COVID19 – In the Year of Our Lord 2020

COVID19, in the year of our Lord 2020 it’s affecting us all in one way or another. This podcast format will be a little different. This episode is going to be a farmstead update only. Because of the emotional charge around this pandemic virus, I have lots of things I want to talk about regarding the homestead and our life here. I also want to take a few minutes to talk you with about how we are doing here and how we are affected by the current world situation. No recipe today.

I’d love to hear from you about how you are faring as well. Comment on this podcast on our webpage or drop me an email at melanie at peacefulheartfarm.com. Let me know if you need anything or if I can help out in any way. We are all in this together.

If you are new, welcome. This will not be the best representation of my podcast format so I hope you will come back again and again to get a better idea of what I do here. Welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • COVID19 – In the Year of our Lord 2020

Homestead Life Updates

The Cows

Violet has recovered from her uterine infection and is doing fine. Claire is due to calve in 7 to 10 days. She is so big. I let her take her time coming up to the milking shed. Buttercup is also quite big. If I have to walk a long way to gather up one of the girls, it will be Buttercup. This morning it was all the way to the farthest fence line. She just stood there and watched me as I approached. The others had all started moving in the right direction, but not Buttercup. Nope. Come and get me she says. Well, the exercise is wonderful so I don’t mind at all.

The Sheep and Goats

The sheep are still more than a month away from their delivery dates and are looking quite happy and healthy. No baby goats this year as we are reducing the herd, but the girls are looking fine. They are shedding their cashmere.

We originally got these particular goats because I wanted to spin and dye my own cashmere yarn for knitting. That never happened. We, like just about everybody else who is just starting out, wanted to do everything about which our hearts had ever dreamed. Then reality sets in and you realize that there is only so much time in the day and you must pick and choose your homestead enterprises. Your focus must be narrowed. After just 9 or 10 years we have just about settled on the final look and feel of our homestead.

Our Homestead Vision

We have the cows for milking and making cheese. The sheep are just because we like them. The goats are for specific pasture maintenance. The herd will become much smaller. Perhaps we will not breed them at all. It may be that we just keep three or four does that require minimal upkeep. That is still a work in progress. We are sure that the cashmere girls will eventually be gone completely and replaced with a few meat goats.

Pigs and Chickens?

I hope next year will be the year of the pigs and chickens. The creamery will be completed or nearly so and pigs/chicken projects can move forward. Pigs and chickens are a natural part of any cheesemaking operation. They will get any messed-up cheese and all the whey that would otherwise be poured out on the field. These are high protein, nutritious foods that will keep our animals happy and healthy. They will provide us with meat and eggs.

The Orchard

Scott loves the orchard but I have often wondered what we were going to do with all that fruit. As I said, your enterprises must be prioritized. Just thinking about how we would have the time to pick, store, preserve and market that much fruit is daunting. The pigs are the solution. We will keep whatever we need for ourselves and the rest will be food for the pigs. They will love it and we can still have this giant orchard – well it’s not really giant. We can still have this orchard that is far to big for two people and make good use of the fruit as well.

The Garden

Expanding on the orchard idea, the garden space is also much too big for two people. I have plans for growing lots and lots of root vegetables and squash for the pigs. The chickens will get to eat all kinds of greens, tomatoes and cucumbers – after I’ve taken out what I need, of course.

The Quail

We also have the quail. Scott can eat those eggs and we both love the meat.

Speaking of eggs. A couple of days ago we went on a treasure hunt. We came back to 8 Canadian goose eggs. That is equivalent to 2 dozen chicken eggs.

The Geese

Every morning on my way to bring in the cows, I passed by this goose nest. First, I saw 2 eggs, then 3, then 4, then 5. Then nest was in a horrible place. It was less than two feet from where I and the cows walked twice a day. It was also in a place where a huge spring rain would flood the area and wipe it out.

The eggs stopped increasing after five and I wondered if the nest had been abandoned. Perhaps that pair of geese had gotten fed up with us interrupting their family situation two times every day. It gave me the idea.

Goose History

Back in 2009 or 2010 we got our first pair or two of geese making their home on our ponds. We have two. The older pond is about an acre and the newer one, established in 2007 or 08, is about an acre and a half. For the first couple of years they nested, hatched a batch of goslings and then left for the winter. I’m not sure exactly when that changed but now they are with us year round and about a week or so ago I counted 36 of them.

Every year the total gets larger. There are usually at least three nests and sometimes four. Some years most of the goslings don’t survive and some years they increased the flock by a couple of dozen. Not all stayed of course. But as I said, we are up to 3 dozen birds at this point. That’s a lot of squawking geese. Hence my idea. What if we raided their nests and took the eggs? That would reduce the increase in population and give another great source of food.

The Treasure Hunt

We found two other nests but only one had any eggs. The gander guarding that nest tried to give us a flogging but we persevered. That pair nests in the same place every year. Likely she will lay more eggs. I’m undecided about snatching those as well.

That particular pair nests on the island in the larger pond. There is also another pair that regularly nests on the other side of that island. I saw them but there was no nest as of yet. I think we might have had three nests on that island at one point. There are two pairs that regularly nest up by the older pond. We found on nest but no eggs. It is still early.

Goose Husbandry

Their normal egg-laying activity goes like this. They will lay one egg each day and cover the nest. At this point the goose is not incubating the eggs. Eventually, after 4 to 9 eggs are laid, she will begin to sit on the nest and warm the eggs beginning the incubation process at that time. The gander stands guard and they can be fierce. Once a day the goose will leave the nest to feed. It takes an average of 28 days for the eggs to hatch.  Every year near the end of April, I start looking for goslings.

I’ve been afraid to try the eggs because of the ordeal that I had with the quail eggs. If you don’t know about that, go back and listen to my podcast “Am I Allergic to Quail Eggs”. I’ll leave a link in the show notes. Scott is loving them. I may give them a try as I have had them in the past and had no issues. Duck eggs give me a rash. Quail eggs — well that’s a whole different level of issue.

The Creamery

Let me finish up the Homestead updates with some info on the creamery. Doors with locks and windows with lovely sills are all completed. Scott is currently working on the roof over the barn and milking parlor. Once that is completed, the metal roofing will go on. Then the plumbing and electrical installation will begin. And somewhere along the way, the milking stanchions and milking pipeline system will be installed. We have all the pieces and parts sitting off to the side just waiting for their opportunity to contribute to the final product.

After that walls, ceilings and tile floors. Bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, various stainless-steel tables, carts and shelves will magically appear. Who knows what else? It has been a little over three years. Perhaps at the end of four years there will be much light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s it for the overview of what our homestead is growing into. Let us know what you think.

Covid19 – In the Year of our Lord 2020

Now I want to talk just a little bit about this corona virus and how it is affecting us. I know you’ve probably heard too much about it already, but I just feel the need for us to come together and understand each other, help each other out in a time of need and grow into better human beings.

Contemplation

I walked out the front door this morning and looked at the world around me. It’s glorious. This is by far my favorite part of every day. It is what it is and nothing else. There is no noisy traffic. There is only the sounds of birds. Sometimes I might hear a cow mooing, a donkey braying, or a sheep or goat baaing. The geese are always over there on the pond making a racket, or at the very least low rumbling squawks and splashing about in the water. This time of year, the sun has not risen about the horizon but the sky is light. There might be a soft breeze.  

As I walked down the path to go bring the cows in for milking and/or practice milking routine, I thought to myself “these cows know nothing about what is going on in our world.” It was one of those things that struck me squarely in the heart. We have finally been affected by the pandemic restrictions. Farmer’s markets in Virginia are ordered to close for about a month. The farmer’s market is my primary drop off point for my herd share customers. Fortunately, drop-offs are still allowed. Likely I will meet my peeps in the parking lot at the usual time – as long as they are willing. I have hand sanitizer. 😊 This is small potatoes compared to the disruption in the lives of those around us.

Past Pandemics

Scott and I are fortunate that we live where we do, with nature all around us. We are naturally isolated, keeping our distance from large crowds and society in general. Our lives revolve around the many tasks and responsibilities of raising animals. It is a full life. Going to the farmer’s market is a treat for me; a chance to meet people and have conversations with other humans besides Scott. A trip to the grocery store is usually made in conjunction with a trip to drop off product for the Online Independence Farmer’s Market or the twice monthly Wytheville Farmer’s Market. We save on gas that way. We just don’t get out much. It’s hard for me to understand the deep gouge this corona virus restriction has put in the normal person’s life.

We have chosen a different life. However, I do remember when I was flying every week and my life revolved around teaching classrooms full of doctors, nurses and support staff. I provided instruction in how to use the US Military’s custom designed electronic health record. Interestingly enough, I got sick a few times during that five years of intense travel and exposure to one hospital or clinic after another. Since we left that world a bit over three years ago, I’ve yet to have even a sniffle. Even before we left those jobs for the homestead, we worked in a hospital setting. It was the same one and we must have built up immunity to all the bugs because Scott and I have rarely been sick with any kind of flu or virus in the last 10 years. It was trippy for a while there. Especially if I worked in a pediatric setting. I’m pretty sure I caught something every single time I worked in that environment.

H1N1

And in 2009, the H1N1 was the center of our world for a while. Likely most of you don’t remember it. We geared up quickly, as is happening now, and many people stepped up to the plate to battle this new danger. All sorts of new procedures were put in place. I worked with the healthcare staff to develop new work flows for documenting rapidly when the vaccine came out. Drive up processing was set up. Tents were set up. All kinds of things we put in place to address the demand for the vaccine.

The H1N1 was the last pandemic disease. Before that it was MERS and SARS. We handled them all and we will handle this one as well. The big difference is the shutdown of society. And that is huge. I know some of you are frightened to death and others are just calmly doing what needs to be done. Some of you are at greater risk than others. I just turned 65 last week. Technically, I’m in a high-risk category though I am one of those completely unconcerned about contracting this virus. Again, we live a life of isolation. And the making of cheese, butter and yogurt ensures I wash my hands many, many times in any given day.

Present Conditions

Many of you are at risk and/or have family members at risk, young and old. I have a 95-year-old aunt. She lives with, and is well-taken care of, by her daughter, but can only wave at her son through a window. He works in healthcare. Scott’s daughter is a nurse. Our healthcare workers put themselves in danger every single day. We pray for them.

Some of you are out of work and don’t know when you will get another paycheck. Some of you own small businesses and are also wondering how you will survive. Some of you are working from home but the kids are there as well. What a challenge that must present. The stress must be off the scale for you. My heart goes out to you. Hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans and millions around the world have had their lives turned upside down. What will we do? How will we survive? Is it an over-reaction? We will never know.

We worship via streaming video. It’s not the same, but we are together in spirit. I appreciate the effort our church is putting into keeping us spiritually connected with each other and God.

I know I look at social media too much. There are all sorts of stories of people who are worried for their families. Then there are the stories of folks like us who can’t relate to fear. We don’t live in that environment. From my perspective the precautions seem excessive. The CDC has said social distancing is a must, but I don’t think they mentioned anything about shutting down much of the country. Literally shutting it down. I’m probably going to get a lot of hate over this, but I just don’t see the need. When does the cure become more harmful than the disease? I just don’t know. Again, I don’t live in a highly populated urban center or city with lots of sick people and immunocompromised people. But I do know of these people. And I do know that every year they are faced with health epidemics. This is another one on top of the others. We have never had to completely shut down in response to a pandemic. And we have one every few years. I hear people say this one is different. It is repeated over and over. That same phrase was repeated over and over in 2009 as well. H1N1 was different. That is what pandemic means. A new disease spreading easily from person-to-person, widespread over multiple countries. Each and every one is different from the last.

