Thank you all for your patience with my bad mood on Friday. I’m better now.

What really helps when I get the blues is to get busy. The stars aligned yesterday and I found myself with 2 extra gallons of raw milk from my CSA and a full day without some mid-day interruption so I decided to try cheese making again. The first batch of cheddar I made fed the chickens. I won’t give up until I master the process.

It isn’t hard but it does take some careful watching to keep the temperature in the right range. You have to heat the milk to 90 degrees and add the mesophilic starter, hold for 45 minutes, add the rennet and hold for another 45 minutes. The you cut the curd and increase the temperature to 100 degrees over the next 30 minutes. Ricki Carrol’s book says to do this in a sink of hot water. My sink is big enough to wash a Volkswagen in and I hated to use tha much water so I got out an old enamel canner I had in the basement. My big stock pot fit in just right. I was able to increase the temperature by turning on the gas for just a minute every ten minutes or so. It worked out really well. Next the cheese is pressed; 10 pounds for 1 hour, 20 pounds for another hour and them 50 pounds for 12 hours. I took of the cheese cloth this morning and my round looks lovely. I think I will dry it on the counter for a bit and them see what the humidity is today. I may transfer to my Excalibur. Set on the lowest setting, the cheese will develop a nice rind and the cat won’t get into it.

There are so many benefits to knowing how to do this. In the spring and summer we have a glut of milk but production slows down in the winter. How nice to have a way to store that calcium and fat for later use. And having cheese makes so many wonderful foods possible. This cheddar was made from cow’s milk but the goats are kidding now too and I have ready access to goat’s milk so I think I’ll be doing a lot of cheese making in the coming months. No wonder I prefer pants with elastic waists.

Ignore the tags on my pictures. I have figured out how to tag a folder but not individual pictures. These are obviously not pictures of Phoebe wearing the pajama bottoms she made. Ah well. One skill at a time. During the Zombie Apocalypse, it will matter more that I can make cheese than tag photos.

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