This may be one of my most important posts ever.
In the coming hard times, I think a lot of us wil be stepping out of our comfort zones. We will be doing things we never thought we would have to do, learning skills and passing them along to others. When I started making hard cheese, I read all the books, watched a few videos and even took a short class on the subject. Then I got the actual milk and had to begin. I could pass on the steps I took but honestly, you can look up that information as easily as I can. Here’s what the books will not often mention. People have been making cheese for thousands of years. They made it without store bought cultures and without any equipment except what they could cobble together from what was on hand. As I was working on my cheddar I found myself agitating over every step, getting upset when the temperature strayed outside of the perscribed parameters or when the humidity was higher than expected. There was a pungeant smell I hadn’t heard about. it was so hot and humid that the cheese was not drying a quickly as I hopped. After getting a bit frazzled, I took a deep breath and calmed myself. I got creative. I turned my dehydrator on to its lowest setting, maybe 80 degrees, and let the cheese dry in there. I’ll wax it tomorrow. I posted a question about rodent control and was told to set the wheel on top of a 1/2 gallon mason jar. The mice can’t reach it. There was a slight mold forming but it wiped right off with some vinegar. The cheese looks funny. I didn’t have a disk that was the right size so the top is lumpy. I didn’t pack it in tight enough and there are a few divits in it. It won’t win a prize in any contest worth its salt. I very nearly didn’t post the pictures because I was a little embarrased but then I got real. We won’t be perfect. We may not even be very good, at least right away. But we’ll be good enough.
I hope you enjoy the slide show. It displays my lumpy cheese, the gorgeous dandelion jelly, my cheese press and a picture of us putting in a fence to keep the woodchucks out of the lower garden. It doesn’t show the satifaction of a job well done. It can’t show the pride I feel when I learn, at almost 59, to hang a fence or create a jar of fabulous jelly, one that people pay actual money for. My cheddar may look odd, but I can’t wait to serve it to my friends and family. Don’t let yourself get so intimidated by the process that you never take the plunge. There is much to learn. Messing up is part of the deal.