Well, in the end, we will all get through this. I have such great compassion and empathy for all of you struggling with a life turned topsy-turvy. If I came across as insensitive, I apologize. My personality at this time of my life is one of calm, reason. I know people whose natural level of anxiety would prevent them being able to experience their life this way. Having experience periods of extreme anxiety throughout my life, I can completely relate and I’m ready, willing, and able to listen, comfort, and reassure.

Along those lines, there are some really great stories going on out there. Companies stepping up to the plate and retooling their factories to make masks, hand sanitizer and ventilators. I saw all kinds of patterns for homemade masks this morning while browsing social media posts. There’s lots of love out there for the truckers who are keeping the food flowing. Though the hording is a bit disturbing. I do not think that we will run out of food. Truckers live isolated lives and are also considered essential. The food will keep moving. And the toilet paper thing is just bizarre to me.

How about those folks working in grocery stores and pharmacies? Also, putting themselves out there. I know, I know. They are doing it for the money too. But they gotta be thinking that any one of the people they come in contact with could be a carrier just waiting to infect them.

Our healthcare workers are being stressed at this time so keep them in your prayers. I remember the stress in 2009. Lots of them got sick. All were tired and overworked. It was brutal. We supported each other and all was well in the end. Let’s keep up the prayers for these special people who put their lives on the line to help others.

Future Prospects

We don’t know how long this will last and that uncertainty is a huge stressor in and of itself. One thing I do know is that each and every one of you is doing everything you can to get us all through this with as little harm as possible.

There are some great things happening. School may be changed forever. In this age of technology, homeschooling may make a resurgence like never before. I realize this is not a good thing for some of you. But for many, you can take the education of your children back into our own hands. I’ve seen the articles regarding how far education has move from traditional reading, writing, and arithmetic and life skills such as home economics and shop into every social, political and sexual arena possible – and not in an age-appropriate manner.

I predict the online resources will proliferate. Smaller groups of children learning together in this person’s house this week and in another house the next. Location is malleable as long as there is internet. I guess that won’t work for those without a good internet connection. That does still happen, especially in this area. Any rural area with mountains can sometimes have internet speed and connectivity issues.  But overall, I think education will improve for the better. It will be much less expensive. Online college is coming and coming quickly.

And with every pandemic exercise, new and improved methods of protecting that most vulnerable group of people we love so much are put into place. Think of it. The whole scientific medical community is focused on combatting this virus. There will be innovations like we have never seen that will come out of this. Something as small as a new workflow, isolation procedure, or sanitizing solution can make a huge difference when the next pandemic arrives. We are so innovative when it comes to survival. Think of the new medical treatments that will come out of this.

I think I’ve rambled on long enough. I’m going to close out this podcast.

Final Thoughts

We are all in this together and we will get through it. This is a tough time for so many of you. My life is relatively unchanged and that frees me up to assist you. If you are having particular issues and would like to talk to someone, drop me an email and let’s see if we can set up a time to talk on the phone. And if you know someone who would benefit from my message, please share this content with them.

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

References:

Am I Allergic to Quail Eggs

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You Can Make Your Own Cheese – Part 2

You Can Make Your Own Cheese – Part 2. In the last podcast, I introduced this idea of making your own cheese and talked about what you would need regarding equipment including pots and vats, milk storage, forms and molds, supplies such as cheesecloth and mats, weights and presses and miscellaneous tools like measuring cups and cheese waxing setups. I’ll leave a link in the show notes so you can check that episode out if you haven’t heard it yet. Today’s episode completes the topic.

As always, welcome new listeners and welcome back veteran homestead-loving regulars. Thank you for stopping by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week. There’s a lot.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • You Can Make Your Own Cheese – Part 2
  • Lemon Cheese

Homestead Life Updates

Cows

At the top of the list of homestead updates is a bit of bad news and some good news. Last time we were together I talked about Claire getting closer and closer to her due date which is the end of March. Unfortunately, Violet came up first. And I say unfortunately because she spontaneously aborted more than a month before her due date. We lost that calf. It always saddens me when nature deals us harsh reality. But there is good news also. Violet is okay. She was treated for a uterine infection and will recover without issue as far as we know. She is in milk and that’s a very great thing. I have been missing milk for quite a while. I’m sure my herd share customers are missing it also. Cheesemaking will ramp up once we have a few more calves born and more milk in the tank.

One other side note. This morning when we milked her, Violet had very little milk. We have surmised that Cloud’s little Luna is double dipping. We separated Luna and Cloud from the rest of the herd and put Butter in with them so they have lots of companionship. The expectation is that Violet’s milk production will be up to speed this evening. We still won’t have milk right away as, when we have a great need to use antibiotics and other medications, there is a period of time when the milk is not acceptable for human consumption. But soon. Very soon. We will have milk.

Sheep and Goats

The neighbor called a few days ago to let us know that the sheep were out on the road. Sigh . . . a gate left open again. It happens. Thank goodness the goats didn’t follow their lead. The goats are much harder to get back inside the fence. In other sheep news, we had an unexpected birth a few weeks ago. That mishap came about because about 6 months ago, we were moving the various groups of animals from one place to another and somehow one of the rams ended up with the ewes. We discovered it about two weeks later and rectified the situation. However, we thought it likely that at least one or more would have come into heat during that two weeks’ time. I’m surprised it was only one unauthorized breeding. The rest of the flock is still on schedule to begin delivering the first week of May.

Yesterday we rounded up all of the goat and sheep girls for a health check. Basically, we were looking for signs of worms. Both sheep and goats can be devastated by a type of worm that literally sucks the blood out of them. We keep an eye on this and breed for resistance to these worms. We even planned on doing a prophylactic dose of worming. When their hormones begin ramping up as they approach birthing and when the weather becomes warmer, the worms take off and can take over so we watch closely. They. Looked. Great.

We did not worm any of them. I take that back. We wormed the new baby as a precaution. They simply cannot tolerate the worms and will be gone in a matter of days if infected. Worming is a necessary intervention in caring for these animals. Back in 2010 and 2011, we lost a lot of lambs. We altered our grazing practices and surrendered to the need for chemical intervention at times. After we got the hang of it, we have only had to worm once a year if at all. Some years – this year as an example – they may not be wormed at all. Though we do still check on them from time to time throughout the summer season. Especially, the lambs. Again, they are particularly vulnerable.

The Quail

Quail still not laying. I don’t have much to say about that. I keep telling them that if they don’t start laying, they are going to end up in the instant pot. It’s an empty threat and evidently they know it as they are not responding.

The Creamery

Scott is off getting one of our portable milkers serviced. We are completely replacing the hoses. It’s a regular maintenance task for ensuring we get the cleanest milk possible. Milk calcium builds up in the hoses and can harbor bacteria. So, the hoses are completely replaced at regular intervals.

Because he is off on this task, Scott is not working on the creamery today. But he has done so much recently. All of the doors and windows are hung. He even created these really great window sills. Go to our farm page on Facebook and look at the pictures. They are an original creation and so awesome. The door handles and locks come next. But maybe not.

The milking parlor and barn portion of the building still need a roof. This roof will be really tall and supported by giant posts similar to a pole barn. Fresh air will circulate freely. I love the openness of this design.

We are starting into the 4th year of putting this building together. It is a long journey, but well worth the effort. And I want to mention to those of you listening and dreaming of your own homestead, just keep taking small steps. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. The dream lives in your mind and each step you take brings a little bit more of it into reality. We bought this property as a bare piece of land in September 2003. We were weekend homesteaders until December 2016. We had the advantage of savoring every small accomplishment. There is something to be said for learning and growing at a slower pace, gradually building the skills necessary for success. For us it was the way forward to realizing our lifelong dream.

Now let’s get to the topic of the day. Finishing up the discussion on what steps are needed to successfully make your own cheese at home.

You Can Make Your Own Cheese – Part 2

As I said earlier, I gave you the basics of physical stuff you will need. Now we need to talk about what the space looks like in which you will use this stuff. And how do you properly clean everything. Cleanliness is of the utmost importance when making cheese. The cheesemaking process is one of biological reactions. You will want to ensure that only those cultures, bacteria, viruses and molds you choose end up in your cheese.

Creating Your Cheesemaking Space

For most of you, this is going to be your family kitchen. Here are some things to take into consideration for your cheesemaking area:

  • Storage space for pots, forms, press
  • Adequate counter space
  • A hot-water source for warming milk and for cleanup
  • A place to hang or set draining cheeses
  • An area away from pets, dust sources, stored chemicals, and cleaning products
  • Proper ambient room temperature
  • A place to store cultures and coagulants properly
  • An aging fridge located where it is convenient to check daily

Let’s cover them one-by-one.

Storage Space

You will need a good size storage space for several large stainless-steel pots, your cheese forms and/or molds, and miscellaneous equipment, such as ladles, spoons, and probably at least one countertop cheese press. Choose a location that doesn’t share space with any cleaning products, chemicals, pet or animal products (including brushes and medications), human medications, compost or trash bins, or any other product or equipment that could dirty or contaminate your equipment. I have a dedicated space to all things cheese. I even duplicated some pieces of equipment I use for normal, day-to-day cooking activities. It makes my cleaning and sanitation steps easier and more effective.

Adequate Counter Space

This seems like an easy one, but unless you happen to have an oversize and underused kitchen, counter space is probably at a premium in your household. You may think that it will be easy to clear space on the days you make cheese, and this may be your only option, but remember that you may be occupying that space for a day or more. How will that effect family meals? Can you keep the space sanitary? Is there a way to protect the space from the splashing of dish water or splatters from cooking pots and pans during your cheesemaking time?

Hot-Water Source

You will most likely be warming your cheese using hot water, usually in a double-boiler-type set up on your stovetop or in a sink. Personally, I use the sink but your stove top or a hotplate are just as useful. I confiscate all access to the sink for the period of time I will be “cooking” the cheese. Some cheese requires temperatures over 100°F and the hot water from the sink may not reach adequate temperatures. That’s when you will need that stovetop or hotplate double-boiler set up. Standard water heaters top out at about 118°F. Also, be aware that if you are using the same sink for cleaning equipment, you could run into some problems when trying to keep wash water out of your cheese pot. I deal with this all the time. I’m extra careful and use a lid on the cheese pot. That frees my second sink for cleaning up or at least rinsing the visible milk from measuring cups and utensils.

Draining Space

You will need a space to hang draining curd and a place to set cheeses that drain in forms or in a press. Small amounts of curd can be bag-drained by suspending the bag from a utensil that is placed across the top of a tall pot. Larger volumes, though, might need something such as a quality hook mounted under a cabinet. Often, I use the door handles on my cabinet to hang my cheese. I place a bowl under the bag to catch the whey. Maybe some day I’ll get that mounted hook. But then again, I have much more freedom with how high I can raise the cheese for draining. I’m not limited to the hook under the cabinet.

For draining cheeses in forms, you will need a surface with either a slight slope that drains to a sink or container or a level perforated or grooved surface to collect and divert draining whey. If your cheeses don’t need any weights for pressing, a sloped surface, such as a dish rack drain board, works great—but if you will be stacking forms or adding weights to the top, a surface with too much slope will cause the stacked forms to tip and most likely topple over.

My preferred method is a cooling rack over a ½ baker’s sheet. This works fine for lighter weight forms but will not support too much weight without collapsing the racks. To use the same system, but with more weight, place a large plastic cutting board over the rack then put a cheese mat on top of that to wick the whey away from the form or mold.

