Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dairy update

Merrill, from whom I get my raw milk for cheese, has started selling cream. They bought a separator a month or so ago and their first efforts were extraordinarily thick - the texture of butter. I thought I'd buy some of the more recent product and see whether it would be economical to make butter from it.

At $4/pint (600ml) this is a little more expensive than cream from the shop, which is about $5.50 for a litre.

It is, however, far thicker:

I was wondering how I was going to get it all out of the bottle. I ended up washing the last bit out with a bit of water.

It whipped up beautifully, and was quite dry - I was wondering if it was so rich that there would be no buttermilk …

… but eventually it did come together and exude a little - about 200 ml I think.

I ended up with 330 g of butter from 600 ml cream. This is a better result than the 430 g I got from 1 litre of bought cream, but still not economical. Butter in the shops is $4-something for 500 g, and I can get it at the moment for less than $4.

With my milk this week I made two different cheeses: some Camembert …

… and an experimental washed rind cheese. I started off with one big pot of milk, and used Flora Danica starter culture, allowing it to ripen for an hour and a half before adding the rennet. Once it was set I scooped out sufficient curds to fill my three Camembert moulds, then I cut the remaining curd and heated it to ~38˚C. After removing most of the whey I washed the curds in a cup or so of port then poured them into a couple of rectangular moulds (cheap plastic from the $2 shop) and let them set under their own weight. I turned them a couple of times, then soaked them in brine for a two hours.

I'll wash them in port every couple of days for the next two weeks and hope they pick up enough Brevibacterium linens from my hands to develop a nice smelly smear. It's a bit of an experiment, and I hope they reach the stage that I can leave them for a few days by the end of November. I'm going to Invercargill (famously described by one of the Rolling Stones back in the 60s or 70s as "the arsehole of the world") to the Burt Munro Challenge, a sort of race week memorial to Burt Munro.

I couldn't resist the temptation to try one of my "provolone" cheeses - inverted commas because until they've ripened a good deal more, they are really mozzarella - check it out …

… it's mild still, but getting a bit of a tang to it. Quite delicious really.

And more of my tamarillos are ripe:

I'm very proud of them; I've not seen them growing any further south than Auckland, but I planted a tree in my glasshouse and crossed my fingers and voila. It sort of prunes itself, as any bits that touch the glass in the winter die from the cold. Just as well, because they grow to six metres outside in the warm.

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