Who said 'Blessed are the cheesemakers'? (OK, it was Monty Python) - a tale of unblessedness and a lot of cursing follows!
As you will recall, if you follow my blog, Me and Him went on a cheese making day in February, just for fun. It was our Christmas present to each other. We rather got the bug! Him decided he'd like to try this again so, after a lot of dithering, I ordered all the bumph and bits we'd need - the last bit was some nifty tiddly spoons for measuring tidgy bits of this and that - and despite the postage only being 99p on Amazon, they took an age to arrive; from America!
It then took me a little longer to work out how big a drop, smidgen, pinch, tad and pinch were in real terms. We knew that homogenised milk is OK, pasteurised is second best so, Tesco having failed us, we head to Waitrose for some Duchy milk that will fit the bill (and a good coffee shop nearby).
All sorted, eyes down, look in, we're making cheese!
Armed with the set of destructions given to us on our workshop - I spotted the nifty idea for holding things in the kitchen on Facebook - for a freebie, it works as an idea.
So we make a start, follow the destructions to the letter, stir this, add that, wait (and grab another coffee) .... and get to the point where we should have curds forming in the pan. We still have milk. Check destructions, everything added, give it a little longer, drink more coffee. We still have milk. This goes on for several hours by which time we are thinking there is something seriously wrong here - and you know whose fault that will be then?
Now, I've never been a great one for all those RE lessons in school, good tale, pretty implausible in my book. You can have your opinion, I can have mine. Him believes in all of them and frankly it hasn't worked on the cheese, so I try my approach to things. Swear. I have a cuss box and I pop in money from time to time - that's why I save £2 coins, handy for the odd F word. If you've not seen many £2 coins recently, that's because they are in my cuss box. I popped a tenner in the cuss box and told this pot of milk exactly what I thought about it.
Sarah and Chris from Shebbear Cheese, who ran the course, use rennet tablets, I couldn't get tablets so bought liquid rennet. The bottle says 4 drops is enough for 5 litres of milk and I have 4 litres. 4 drops it is then? By the time I'd sold my soul to the crossroads devil and added about 20 drops - and a lot of £2 coins to the box, Him suggested we go out for coffee and cake. A watched pot never curdles. Out we go, with one more curse to just make sure. I swear the pan had red ears from all my cussing, and do I care?
Well, someone is on my side, when we get back we have curds! Whatever we did wrong is now right(ish). So we scoop and drain and mold, fingers crossed this works. In about 4 weeks we should have some Cambozola.
This shouldn't have taken us long, but it did. So we decided phase 2 - we're making a soft blue cheese as well, could wait until the next day.
We measure, follow destructions, stir, wait ... and wait .... and wait ..... we've still got milk and no curds. Just where is Beelzebub when you need him? Surely he heard me, half the town did! So back to counting £2 coins. I applied the same logic as the day before - swear, add more rennet, swear again, add more rennet, swear again and go out for coffee and cake. Et voilà! we come back to curds. See, it's darned all to do with the rennet, it's to do with the cussing.
So we scoop and mold and settle down for more coffee. But this is bugging me. There has to be more to cheesemaking than adding to my (now well stocked) cuss box. Then I resorted to Google.
It would seem that our rennet ratio is a bit out. Quite a lot out it seems. Having had a good compare on t'internet, 1 rennet tablet is equal to 1 teaspoon of liquid rennet. We needed 1/4 teaspoon and that's 25 drops. Pffft, where do they get 4 drops to 5 litres from? Perhaps the bounce-quality of our cheese will be higher, we have a few more weeks to wait until we get to find out.
We ended up with a lot of whey to deal with. You can't just pour it down the sink, it's considered to be effluent. As those who follow my world will know, drainage features large in our lives - or the lack of it (but we are getting there, Wessex Water have almost said yes to our request to put in our own surface water drainage, linked to theirs; just another form or two to complete and money to change hands for approval).
I'd read somewhere that you can make ricotta from whey so, armed with my tablet I found a suitable You Tube video - one I thought I could bear to watch (some are sooo bad) and settled down to follow the instructions. Now, our internet is pretty flaky around this house and, although everything else works fine, my tablet loses the signal about the middle of the kitchen diner, I guess it's one wall too far. So, the tablet sat on a bar stool at the end of its range and I dashed from one end of the room to the other to follow the video, with the volume on high so what I didn't see I could at least hear. A little while later we have ricotta (which apparently means double cooked - see, the internet can be educational!) Granted there's not a lot of it, I suspect the extra rennet stripped out anything from the milk, but I added a bit of salt, some chives and a bit of garlic and it's a pretty good take on home made Boursin, seeing I haven't any in the fridge. Just enough for supper, tasty and free. The rest of the whey, by now a greenish liquid, was left to cool and went on my kiwi fruit plant, apparently fruiting plants like it and it saved me from flushing it down the loo seeing it's not allowed down the sink.
The cheese at the top are the ones we matured after our workshop - I'll report back in a few weeks how these turn out. I'm hoping these run true to type and I don't need more £2 coins for a few weeks.
We both recommend the workshops Sarah and Chris run, great fun, something different (and better than a pair of socks or a bunch of flowers for Christmas).