Pets, Dust Sources, Stored Chemicals, and Cleaning Products

I mentioned before to be sure that you store your equipment away from hazards such as cleaning products and medications, but you will also want to limit access to your working space by pets and other critters.

Think about things like windows that open to animal pens or dusty driveways. If these are in your workspace, do your best to keep them closed during cheesemaking time even a window that opens to a lovely forest will allow mold spores to enter the milk. And while they may not cause health issues, they will cause flavor flaws and more. Remember, it is essential that you control what microscopic flavoring goes into your cheese.

Since your workspace will likely be in the family kitchen, be aware of natural hazards that will exist when a space is shared with products such as drain opener, oven cleaner, and so on. What are other household members doing during the time your cheesemaking is in progress? Even if cleaners are completely organic, secure from unintentional contact during cheesemaking.

Room Temperature

The ideal temperature during the making and draining is 70 to 72°F. Ideally, your space will be climate controlled. Not usually a problem if you are in the US. Other countries are not so liberal in their use of air conditioning and you will need to take this into consideration when making cheese.

Storage for Cultures and Coagulants

You will be using freeze-dried direct-set cultures for your cheeses. These are the most convenient and reliable. These types of cultures will be best stored in the freezer. Rennet or other coagulants are stored in the refrigerator. There is no concern over storing this alongside your bottles of catchup and mayo. Sharing the family fridge is not a problem.

Cheese Aging-Unit Location

If you will be aging cheeses (and almost every cheesemaker will eventually give it a try), you will have an aging unit. We started off with a wine storage fridge. Try to find a convenient location that is in sight daily and easily accessed.

That about covers your space needs. Now on to cleanliness.

Keep Things Clean

When you are making cheese for yourself or to share, you’ll want to create an excellent product. Better than anything you could get at the grocery. And no matter how well you can make a recipe, if your equipment isn’t clean, your cheese will be tainted as well. That’s why I am devoting an entire segment to this topic.

Chemicals and Their Proper Use

While you might associate the term chemical with something man-made and harmful, let’s remember that everything in life is made up of chemical compounds. Even so-called natural cleaners are composed of chemicals, but more than likely they are naturally occurring compounds. Remember that naturally occurring chemicals can still be harmful. Keep safety in mind at all times.

Cleaning and sanitizing products work very well to remove residues from surfaces. They accomplish this task via their harsh and caustic characteristics. It is not something you want on your skin, in your eyes, or in your lungs. Have you read the warning on the labels lately? Do you have good air circulation and ventilation? Gloves and goggles are a plus. Your prescription glasses can work in place of goggles but beware of ruining the special coatings on the lenses. Go with the goggles if you splash a lot.

There are basically three categories of chemicals that are needed for proper cleaning of your cheese space and equipment: detergents for cleaning, sanitizers for sanitizing, and acids for removing calcium deposits and sanitizing. Sometimes these three basic categories are combined in one product or another. Therefore, overlap in their usage can be confusing. For example, chlorine, a commonly used and readily available sanitizer, is often also combined with detergent, as it has the ability to help with removal of proteins during cleaning. And acids can also be used to sanitize. I’ll provide some steps later that can help clarify some of this.

Detergents

When it comes to cleaning, detergents are quite dependent on water temperature, pH, and mechanical action. In other words, you will need hot-water and physical exertion to do the job. Detergents by nature are alkaline with a pH above 7.0.  you can buy fancy “dairy detergent” that has chlorine in it, but for most home situations, a name brand or store brand detergent works just fine; in fact, it’s what I use. Unscented is best but sometimes harder to find.

Sanitizers

Sanitizers are used to eliminate any bacteria that scrubbing and washing might not have removed. But the thorough cleaning must come first. There is an old saying: “you can’t sanitize something that isn’t clean.” Sanitizing can be done with chemicals, both those that break down into very environmentally friendly, components and those that don’t, or by using heat.

The most readily available sanitizer to use at home is chlorine. Chlorine, in the form of grocery store bleach, is very effective, easy to find, and inexpensive. Quite often, however, people use too much, leading to sanitizer residue on equipment (which can harm your cheese and produce undesirable flavors). Other issues include corrosion stainless steel and other metal surfaces and harm to septic and wastewater systems.

You may need as little as ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon per gallon of water to reach the ideal of 50 – 100 ppm. There is an inexpensive chlorine dilution test strip that can be ordered online. Using these strips periodically will guarantee that the proper amount of sanitizer is being used. Chlorine can lose its effectiveness over time, or you might be using a more concentrated solution. Measure for consistent results.

Use a sanitizer solution on equipment just before use; with cheese brushes soak them and then air-dry before use. When it is mixed properly, you do not need to rinse a chlorine solution with plain water. A cloth dipped in the mix solution can be used to wipe down surfaces and other areas that come in contact with your equipment.

Acid Rinses

Acid, at the right strength, plays two roles. First as a solvent of mineral deposits and second as a residual sanitizer. It need only be used periodically to prevent the buildup of what is commonly called milkstone. Milkstone builds up slowly as the minerals in milk are steadily deposited on surfaces. While most are rinsed away during cleaning, they are not all dissolved by the alkaline detergents and will eventually form a residue on all surfaces, including plastic and stainless steel. The goal is to remove the minerals before you see the buildup by rinsing regularly with a strong acid solution. (If you are a coffee drinker, you might have periodically run a vinegar solution through your coffee maker for the same purpose.)

The strength of the acid and the frequency of the rinse will depend on the amount of use your equipment receives, as well as the hardness of your water. Hard water has a higher mineral content and will contribute to the buildup. With softer water and minimal use, you may be able to use white vinegar for your rinse. If this is not sufficient, you will want to use an acid cleaner approved for use on stainless steel and any other material that you are cleaning.

Brushes and Scrubbers

You can use pretty much any kind of scrub brush and scrubber. Sponges are not recommended. They are perfect habitats for bacteria. If you are using a green scrub pad, watch for it to leave little green “hairs” on forms and equipment. This isn’t a food safety issue, but it isn’t pleasant to find them in your cheese.

The Six Steps to Sparkling Clean

A good cleaning regimen consists of at least four steps: rinse, wash, acid rinse, and pre-sanitize. While these steps need not be as laborious for you at home, they are still important for creating the best possible cheese. The following procedures are fairly typical for most situations.

Step 1: Prerinse

Immediately after using, rinse all equipment with lukewarm water, about 100°F, to remove visible milk and curd residues. This step is important to do before washing so the heat of the wash water doesn’t “cook” proteins onto the surface.

Step 2: Wash

Use very hot water and your detergent product to clean all services. Use a clean bristle brush and scrub pads to scour the services of all utensils and equipment.

Step 3: Rinse

Rinse with clean water. If using the periodic sanitizing acid rinse, you may use it at this stage.

Step 4: Air-Dry

Allow all equipment to air-dry between uses

Step 5: Sanitize

Just prior to use, sanitize all equipment by dipping in a food-surface-approved sanitizer (which includes chlorine as I talked about earlier). Sanitizers need 30 seconds of exposure to ensure proper killing of any residual germs.

Step 6: Acid Wash/Rinse

An acid wash is done on a periodic basis to remove mineral deposits that are not completely removed during the daily cleaning process. Some acid wash products include cleaners to help with this step. An acid rinse without cleaners can be done on a daily basis instead of the stronger, periodic acid wash. If you choose to do a daily acid rinse, you can perform it either just following or in place of step three (rinse). If you are doing periodic acid washes, the frequency will depend on the amount of calcium and other minerals in your water as well as the frequency of use for cheesemaking. Observe your equipment, especially when it is dry. Look for hazes and colors that might indicate the need for stronger cleaning (both through scrubbing by hand and with chemicals).

Note: Automatic Dishwashers

As an alternate to handwashing, you can effectively clean equipment by using an automatic dishwasher. Pick up with step three to complete your cleaning process. Rinse with clean water or acid sanitizing rinse, air dry, sanitize just prior to use.

Now on to today’s recipe.

Lemon Cheese

I’m going to reprise a recipe I did last year for Lemon Cheese. I think it is appropriate now that you have all the steps in place for making your own cheese at home.

Lemon cheese is a very simple fresh cheese that you can easily make in your kitchen. It is a moist spreadable cheese with a hint of lemon taste.

If you make it in the evening, this rich and delicious cheese will be ready to spread on hot biscuits, toast, muffins, bagels or croissants for breakfast in the morning!

ngredients

  • 1 gallon milk do not use ultra-pasteurized, it will not set up.
  • 2 large lemons or 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Warm milk to 165 F, stirring often to prevent scorching.
  2. Add lemon juice. Stir and set aside for 15 minutes. The warm milk will separate into a stringy curd and a greenish liquid whey. It should be clear, not milky.
  3. Line a colander with butter muslin. Pour the curds and whey into the colander. Tie the corners of the cheesecloth into a knot and hang the bag of curds to drain. After an hour, check for the desired consistency. Think cream cheese.
  4. Remove the cheese from the cloth and place it in a bowl. Add salt to taste, usually 1/4 tsp. You may mix in herbs. Fresh dill comes to mind.
  5. Place cheese in a covered container and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for a week, perhaps a little more.

Notes

  1. You may go up to 190 F to help your milk coagulate.
  2. You may add more lemon juice if your milk doesn’t coagulate.

Your homemade cheese is a success!!

Final Thoughts

That’s it for today’s podcast. I hope you enjoyed the homestead updates. And if you are a herd share owner, well I guess you know that fresh milk and yogurt is coming soon. We’ll keep you updated on when and where to pick up.

Remember that there is a transcript of this podcast and the previous podcast available on our website. I am also working on a pdf version that will be available for download for your use in reviewing these steps and getting your home cheesemaking setup and procedures in order.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Also, please share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

References:

You Can Make Your Own Cheese – Part 1

Recipe Link

Lemon Cheese

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You Can Make Your Own Cheese – Part 1

You can make your own cheese just as well as anyone. A few years ago, I offered a piece of my cheese for tasting to a coworker. Her response was, “cheese can be made?” I’m not sure what she thought about how cheese got to the grocery store. I regret not asking her though I was sensitive to not making her feel uncomfortable about not knowing how cheese is produced. I’ve heard kids sometimes think their food simply comes in cans and boxes. Meat appears in the cooler section by magic. There is no concept of plants and animals as the origination point. Lots of people today have no connection to their food. Since you are listening to this podcast, I’m going to assume you are not one of them. I’m thinking you are very interested in the answers to the question, “from where does my food originate?”

I’ve spoken before about the basis of cheesemaking and today I want to talk about the basics of the equipment and setup you need to be able to make your own cheese at home. Every part is very important and not that expensive. Much of it involves using what you may already have in your kitchen. 

I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • You Can Make Your Own Cheese – Part I
  • Greek Meatballs and Yogurt-Mint Sauce

Homestead Life Updates

Creamery

The roof of the creamery is on and dried in. The floors are swept clean and look wonderful. It’s a little dark in there. The doors and windows we purchased last year have been kept under a tarp. They are now inside and safe from the weather. According to Scott, that is the next step, getting all the doors and windows in place. He’s putting the wood frames into the concrete blocks right now.

Cows

The birthing events draw ever nearer each day. Less than two months remain before Claire is scheduled to give birth to a beautiful purebred Normande calf. All is going well with no issues to report.

