwarf nigerian goat in our back garden. From my point of view I believe it’s a solid plan. Her view is somewhat different, feeling that it’s highly flawed. For example, the part of my plan which counts on being able to convince my close to 90 year old neighbour that the goat is in fact a mid sized dog may be a problem. Feeling the need to hammer this point home, Becky says one word….chickens!

“Fine!” Is my only reply.

A couple of years ago we decided to test the waters a bit with our neighbour. His house has full view of our back garden where we have our veggie patch, so anything which goes against city by-laws would need to have him on board. We were growing potatoes in a large wooden box to save on space. He asked about it one day. “What the heck is that?” Becky responded by saying it’s part of our new chicken coop. Needless to say the old timer kind of freaked out a bit. No chickens.

I’m still sure the goat plan could work. Hmmm…..how to explain things when I have to milk the goat? All plans have obstacles. The plan needs more work.

Back to cheese making. First was Feta cheese. 

   

     
Chevre fail. Next up was Chevre. Unfortunately things didn’t work out with this one. The milk just never created curds and in the end we couldn’t salvage it. The supply company where Becky bought her cheesemaking items said it’s most likely over-pastuerized milk. Of course it’s not even a consideration that it might be the pre-made starter culture packet purchased from the supplier which might be at fault. It’s frustrating to see 4 liters of milk go down the drain.

Chivo Fresco with herbs. It was delicious! I looked for a picture but due to a technical glitch I can’t add it at the moment. Maybe later. Becky was amazed at how easily this one came together and it helped to boost her cheese making confidence. 

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Stan (and Becky)

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Finding a Kefir Dealer

You say Kah-Fear…..I say Kef-her…..or, is it Key-fer?
Adventures in Kefir making!

Normally going to a stranger’s house to pick up a small ziplock bag of anything would be out of the question. But that’s what we did. Becky arranged everything about the deal online. My only contribution was to say “There’s no way in hell that you are going to a stranger’s house by yourself… I’ll drive!”

A few minutes later, a token amount of cash exchanged for a plastic baggie, we head straight home. “Let me see it, let me see it”I say. “Why do they call it kefir ‘grains’?”

And so it began….

Jump forward a few batches, a bit of uncertainty, and we think we got it all sorted out.

Kefir is fermented milk which is full of beneficial bacteria and yeast. It tastes similar to yogurt, but usually more tangy. It’s probiotic nature helps to maintain a healthy immune system and well-functioning digestive system. Kefir contains a higher amount of beneficial bacteria and yeasts than most yogurts. It’s also much easier to make.

They call it ‘grains’ because of the way they look.

image

It’s a SCOBY. This stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
When added to milk, kefir grains feed on the lactose in the milk. The lactose provides nourishment and allows the grains to grow and multiply.
Some people will give away their excess grains to strangers. Becky found several sources of free Kefir grains, but with an 8 week waiting period. Becky, not one who likes to wait, found another source for $5.

Here is where she found it.
http://www.torontoadvisors.com/suppliers?keywords=Toronto

How to Make Milk Kefir
Step 1 – use 1 tablespoon kefir grains for each glass of milk

Step 2 – place in a mason jar with a cloth over the opening, or if using the lid, don’t tighten it as the kefir needs to breath.

Step 3 – let ferment for approximately 24hours if your home temperature is 20 degrees Celsius or higher. It will depend on the temperature of your home, our house is cooler and we fermented the milk for 36 hours. This is where some of our initial uncertainty resulted in unsuccessful attempts.

Step 4 – strain the grains out of your milk and place in another jar with some fresh milk to keep it alive. Place in the fridge until you are ready to make your next batch. Start using your kefir milk.

NOTE:
Avoid using metal utensils. Try to purchase a plastic strainer (yes, our picture above is with a metal strainer, but it has since been replaced)

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