Sheep, Goats, and Donkeys

The sheep, goats, and donkeys are doing well. They are eating hay and eating hay and eating hay. That’s what they do in the winter.

Quail

Same for the quail. They are eating their 24% protein chick feed ration and huddling together to stay warm. They look great!! Game birds need a higher protein ratio than domestic chickens. Can’t wait until the quail start laying eggs again and we can start hatching out the cute little quail chicks.

Let’s talk cheese.

You Can Make Your Own Cheese

I’m sure many of you want to develop new cooking skills and you can make your own cheese. It does take practice and you may even need to attend a hands-on cheesemaking workshop, but cheesemaking can absolutely happen in your home kitchen. You’ll need some equipment, a cheesemaking space, and sanitation procedures. Having a proper space with the right equipment and knowing how to keep the space and tools properly cleaned and maintained goes a long way to making it fun and successful. You will want cleanable, easily maintained equipment and surfaces that pose no risk when used to manufacture food for human consumption. So, let’s take a look at all of those issues and help you get set up to make cheese! Because there is so much information, this will be two podcasts. This one will cover all the equipment. The next will be about setting up your space and the cleaning requirements and methods.

Choosing Equipment

First, I’ll go over how to choose the things you will need and want to have on hand for cheesemaking. Some are optional, especially at first, depending on the cheese you want to make. And due to the popularity of home cheesemaking, you can often find local stores carrying many cheesemaking supplies as well. I’ll put a link in the show notes for one of my favorite resources, New England cheesemaking. Their website is cheesemaking.com.

Pots and Vats

The primary considerations when choosing the proper receptacle to make your cheese is the material and condition. Whether you make your cheese in a 1-gallon pan on the stove or in a steam jacketed cheese vat, your receptacle is best if made of high-quality stainless steel. You may or may not know this, but stainless steel comes in varying grades. The cheaper it is, the less likely it will hold up well over time. You may even find that it will rust in spots.

For home use stainless steel pots with stainless or tempered glass lids—a type of glass that is fine in high heat situations—can be used. Just be aware that glass can break and ruin a batch of cheese. A coated or enameled surface is also fine for home use, as long as you inspect it before and, even more importantly, after use. If you notice a chip missing from your enameled pot when you’re done making cheese, you should suspect that it is in your cheese. That cheese will need to be thrown away.

In any case, the surface must be easily cleaned. So, any deep scratches or rivets on the inside, the surface, or in nooks are undesirable. In the commercial world they are not allowed.

The next factor for you to consider in choosing your pot will be size. The most common at-home cheese vat is a double-boiler-type set up of a pot set in a sink of warm water or inside a larger pot of water on the stove top. Personally, I have a 12-quart stainless steel pot and a 24-quart stainless steel pot that I use in my kitchen sink. The smaller pot I use to make a one- or 2-gallon cheese in the larger pot I used to make cheese with 4 to 5 gallons of milk. If you choose to use your stovetop, look for a large stainless-steel pot and an enamel or stainless-steel water bath canner. Walmart carries these products as well as canning supply retailers. For the stovetop, you will need a mechanism to keep the inner pot containing the milk off of the bottom of the pot with the heated water. This allows water to circulate underneath your pot of milk. You can use a wire cooling rack or even just a few Mason jar lid rings at the bottom of the canner the rings will rust, but if the water bath pot is not also used for cooking, it is a problem. In general, all of my cheesemaking supplies are used only for cheesemaking.

One other option I will mention is using your slow cooker. I’ve never used mine to make cheese, but I’m pretty sure it would work. A half-gallon to 1 gallon of milk would be the limitation there for me. Speaking of which, I have used my Cosori instant pot to make queso fresco. That cheese is so simple it requires nothing more than the stainless-steel instant pot and a slotted spoon. Check out my website for that recipe. I’ll put a link in the show notes.

Milk Storage Containers

You can skip this section if you are making cheese with milk your purchased from the grocery. Yes, you can use store-bought milk. As long as it is not ultra-pasteurized. Whole, pasteurized milk purchased from the grocery store will make a decent cheese. Obviously, it’s not the same as making it with raw milk from your own cow or from raw milk you obtained via the rules in your state. And there are a few differences in ingredients and amounts of culture, but pasteurized milk will make any cheese your heart desires.

If you are collecting your own milk or buying it from your neighbor, there is a good chance that you will store it for at least one day. We use stainless steel cans with tight-fitting lids but these are expensive. Our 2 ½ gallon stainless steel milk cans were at least $60 each plus shipping. Mason jars are a great option here. We use the ½ gallon size. I also have a bunch of 1 gallon jars. Less jars to empty and clean but harder to find. Just keep in mind that if you find a chip in the glass, it’s likely in the milk. Keep the milk very cold and use it within one day. If you wait longer, the naturally occurring enzymes and bacteria will overpopulate and overrun the cultures you add. You will get cheese, but who knows what it will be.

Forms, Hoops, and Molds

These items usually need to be purchased. It’s one of a few things that is worth the investment. In all honesty, you are probably going to spend more money on cheese forms than you need to. It is pretty much impossible to know early on what types of cheese you will end up making the most, what size wheels you will be happiest with, and how many forms you really need. Don’t get too stressed about it. You may even be able to craft your own. The main thing to remember is that they must be made of some kind of material that is easily cleaned and not negatively affected by the acid produced by the draining cheese—so no aluminum or copper. As an aside, the terms “hoop,” “form,” and “mold” are pretty much interchangeable.

As long as they are easy to clean and made of food grade material, you can come up with some pretty creative options, such as plastic colanders, salad spinner bowls, or even food storage bowls with drainage holes drilled in the sides. Some people even use large diameter PVC pipe or plumbing piping for cold water lines as cheese forms.

Keep in mind the ruggedness of the form if you will be applying weight during draining. The less pressure that is used, the more options you have when selecting forms. If you’re making a cheese that requires a great deal of pressure, such as cheddar, you will need a very sturdy, straight sided form or a curve sided form designed to take the pressure exerted by a mechanical press. More on presses later.

When shopping for forms made specifically for draining cheeses, you will have many choices. You will likely end up with some that you only use once or twice, and maybe you can even give those away to another cheese maker who is in the early experimentation phase. The plastic forms come in four basic types: those meant to be used with cheesecloth and pressure; basket type forms for ladled, unpressed curd; micro perforated forms with many tiny holes to simulate the effect of cheesecloth; and Kadova type forms that had a built in mesh lining. The Kadova and micro perforated forms are notorious for being difficult to clean. But they also eliminate the need for cheesecloth and cleaning involved with its use.

Cheesecloth, Draining Bags, Mats

Cheesecloth serves two purposes during draining: first, it helps keep the loose curd in a shape while it knits back together, and second, it helps wick whey away from the cheese and toward drainage holes in the form. It is important to choose the right fabric to properly drain the type of cheese you are making. In general, you can apply the following policy: the finer and softer the curd, the tighter the weave of the cloth should be. The fabric sold in most kitchen and department stores that is labeled as cheesecloth has a very open, gauze like mesh and is not suitable for draining cheeses. Instead, you will want to buy real cheesecloth from a cheesemaking supply company.

Draining bags are designed specifically for making soft, spreadable cheeses. They have a very fine weave and are sturdily manufactured. A great substitute is a white pillowcase, which you will, of course, clean and sanitize before using. If you have any sewing skills and the right equipment, you can sew your own draining bags.

Draining mats can be used directly under cheeses such as brie and Camembert during draining and aging, under forms during draining (to help keep the form itself up out of the draining way), and under hard cheese during aging (to promote airflow around the cheese).

Many people use plastic needlepoint matting as a substitute. It looks almost the same and works as well. It is low in cost and is usually available for purchase locally (rather than having to be ordered, like the “official” cheese matting). Reed mats, such as those designed to make sushi rolls, can also be a good choice.

Weights and Presses

Creativity is the name of the game here. Some cheese will require a specific press, but most can be improvised. The options are almost limitless when setting up a way to lightly press cheeses—from stackable cheese forms and jugs of water or sand to barbell weights. I’ve used them all. Keep the following things in mind when designing your pressing system: stability—will the weight shift and come crashing down when you are not observing the pressing? And cleanability—are the weights cleanable and contained so they don’t leak or leech any nonfood substances or chemicals in your cheese?

If you find you must move up to a mechanical press, you have two basic options, then multiple choices within those options; a single wheel screw type press or lever press. Your choice will likely revolve around the number of wheels you plan on pressing at the same time. Small single wheel presses that can press 3 to 4-pound wheels can be expensive, and it will be quite time-consuming to have more than one or two wheels that you need to remove from the press, redress, and turn.

When choosing a single screw type press, look for durability, cleanability, and pressure scale. The most expensive are made from all-stainless-steel parts—and of course, these are the most cleanable and durable. Some single presses are made from wood and laminate parts.

Finally, the lever press, also called a Dutch or Holland lever press, because of its long history of manufacture and use in that country. Lever presses designed for home use are usually made of a hard wood such as maple. It is important that they not be made of a softer wood, as the lever arm from which weights will be hung can crack if it is not sturdy enough. Lever presses can be freestanding or attached to a wall. You can purchase a premade kit for single wheel versions of those presses and find plans online. I used to have one of these mounted on the wall. Scott made it for me. Alas, I’ve taken it down and I don’t think I have any pictures. It was my main press when I was making 3 to 5-gallon cheeses. It was simply a long stick of wood that would fold up and out of the way and then fold down when I needed to use it. My weights were 1 gallon and half gallon plastic milk jugs. I put them on the scale and added as much water as I needed to reach a specific weight. I believe I had a 2-pound, a 4-pound, and 8-pound weight. They each had a small piece of rope tied to the handle which I could loop over the arm of the lever press.

Miscellaneous Tools

You will need quite an assortment of miscellaneous tools, such as ladles, curd cutting knife, measuring cups, measuring syringe, colander, thermometer, timer or clock, a scale for weighing curd, and brine “tank.” If you are also waxing cheeses, that will require equipment as well.

A perforated cheese ladle can be either purchased or modified from a long handled, slotted stainless steel skimmer. The ladle is used to gently stir the curds, and the perforations allow for the whey to flow through the spoon, as well as to help disperse coagulant and calcium chloride when being added to the cheese milk.

A curd knife is used to cut the coagulated milk into curds. Again, you can purchase one or use a long, narrow spatula; a frosting spreader; or even a thin piece of stainless steel.

There are some small-scale cheese “harps” on the market, but beware of blades that are too thick or spaced too widely—once you make large cubes, is a bit more difficult to cut them smaller evenly, as they are now moving in the vat as you try to cut them. A small-scale harp can be fabricated by creating a stainless frame that is strung with nylon fishing line. While it is not necessary to invest in such a harp, it will give you the advantage of nearly perfect cubes of curd. When a harp is turned it around about, it cuts concentric circles that must then be cut vertically. Leaving you with more of a pie shaped curd than a square one.

For measuring liquid, you will need a variety of measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a couple of plastic syringes in 5 cc, 3 ml, and 1 ml sizes. A cubic centimeter (CC) is the same as a milliliter. If you have a nice little set of syringes, you will be able to make super accurate measurements of coagulant and calcium chloride.

For measuring dry powders, such as cultures, accurately weighing and dividing into unit doses is always the best choice but is often not practical for home cheesemaking. For measuring really tiny doses of mold and ripening cultures, you can purchase a set of tiny measuring spoons that will help measure amounts from just under a quarter teaspoon (1 mL) down to 1/60 teaspoon (0.05 mL).

It is a good idea to have a plastic or stainless-steel colander for holding draining bags while filling, draining curd, and other surprisingly handy uses. Don’t use aluminum strainers, as the metal will react with the acid in the whey and cheese.

You don’t need a fancy thermometer for making cheese, but you’d do need to make certain it is accurate. You can use the simple, metal probe thermometers you can get for a few dollars at the grocery store. Using a piece of stainless-steel wire, you can fashion a nifty little hanger so the thermometer stays suspended and you can still close the lid on your vat.

A clock or timer should be available for monitoring times during your cheese makes. Your cell phone probably has a timer on it.

If you are brining cheeses—and you will be—you will need a container large enough to float all the wheels in a batch (or you can use multiple containers). Brine should be stored at either aging room temperature of 50 to 55°F or in the refrigerator between use.

If you’ll be waxing cheeses for aging, plan on a double boiler, pan, or dedicated crockpot that is used only for this purpose. The wax pretty much takes forever on all utensils. A variety of natural bristle brushes will also be needed for waxing.

I’m going to stop here for this podcast. In the next one I will finish up this topic covering “creating a cheesemaking space” and “keeping things clean”. Once you have those topics under your belt, you’ll be set to make the best cheese right in your own home.

It’s time for today’s recipe.

Greek Meatballs with Yogurt-Mint Sauce

Slow-simmered in a rich tomato sauce and served over rice with a tangy yogurt sauce and crumbled feta. Yum, yum.

What You Need

Meatballs

  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 4 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup olives, chopped (green, black or mixed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Olive oil for browning meatballs

Tomato Sauce

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin, ground
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Yogurt-Mint Sauce

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Garnish

  • Feta, crumbled
  • Fresh herbs (mint and oregano)

What To Do

Meatballs

  1. Combine meatball ingredients in large mixing bowl. Form meatballs.
  2. Heat a large pot on medium heat. Add oil to coat the bottom. Add half the meatballs, keeping space between them.
  3. Brown well on one side and flip to brown the other side. Roll to sides and brown.
  4. When nicely browned, put on a plate and repeat with remaining meatballs. Put on plate.

Tomato Sauce

  1. Add crushed tomatoes, garlic and cumin to pan. Scrape bottom and combine well. Add meatballs, season with salt and pepper, bring to a simmer. Turn down to low.
  2. Cook for about an hour with lid slightly open. Scrape bottom occasionally to prevent burning.
  3. Meatballs are done when tomato sauce thickens.

Serve with Mint Sauce and Feta Over Rice

  1. Prepare rice of your choice. Combine the yogurt sauce ingredients.
  2. Spoon yogurt sauce on top of meatballs and crumble feta over it.
  3. Garnish with fresh herbs and olive oil.

Final Thoughts

That’s it for today’s Peaceful Heart FarmCast. I hope you are enjoying your winter wherever you are in the world. Well, I guess if you are south of the equator it is summer. If you are south of the equator, I hope you are enjoying your summer. The winter blues are coming on me in small amounts at the moment. No where near the levels of past winters and for that I am grateful. If it wasn’t raining would go out and watch a few animals grazing peacefully. That can cheer me up any time.

If I had milk, I could make cheese and that can cheer you up as well. I hope this introduction to setting up your own kitchen for cheesemaking is helpful. It really can be done. When I have completed the second half, there will be a written transcript of the two podcasts on my website. I’ll make a downloadable pdf version that you can print and study.

Those Greek meatballs are fabulous. Give it a try and let me know your variations and improvements. We have ground lamb available for purchase at the farmer’s market in Wytheville, 2nd and 4th Saturdays and at the farm Tuesday mornings 10am to 12pm or Saturday afternoon 3pm to 5pm.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Also, please share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

References:

Recipe Link

Greek Meatballs with Yogurt-Mint Sauce

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Nose to Tail Beef

Nose to tail beef is an important topic for those supporting local, sustainable, regenerative agriculture. I get lots of questions on it. Buying a large quantity of beef can be a daunting prospect. Sure, you know it’s going to help your local farmer. And you know your local farmer is working hard for you, the animals and the environment. But what do you do with all that meat? What are the different cuts and what makes them different? How does a side of beef get broken down? What should you expect? Nose to tail beef is what this episode is all about.

Let me take a minute and say welcome to new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • Nose to Tail Beef
  • Moroccan Seasoned Meatballs

Homestead Life Updates

Creamery

You will not believe how quickly that roof is going up. After months and months and months of concrete blocks, in just a few weeks, Scott has those blocks nearly covered with a roof. He tells me once the decking is complete—within the week, he will be starting on the other roof over the barn and milking parlor. That needs to be completed to the same point before putting on the metal roofing. I love going out there and strolling around in the rooms, imagining when it will be complete.

Animals

Winter is coming upon us and it is cold today and will be even colder in the coming days. The animals are all healthy and ready for it. Thick winter coats cover all of them. Thunder had a cut on his cheek that he got from who knows where. It is healing nicely, though it looked quite scary when I first saw it. Blood was running down the side of his head and there was this huge puckered gash in his jaw. But again, he is healing just fine. The girls are grazing calmly each day and growing their calves. The first expected birthing of a calf will be Claire on the 31st of March and Buttercup right behind her about three days later.

The donkeys, sheep and goats are also grazing along. I was outside yesterday taking a tour of the creamery and saw that one of the goat does was in the pasture adjacent to everyone else. She will find her way back to the rest of the herd whenever she feels the urge. Goats are just gonna be goats.

Still no quail eggs. They don’t eat much so I guess it’s okay. I can’t wait until spring and I start hatching out eggs again. The quail are just fun.

The boys are all still peacefully grazing out front. There are five of them that will eventually make their way to freezer camp. And that brings me to today’s topic.

Nose to Tail Beef

Nose to tail beef is an important topic to understand when purchasing from your local farmer. Often beef is offered to you in quantities such as quarters and halves. Perhaps you will even purchase a whole beef and share the costs with family and friends. I’ll get to the various cuts often offered in one of these large purchases, including the organ and variety meats.

I want to start with a brief history of beef in North America, some basic terminology, muscle composition, the structure of meat, aging, and inspection and grading. I’ll end with the various cuts available in beef and which part of the animal from which it is cut.

This may be a long podcast. And I think the information will be invaluable to you as you develop a relationship with your local farmer.

History of Beef in North America

People have been raising domesticated cattle for some 3,000 years. Christopher Columbus introduced domesticated cattle to the Americas in 1493, and soon after, cattle arrived in present-day Florida and Texas with the Spanish. Cattle have always had many uses: they carry heavy loads and pull carts and plows; supply milk, cheese, and butter; and provide a source for clothing, shelter, and food. Today, Americans prefer beef to all other meats.

As I noted, domesticated cattle first arrived in the Americas in 1493. By 1500 European cookbooks began to specify cuts of beef and other meats. During the period of the mid-1800s through 1900 cattle ranching in the United States reached its peak. In 1906 the meat inspection act was passed by Congress. Finally, beef surpassed pork as the most popular meat in 1950.

Terminology

Cattle is a general term for domesticated bovine animals raised on a farm or ranch for their meat, milk, or hides or for use as draft animals. Further delineation of cattle is characterized by sex and age.

Calves are young cattle of either sex. A male calf is known as a bull calf, and a female Is called a heifer calf.

Bulls are mature, un-castrated male cattle used for breeding.

Steers are male cattle that have been castrated before reaching sexual maturity, making them more docile and easier to maintain on a ranch or in a feedlot. Most beef that Americans eat comes from steers.

Staggs are male cattle that have undergone castration after they have matured.

Heifer calves grow into heifers and eventually become cows.

Cows are mature female cattle, and are usually used as a source of milk. They have to have given birth at least once to earn the title of cow.

Nutritional Make Up

Beef, like other meats, is animal muscle containing various nutrients that form part of a healthful diet.

Muscle Composition

The three main components of muscle are water, protein, and fat. These nutrients appear in the following proportions in most meats:

  • 75% water
  • 20% protein
  • 5% fat

Muscle also contains vitamins, minerals, and very small, trace amounts of carbohydrates.

Although most meats are about three-quarters water, the actual amount of water in meats varies depending on shrinkage. Shrinkage, or moisture loss, is the result of oxidation, which occurs during storage or aging or as a result of high temperatures and long cooking times. Oxidation causes meat to lose both water and weight.

Protein is an essential nutrient that promotes growth, builds tissue, regulates body functions, and serves as an alternative to fats and carbohydrates as a source of energy. Most solid matter in meat is protein. When heat is applied to meat, the protein coagulates, or becomes firm. The degree of coagulation is one gauge for doneness. High heat can cause protein to lose moisture and become too firm, making the meat tough.

Fat surrounds the muscle tissue as a fat and lies within it (marbling). The fat may be left on a piece of meat during cooking to keep the meat moist, but barding or larding are acceptable alternative methods for retaining juice if there is no fat. Marbling also contributes to the juiciness of meat and makes it more tender and flavorful.

Regarding vitamins and minerals, meat is an important source of vitamins A and K as well as several B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), B6, and B12. Meat also adds minerals such as iron and phosphorus to the diet.

Although carbohydrates are present only in very small amounts, they contribute to the appearance and flavor of meat that is prepared with a dry technique such as roasting, sautéing, or broiling.

Structure of Meat

Meat products consist of bones, muscle fibers, and connective tissue.

Bones: bone color is an indication of an animals age. The redder the bone, the younger the animal. Older animals have white bones. Becoming familiar with the bone structure of an animal helps when learning the different cuts of meat and how to debone them.

Muscle fibers: muscle fibers, or cells bundled together, make up the meat. The thickness of the fibers determines the texture or grain of the meat. Thick, tough fibers bound in large bundles make up coarsely textured meats, such as bottom round or brisket. Thinner, tender fibers in small bundles form finely grained meat, such as tenderloin.

Connective tissue: connective tissue is a web of proteins that perform several functions. It covers individual muscle fibers, bundles them together, and attaches them to bones. Connective tissue helps determine the texture of meat and is tough in general. Some meats are higher in connective tissue than others.

Frequently used muscles such as those in the leg or shoulder have more connective tissue and thus are tougher than those in the back (or loin). Meat from older animals is also tougher because as an animal ages, the connective tissue becomes more resistant to breaking down.

Elastin and collagen—the two kinds of connective tissue—differ in their ability to break down during the cooking process. Elastin is a hard, yellow connective tissue prevalent in older animals because it will not break down during cooking, elastin must be cut away from the meat or physically tenderized to reduce its effects.

By contrast, collagen, the soft, white connective tissue, really breaks down into water and gelatin with slow, moist cooking. Collagen also responds well to tenderizing.

Aging

Aging is the process by which naturally occurring enzymes (lactic acid) tenderize meat. After slaughter, chemical changes in the flesh of an animal cause rigor mortis, or a stiffening of the muscles. As rigor mortis disappears, the meat softens, or ripens, as a result of enzymatic action. This process takes up to several days for beef and must occur in a controlled, refrigerated environment so that the meat does not spoil. The result is flavorful, tender meat.

There are three methods of aging meat under refrigeration. Today I will discuss dry aging as this is the method used by small, independent meatpackers.

Dry aging involves hanging large, unpackaged cuts of meat in a controlled environment for two to six weeks. Temperature, humidity, and air flow must be carefully monitored to prevent spoilage. Two weeks is most common. Small, local meat processing facilities are limited by space and energy cost controls.

Although costly, dry aging produces extremely flavorful meat with a highly desirable texture. However, shrinkage is a major drawback of this method, with some cuts of meat losing as much as 20% of their weight through loss of moisture. Meat aged by this method also can develop mold, which requires trimming—a further reduction in weight.

Inspection and Grading

Inspection and grading systems help producers, distributors, and consumers like you evaluate meat.

Inspection—The Meat Inspection Act, passed in 1906, mandates the examination of all meat transported across state lines. This federal law guarantees that meat is wholesome and fit for consumption and that the animal for which it originated was not diseased; however, inspection is not a mark of quality.

USDA/FSIS—The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a public health agency within the United States department of agriculture (USDA), is responsible for conducting inspections. The FSIS checks meat to make sure that it is clean, safe, and properly packaged and labeled. Meat that satisfies inspection standards carries a USDA inspection stamp.

Grading—unlike inspection, grading is completely voluntary. Grading measures meat quality, allowing a comparison of meat quality grading indicates tenderness, juiciness, and flavor of the meat.

The USDA has eight quality grades that apply to beef.

  • Prime is the highest quality, most expensive, with abundant marbling because of the young age of animals and feed practices. It is extremely juicy and flavorful.
  • Choice is high-quality, very juicy and tender, in abundant supply, widely available to the public.
  • The select grade is acceptable quality. It is a good buy, generally lean with little marbling, and less juicy and tender.
  • Standard grade is lower quality. It is economical and lacking in marbling.
  • Commercial grade is low quality. It is produced from older animals is economical and lacking tenderness.
  • Utility, cutter, and canner are the lowest quality. This grade of meat is used primarily by canners and processors.

Kobe Beef

Up to now I have been speaking only of US beef grades. Now I will touch upon one other. Kobe Beef.

Cattle raised in Kobe, Japan, are the source of a special grade of beef that is rich in flavor, has abundant marbling, and is extraordinarily tender. Kobe beef comes from the Wagyu breed of cattle and meets rigorous production standards. Wagyu cattle are famous for the extensive marbling of their meat, but this quality characteristic is not entirely the result of genetics.

The daily routine and special diet of cattle raised for Kobe beef are quite unusual. The Wagyu cattle receive energizing massages with sake, the Japanese alcoholic rice beverage, and indulge in huge quantities of beer, making Kobe beef legendary and expensive.

By USDA standards Kobe beef would receive the highest yield and quality grades. It’s marbling and rareness in the marketplace actually put it well above the prime grade.

Once raised only in Kobe, Wagyu cattle now roam ranches in the United States and Australia, where land and feed are cheaper. Fabrication of the prized beef, however, takes place in Kobe, which earns it the name Kobe beef.

Primal, Subprimal, and Fabricated Cuts

Beef and other meats are available for purchase in various forms: carcasses; partial carcasses; and primal, subprimal, and fabricated cuts.

The carcass is the whole animal after slaughter, without head, feet, hide, and entrails. It is typical to split a beef carcass into halves and then to cut each half into a front portion or forequarter and a rear portion or hind quarter. A side or a quarter of beef represents a partial carcass. There are two front quarters, right and left. The front quarter starts at the neck and ends where the ribs end, about halfway down the back of the carcass. The rear quarters pick up from there. Again, there are two, right side of spine and left side of spine.

A primal cut is a large, primary piece of meat, sometimes called a wholesale cut. A subprimal cut is a basic cut made from a primal cut. A fabricated cut is the smaller portion taken from a subprimal cut, such as a roast, steak, and ground meat.

Beef Carcass Forequarter

Now think of the front quarter divided into four smaller pieces. From shoulder to mid back, there are four primal cuts that make up a forequarter of beef: Chuck (shoulder of the animal), primal rib (main rib section), brisket (breast and foreleg or shank), and short plate (directly below the ribs).

Those four primal cuts are broken down into subprimals and finally a fabricated cut.

Chuck

The chuck comes from the animal’s shoulder. It includes part of the backbone and the first five rib bones as well as portions of arm bones and blade bones. The chuck makes up nearly 30% of the weight of the beef carcass. A fairly large portion of the chuck is connective tissue, which accounts for the toughness of this meat. However, chuck has a great deal of flavor when properly prepared. A moist technique or combination method such as stewing or braising is appropriate for this cut. The primal chuck yields various fabricated cuts: shoulder roast, chuck roast, chuck short ribs, cubed or tenderized steaks, stew meat, and ground chuck.

Primal Rib

This primal cut comprises about 10% of the carcass weight. It includes ribs six through 12 and some of the backbone. As it is not well exercised muscle, it is tender, owing its rich flavor to extensive marbling. Primal rib cuts benefit from dry cooking methods such as roasting, broiling, and grilling. Moist heat is the preferred method for short ribs. Fabricated cuts taken from the primal rib include rib roast, boneless ribeye, short ribs, and ribeye steaks. Rib roast, better known as prime rib, is an extremely popular meat dish. The word “prime,” however, does not represent a USDA grade; rather, it indicates that the rib roast makes up most of the primal cut.

Brisket

Located below the chuck, the brisket constitutes a single primal cut. This cut consists of the breast (brisket) of the animal, including the rib bones and Cartledge, and the breastbone. A combination technique such as braising is an excellent choice for beef brisket, which is very tough. Curing, another method of preparation for brisket, is the method used to produce corned beef. Fabricated cuts from this primal cut include boneless brisket and ground meat.

Short Plate

Short plate is the cut below the primal rib on a side of beef. It contains rib bones and Cartledge and the tip of the breastbone. Fabricated cuts from the short plate include ground beef, skirt steak, and short ribs. Moist cooking is appropriate for short ribs, which are quite meaty but also contain a large amount of connective tissue. Marination and grilling are excellent methods for skirt steak, which is sliced for fajitas.

Foreshank

The foreshank is considered a byproduct of the beef forequarter and may be attached to the chuck when purchased. The rich flavor of the four shank and its abundant collagen, which turns to gelatin with moist heat, make it a choice ingredient in stocks and soups. Fabricated cuts include stew meat and ground beef.

Beef Hindquarter

A beef hindquarter also yields four primal cuts: short loin, sirloin, round, and flank. The short loin, sirloin, and round are the rest of the spine divided roughly into thirds. The fourth portion, the flank is directly below the short loin and sirloin. The round primal cut is very large as it is essentially the hind leg.

Short Loin

The short loin is the first primal cut of the hindquarter, forming the front portion of the beef loin. It includes one rib and part of the backbone the yield of this primal cut is substantial and represents the most palatable and popular, as well as the most expensive, cuts of beef. Among these is the tenderloin, the most tender piece of beef. Fabricated cuts from the short loin include T-bone steaks, NY strip steaks, and tenderloin. These cuts are best cooked using dried methods. Broiling, roasting, and grilling.

Sirloin

Located next to the short loin, the sirloin contains a portion of both the backbone and the hip bone. The subprimal and fabricated cuts taken from the sirloin have good flavor and are quite tender, though not as tender as the short loin cuts. Fabricated cuts from the sirloin include top sirloin roasts and steaks and top and bottom sirloin butt roasts and steaks. The dry techniques of broiling, roasting, and grilling are best for these cuts.

Round

The round is the hind leg of the animal, including the round, shank, and tail bones. It is an extremely large cut, constituting approximately 24% of the carcass weight. Very flavorful and fairly tender, the round yields various subprimal and fabricated cuts, including top round, bottom round (eye of round and heel of round), knuckle, and shank. Dry cooking such as roasting is appropriate for top round, which is relatively tender. The top or bottom round benefits from combination cooking such as stewing or braising. Lots of ground beef from this area as well.

Flank

Beneath the loin and behind the short plate (forequarter) is the flank. The flank contains a good amount of fat and connective tissue, which makes it tough. Flank yields flank steak. Moist cooking techniques are best for flank cuts.

One final note. When choosing to purchase a quarter, half, or whole beef, in addition to these cuts somewhere between 35% and 50% of the packaged fabricated cuts will be ground beef.

Variety Meats

Variety meats include internal organs, glands, and other meats that are removed during the processing of the carcass. Traditionally viewed as ethnic food items, variety meats have found their way onto American menus in limited quantities. High in protein, vitamins, and iron, variety meats are features of soups, stews, and other dishes.

All the beef variety meats except kidney are muscle tissue. These meats are tough in general and require long, moist cooking to become tender. Kidneys are the only glance from beef served with much frequency.

Heart

Tough but lean, the heart lends itself to braising or stewing. Ground heart can be added to meatloaves or to casseroles calling for chopped meat. Be sure to remove veins and fibers before cooking.

Liver

Beef liver is dark in color and has a strong flavor. It should be broiled, braised, or panfried. It is often served with onions and is added to pies and puddings.

Tongue

The customary method for cooking tongue is simmering. After cooking, remove the skin and gristle. Cooked and chilled beef tongue is a favorite sliced meat for sandwiches. Smoking and curing are other methods of preparation before cooking.

Oxtail

Before cooking, oxtails need to be cut into sections at the joints. Oxtails are rich in gelatin and also contain tasty meat, both of which augment the texture and flavor of soups and stews.

Kidney

Beef kidney is somewhat tough and has a relatively strong flavor. Braising helps tenderize this variety meat, which is a key ingredient in steak and kidney pie.

I’m currently working on a cookbook that will have at least one recipe for every cut of meat I’ve described in this podcast. One of the challenges when purchasing a quarter, half, or whole beef is what to do with all of those cuts of meat and variety meats. I hope to fill in that gap for you with my whole beef cookbook. You can be confident in being able to use all of the great grass-fed meat in which you invested.

At the last farmers market, I brought Moroccan seasoned meatballs to give customers an opportunity to taste the quality of our lamb. Today’s recipe is in response to a direct request from several of my customers who read my newsletter and love the recipes.

Moroccan Seasoned Meatballs

Seasoned with a Moroccan-style blend of fresh mint, cinnamon, coriander and cumin and simmered in tomato sauce, these tender lamb meatballs make a flavorful change from their Italian-style cousins.

Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes Total time: 45 minutes

What You Need

Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What To Do

  1. Combine the lamb, egg, garlic, bread crumbs, mint, parsley, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Form the mixture into 16 to 18 meatballs about 1 ¼ inch in diameter.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about three minutes total. Transfer the meatballs to a plate, drain the excess fat from the pan and return it to the stove.
  3. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, one minute longer.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes. Add ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon and coriander and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for two minutes, then taste again and adjusted the spices as desired.
  5. Return the meatballs to the pan and turn several times to coat them with the sauce cover and simmer slowly until the meatballs are cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a serving dish, garnish with parsley and serve with steamed white rice.

Enjoy!!!

Final Thoughts

That’s it for this podcast. The farmstead keeps on keeping on. The creamery gets closer and closer to completion with every passing day. The animals continue to thrive and enjoy their pasture-based existence.

I hope you enjoyed the ins and outs of beef and you better understand the nose to tail beef option. It is the lifeblood of many local farmers. They invest a great deal of time and energy into a beef product you can trust.

Look for my new Whole Beef Cookbook in the coming weeks. And do give the meatballs a try. I know, I know it’s lamb, not beef. But they are excellent just the same.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Also, please share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

Recipe Link

Moroccan Seasoned Meatballs

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7 Tips for Using a Traditional Slow-Cooker

Using a traditional slow-cooker has taken a back seat to Instapot-type pressure cookers and air fryers. But I still use mine and today’s podcast is all about “why”, “when,” and “how.” In fact, I have 7 tips on using a traditional slow-cooker.

I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast every episode. I appreciate you all so much. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are set up for a fabulous New Year celebration.

We are old fogies and likely won’t even stay awake until the ball drops in Time Square. Well, we might be watching Game of Thrones past midnight. I know it’s so over, but we listened to the audiobooks ages ago and I wasn’t really impressed with the book nor the first adapted to TV season. Anyway, we watched the videos of the first season again after years of it sitting on the shelf. Following that, I decided to finish the series. You know, end of year, cleaning up loose ends and such, so we’re now watching, and are currently in season 3, after staying away for all those years. Still not that impressed, but it is okay.

Truly I’m a Wheel of Time fangirl and am anxiously awaiting Amazon’s original production beginning in the fall next year. I’m counting on it putting Game of Thrones to shame. Anyway, I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week so let’s get to it.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • 7 Tips for Using a Traditional Slow-Cooker
  • Easy Barbecued Beef

Homestead Life Updates

Life has slowed down some here as we get into the winter season. Milking is done. Canning is done – for the most part. I will be making bone broth throughout the winter and building up my stores of that tasty burst of nutrition. But as with any homestead situation, stuff is going on year-round.

Goats

The biggest challenge seems to be keeping the goats inside the fence. One in particular, Star, just seems to go wherever she wants. They all got out a week or so ago and there happened to be an open gate to paddock #7 so they are in there while the rest of the girls, the cows and sheep, are rotating through the back pastures 10 through 14. Star is with the cows and sheep – at least the last time we looked she was there. It’s a different day so who knows.

Sheep

The sheep are doing well. Again, we expect our first lambs around the 6th of May. What do you think about a farm tour in June? The lambs will be really cute at that age.

Cows

The cows are plugging along. Luna is growing like a weed. She is such a beautiful calf. We have received the canister that will house the semen for artificial insemination next season. The boys are slowly getting thinned out. Eventually, we will have only female bovine. I’m looking forward to that day when we have a single herd of cows. Today we have five cows and Luna the heifer in one herd and two steers and three bulls in another herd. The boys are okay, but it’s the girls, Claire, Cloud, Buttercup, Violet, Butter and now Luna that are my treasures.

Quail

Nothing much going on with the Quail. They aren’t laying any eggs. I’m not looking for any new eggs until spring. March, or maybe even April.

The Creamery

It’s so exciting to see the roof going on. At the moment, it is actually the decking for the attic floor. Once Scott completes this part, he will have a platform on which to build the rafters. He is building them, more or less, in place. Once they are complete, our friend Charles will come over and help him literally raise the roof. The carpentry goes much faster than the masonry.

The Garden

I’m mentally planning the garden at this point. Sometime in January or February I’ll order the seeds. I had such a good time growing seedlings last spring that I’m thinking about growing quite a few more and selling them at the farmers market. I already know I’m going to be growing a lot of peas, beans, and tomatoes because I use a lot of them making meals for the women’s homeless shelter. I’ll probably grow squash again. I didn’t grow any last year. And peppers. I think I’ll grow a variety of peppers again.

That’s about it for Homestead updates. Let’s get on with today’s topic.

7 Tips For Using a Traditional Slow-cooker

The slow-cooker offers the home cook a way of making “fast food.” While it may cook slowly, it has a fix-it-and-forget-it feature that other cooking techniques can’t match. Once your ingredients are in the cooker, there is no stirring, no fussing, no additional attention necessary until your dish is ready for the table. My Cosori pressure cooker comes close but there are reasons that I still use my traditional slow-cooker. Feel free to use either.

What Exactly Is a Slow-cooker?

First of all, “slow-cooker” is the generic term used for this appliance, but the company who first designed the slow-cooker (Rival) named their product crockpot. The slow-cooker and crockpot are one and the same. Features that make a slow-cooker or crockpot a slow-cooker are:

  • Countertop appliance with low and high settings without a gauge to set a specific temperature
  • The inner container is made from stoneware, ceramic or heat resistant glass
  • It has wrap around heating elements within a metal casing. This provides indirect heat to the container for even heating and avoids hotspots and stirring is usully not required for most dishes.
  • A tightfitting lid to contain the heat and steam.

The combination of low temperature, lengthy cooking times and locked-in moisture work together to cook food thoroughly, while inhibiting the growth of bacteria and eliminating the need for your personal attention during the lengthy cooking process.

Slow-cookers are typically round or oval in shape and range in size from 1 to 7 quarts. Depending on your needs, it may be useful to have a couple of different sizes—a smaller one for side dishes and dips, (try my cheese fondue recipe in a quart sized unit) and another larger size for bigger main meals and to allow room to double or triple a dish for larger gatherings or so you can freeze a portion for later. Current models have digital features, such as an automatic “off” or “keep warm” option. These options allow you to better control how long your dish cooks when you are away from home.

Traditional Origins and Benefits of Slow Cooking

Although slow-cooking was introduced in the early 1970s, it can be considered a modern version of the time-honored tradition of braising, stewing, pot-roasting and Dutch oven cooking methods. All of these use long cooking times, low temperatures with liquid and a tightfitting lid or cover to keep all of the ingredients in a moist environment. All of these slow-cooking methods typically use indirect heat, such as with an oven, compared to the direct heat applied from fire or a stovetop.

As described in Slow-Cookers for Dummies, “for generations, women in small towns throughout Europe. . . Have been using the town bread baker’s cooling ovens to slow-cook their family meals. . . For a small price, the Baker rented oven space to anyone who wanted to slow-cook a joint of meat or fish. The food was left in the oven unattended and picked up in the early afternoon for dinner. Although the practice of slow-cooking in a wood-burning oven was also common practice in the United States during the 1800s, it died out with the introduction of cast-iron stoves. . .”

Just as with any other food preparation technique, flops can happen in a slow-cooker. While it is an easy-to-use appliance, it does take a little more thought to use than just dumping in the ingredients and flipping the on switch. Just as with any cooking method, it is important to know how the appliance functions at its best. With a little knowledge, you will experience many more successes than mishaps. Also, the more you learn about how to operate the slow-cooker, the easier it will be for you to create new or adapt old family recipes to this nourishing, time-saving method of preparing nutritious food.

Let’s get to the heart of today’s topic, 7 tips for using a traditional slow-cooker.

Why? Because It is Practical

Here is a short list of why it is practical:

  • You save time in the kitchen
  • The meal is portable and perfect for buffets and potlucks
  • You save money on electricity
  • In the summer, lower heat production is a great boon
  • It is safe to leave it unattended at home while you work, shop or chauffeur the family here and there
  • You can use up tougher cuts of meat you got with that great ¼ cow, ½ pig or whole lamb package deal
  • Your oven is free for other tasks
  • You save yourself from cleaning an additional serving dish
  • Nutritious broth from meat and bones produces collagens and gelatins and enhances the flavor of the dish

Which Setting to Use and When?

The settings on most slow-cookers include off, low and high. Most slow-cooker recipes are geared to the low setting, which reaches 180 to 200°, that is, a gentle simmer. The high setting hovers between 280 to 300° and will cook food about 2 to 2 ½ times faster than when on low.

Another option is to start a dish out on high for about an hour to get a jump start on heating the container, and then turn it back down to low for the remainder of the time. This method is especially useful when cooking large cuts of meat or whole chickens.

The keep-warm setting is a great way to maximize the usefulness of this appliance. Once the food has been thoroughly cooked, this setting will prevent further cooking or drying out, and will keep food ready-to-eat for at least two hours.

How Long Does It Really Take to Cook?

Besides the chosen setting (high or low), other factors that influence the speed your dish will cook are the liquid and fat content of the dish, temperature of the food, temperature of the container (such as whether it was left in the fridge with pre-prepared ingredients the night before), altitude, size of the pieces of food and of course your specific slow-cooker.

How Much Food Is Too Much?

For the best outcome, the container of your slow-cooker should be half to three-quarters full. Filling the container less than half full is more likely to result in overcooked or burned food. Food in a overfilled container may not cooked thoroughly in the allotted time or get hot enough to inhibit bacteria growth, which is to reach 140° in under four hours. Spillage outside the container is also more likely with expansion of the food.

Do I Still Have to Brown or Sauté?

Some slow-cooker recipes require nothing more than chopping up the ingredients, while others may taste better with a touch more prep. Since slow-cookers don’t reach browning temperatures, browning large cuts of meat or sautéing or softening vegetables (especially onions and garlic) outside the slow-cooker in a separate skillet is an option to impart more depth of flavor to a dish.

Browning ground meat usually results in improved color and texture, but this step is not absolutely necessary, and browning is not recommended for meatloaf and similar dishes.

The downside to browning is that it takes away from the slow-and-low concept I spoke about earlier; however, there may be occasions when Browning is the best way to go for sheer taste and tenderness. Bottom line: Browning meats and sautéing or softening vegetables are unnecessary, but experiment and see what you and your family’s taste buds prefer.

Which Foods and When?

With a few exceptions, most of the ingredients for your slow-cooker dish can be put in all at the same time and still end up evenly cooked. Here are a few brief guidelines.

Vegetables: although it seems counterintuitive, most vegetables (especially roots such as potatoes, carrots and turnips) cook more slowly than meat and poultry do in the slow-cooker. These do best when layered along the bottom under the meat or other ingredients or along the sides of the container. Faster cooking veggies (peas and greens) can be added 20 to 30 minutes before the dish is finished cooking.

Poultry: poultry is easy to overcook and dry out. Leave the skin on a whole chicken to lock in moisture and add flavor.

Beans and legumes: these dried foods are perfectly suited for the slow-cooker, just be sure to properly prepare them beforehand and don’t add salt until after they are cooked, as salt will keep the skins tough.

Dairy: milk, cream, sour cream and yogurt tend to curdle with long simmering and cheese can break down and separate. It is best to leave these foods on the table to get the most from their enzymes and live cultures.

Seafood: foods from the sea also tend to cook fast, thus tend to not fare well with the long cooking times of the slow-cooker. Add them during the last 30 to 60 minutes of cooking.

Herbs and spices: whole herbs and spices release their flavors slowly, while ground versions tend to lose their flavor or even become bitter tasting in the slow-cooker. Chopped fresh herbs should be added during the last hour of cooking.

Converting Recipes

The easiest way to adapt a traditional recipe for the slow-cooker is to find a similar slow-cooker recipe and use it as a guide. Recipes that include some moisture and require longer cooking times, 45 minutes to an hour, in the oven or on the stovetop are good candidates for converting to the slow-cooker since they will most likely finish cooking within eight hours on low in the slow-cooker. In fact, most uncooked meat and veggie combos will take approximately eight hours. Because the enclosed environment of the slow-cooker discourages evaporation and generates liquid, about half the liquid is needed for the same recipe cooked on the stove top or in the oven. However, this does not apply to soups, sauces, chilies or chowders.

The Last Word

Make every effort to obtain the highest quality meats and poultry—it’s safer, it’s much more nutritious, it’s tastier, and the slow-cooker brings out the best in these foods. Worry and anxiety about reaching certain in internal temperatures is less of a concern with these truly healthy foods.

Start taking advantage of this fast food technique today! All you need is a high-quality slow-cooker—and yes that includes your multifunction pressure cooker. While I have one, I still use my traditional slow-cooker. That frees me up to use my Cosori multifunction gadget separately. I might need some boiled eggs that come out of the shell effortlessly or I might make some lovely yogurt at the same time my slow-cooker is making some fantastic barbecued beef.

And that brings us to today’s recipe.

Easy Barbecued Beef

This easy barbecued beef recipe takes advantage of your traditional slow-cooker. It’s great for any cookout or potluck dinner. Chuck roast makes delicious shredded beef sandwiches. The recipe calls for ketchup however, you may substitute tomato paste for a slightly less sweet dish. In any case, this barbecued beef is sure to please your family.

What You Need

  • 3-pound boneless grass-fed Chuck roast
  • 1 ½ cups ketchup or tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, diced

What to Do

  1. Place chuck roast in your slow-cooker.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in mixing bowl to make sauce. Pour mixture over Chuck roast.
  3. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours or 4 to 5 hours on high.
  4. Remove roast from slow-cooker and shred meat with a fork. Place shredded meat back into the slow-cooker and stir to evenly coat with sauce.
  5. Serve alone or atop whole-grain sandwich buns and top with additional barbecue sauce if desired.

Notes

If you like your meat a touch sweeter, add a tablespoon or two of date sugar while it is still hot to allow it to dissolve.

Final Thoughts

That’s it for today’s podcast. I hope you enjoyed our homestead updates. We love sharing our life with you.

Traditional cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. So, fire up that Instapot or dig out your old, faithful slow-cooker and give that barbecued beef recipe a try.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. And the absolute best thing you can do to help out the show is to share it with any friends or family who might be interested in our content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

Recipe Link

Easy Barbecued Beef

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Popular Cheeses

For a little change of pace, Popular Cheeses is today’s topic as I’m sure I’ve worn you all out with all of those raw milk podcasts. The recipe today is a fun, quick and easy method of making your own fresh cheese, or as the Mexican cheese lovers call it, queso fresco.

I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • Popular Cheeses
  • Queso Fresco

Homestead Life Updates

Just a few quick notes here. The most important news first.

Animals Updates

We have a new calf. Cloud gave birth to Luna on the 23rd of November. She was a healthy and vigorous 70-pound heifer. Mom and calf are doing really well. The other cows are drying up for their winter respite from producing milk.

Scott finished all of the blocks of the interior walls in the creamery. He is off to other tasks for the past few days. Fixing fences and preparing the pastures for winter grazing and hay-feeding as we move into the winter season on the homestead.

The sheep and goats are doing well, though we are missing two goat girls. All of the goats were escaping, as goats do on a regular basis. Scott fixed the place in the fence where they were escaping but we are still missing two. Scott also moved the goats from one pasture to another so perhaps the stragglers simply haven’t figured out where everyone is at the moment. There are gates open at various places so they can get inside a pasture and closer to the main group. No sign of them for a couple of days. We will keep our eyes open and do some serious searching if needed.

The Homeless Shelter

I had the pleasure of making a meal for the women staying at the homeless shelter sponsored by our church. We always have an abundance of food and this is a great way to help those who are less fortunate. Homelessness is running rampant in the US. I could just complain about how bad it is and look for the government to step in and do something. However, I wanted to make a real difference. Most of these ladies are either mentally ill and incapable of caring for themselves or have issues with drugs and/or alcohol. It’s a difficult situation and one without an easy solution. I do what I can to ease their troubles with a good hot meal on a cold night. I’ll be providing these meals 2 to 4 times per month throughout this winter. Cooking for 30 is a challenge but I’m up to it.

Last night, along with the meat loaf, green beans and chocolate cake, they got to try my very excellent mac and cheese. It was as big hit. The popular cheeses in that recipe are gruyere and cheddar which I will be touching on in today’s podcast.

Popular Cheeses

Let’s talk about some of the popular cheeses; how to recognize them and what to do with them. As I have talked about previously, cheese results from an interaction between milk and bacteria or an enzyme called rennet. For more information on basic cheesemaking please see my previous podcast, “The Basics of Cheesemaking.”

In a nutshell, the milk proteins (casein) coagulate, forming the solid curds, which then are separated and drained from the liquid whey. Additional processing, both before and after coagulation and whey separation, include: adding special cultures and bacteria, yeast or mold; salting; pressing; aging; and curing. Various combination of these processes create the variety of cheeses available today.

There are several subgroups that I will talk about today. Based on processing techniques, cheeses fall into a few select areas. There are hard cheeses, semi-hard cheeses, semi-soft cheeses, and soft cheeses which come in both fresh and ripened varieties.

I’m going to give a very brief overview and description of a few popular cheeses and how each might be used in your home. Brief overviews and a select few is all I will have time for today. If you’d like more information, please comment below the podcast and I will answer your questions to the best of my ability.

Hard cheeses

Hard cheeses have been aged to reduce moisture content to about 30%. Hard cheeses often are used for grating. Maximum flavor comes from freshly grated cheese. Some of the most popular cheese in the category of “hard” follow.

Asiago: asiago is an Italian cow’s milk cheese with a tangy, nutty flavor and a texture that varies depending on the age of the cheese. Asiago is white to pale yellow and melts easily. Wendy’s fast food restaurant makes an asiago chicken sandwich. This asiago is sliced, not grated but certainly melts well. Yum, yum.

Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan): True Parmigiano-Reggiano is a cow’s milk cheese from an area in Italy near Parma. The name is protected and can only be used when strict production guidelines are followed. The least of which is it must be produced in a specific area near Parma, Italy. It has a sharp, spicy taste and a very hard, dry texture. Parmigiano-Reggiano is always used grated or shaved. The knock-off produced in the United States and elsewhere is called Parmesan and does not match the flavor of the original. Parmigiano-Reggiano is used in gratins and pastas and as a topping for salads and other dishes.

Pecorino-Romano: Made in central and southern Italy from sheep’s milk, Pecorino-Romano has a robust and piquant flavor and is noticeably salty. It can be served as a table cheese or grated for cooking. Again, the name is protected. In the US we know this popular cheese as Romano.

Semi-Hard cheeses

Semi-hard cheeses have a little more moisture content than hard cheese. They range from 30% to 40% moisture, giving them a firm, solid texture. Their flavors can range from mild to quite sharp, depending on age.

Cheddar: With origins in Great Britain, cheddar is now the most popular cheese in the world. This cow’s milk cheese ranges from mild to sharp in flavor and has a dense texture. Orange cheddars owe their color to a vegetable die made from annatto seeds. Uncolored cheddars are pale yellow. Colby is a popular mild American cheddar cheese. Use cheddar in grilling and cooking, as well as on sandwiches and snack trays.

Emmental: Emmental is the original cow’s milk Swiss cheese with very large holes caused by gases that form during ripening. It has a mild, nutty taste and comes in 200-pound wheels. Emmental is the classic choice for fondue, but it also is used in sandwiches and snacks and dessert trays. Swiss cheese is the Americanized Emmental cheese.

Jarlsburg: Although jarlsburg is a cow’s milk cheese from Norway, it’s taste, fat content, and appearance are similar to the Swiss Emmental. Jarlsburg is used on cheese boards, in sandwiches and cooking.

Gruyere: Another Swiss cow’s milk cheese, Gruyere, has a mild, nutty taste, moist texture, and small holes. Because Gruyere melts easily, it is suitable for cooking. It also can be served as an appetizer and as a desert cheese. I use it in fondue.

Monterey Jack: Monterey Jack is a rich cow’s milk cheese from California. It ranges from mild and pale to a sharp and pungent yellow cheese. Monterey Jack sometimes contains peppers or herbs for flavor. It melts well, making it an appropriate choice for cooking.

Provolone: Provolone is a cow’s milk cheese from southern Italy. It has pale yellow color and flavor that ranges from mild to sharp, depending on age. Provolone also comes smoked and in a variety of shapes, including cones, rounds, and cylinders. Use provolone in cooking, as well is in sandwiches or as an appetizer.

Semi-soft cheeses

Semi-soft cheeses have a moisture content of 40% to 50%. Their texture is smooth and sliceable but not spreadable. Semi-soft cheeses can be classified into two groups: the smooth, buttery cheeses and the veined cheeses which owe their distinctive appearance and taste to the veins of blue or blue-green mold running through them.

Smooth, Buttery Cheese

Fontina: Fontina is a nutty, rich cow’s milk cheese from Italy. It has a slightly elastic touch and a few small holes. Use fontina on dessert trays and in cooking.

Gouda: Gouda is a Dutch cow’s milk cheese with a pale-yellow color and a mellow, buttery flavor. Mature Gouda has a firmer texture and a more pronounced flavor. Gouda often is packaged in red or yellow wax-covered wheels. Use gouda in cooking and serve it as an appetizer, with fruit, and on dessert trays.

Havarti: Havarti is a cow’s milk cheese from Denmark. This pale creamy cheese is filled with many small irregular holes. These are mechanical holes related to light pressing as opposed to the Swiss cheese holes resulting from ripening cultures that produce gasses that form the holes. It has a mild, buttery taste and sometimes is flavored with caraway seeds. Havarti makes a fine addition to a snack tray or sandwich.

Veined Cheeses

Gorgonzola: Gorgonzola is a blue veined cow’s milk cheese from Italy. It has a distinct aroma and a tangy, pungent flavor that is sharper in mature cheeses. Its texture is smoother than that of other blue-veined cheeses, such as Roquefort or Stilton. Gorgonzola is used in sauces, on cheese trays, with fruit, and in mixed salads.

Roquefort: Though similar cheeses are produced elsewhere, EU law dictates that only those cheeses aged in the natural Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon may bear the name Roquefort, as it is a recognized geographical indication. As with Emmental, Camembert de Normandie and many others, it has a protected designation of origin. Made from sheep’s milk, Roquefort is a crumbly blue-veined cheese with a pungent taste and strong aroma. Use Roquefort in mixed salads, Roquefort dressing, cooking, and as an appetizer or dessert cheese.

Stilton: Stilton is an English cow’s milk blue-veined cheese. It has a crumbly texture, edible rind, and pungent tang. Traditional compliments to Stilton are fruit, walnuts, and port.

Fresh soft cheeses

Fresh soft cheeses are unripened cheeses with mild flavors and a moisture content of 40% to 80%. The high moisture content gives these cheeses a soft texture and short shelf life.

Cottage cheese: Cottage cheese gets its name from the fact that it was originally a home or cottage-made cheese. Commercial cottage cheese is made from skim, low fat, reduced fat, or whole cow’s milk and has a bland taste. It comes packed in tubs in small, medium, and large curd forms swimming in cream. Cottage cheese can be used in cooking and as an accompaniment to fruit or raw vegetables and salad.

Queso fresco: queso fresco is literally Spanish for fresh cheese. It is a Mexican cheese, traditionally made from raw cow milk or combination of cow and goat milk. Queso fresco is a soft, moist, curd style fresh cheese that’s bright, creamy, and pleasantly milky. In traditional Mexican cuisine, queso fresco is used as a crumbled or cubed topping to balance out the flavors in rich and spicy dishes. It’s a perfect stuffing cheese because of its soft yet compact consistency. Today’s recipe is how to make this treat quickly and easily.

Feta: Feta is a great cheese traditionally made from sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep and goats’ milk. After the curd forms, it is salted, sliced, and packed in salt brine. Feta is a crumbly, white cheese with a salty tang that grows stronger with age. It is used in cooked dishes and salads and as an accompaniment to olives and bread.

Chevre: chevre frais, French version of fresh cheese. It is fresh goat cheese. Chevre is soft and spreadable with a mild but characteristic goat cheese tang. Many times, you will find herb and spice flavored versions. Use chevre in cooking, as a spread with crackers and raw vegetables, or on sandwiches.

Marscapone: Marscapone is an Italian cow’s milk cream cheese with a rich, creamy taste and the silky, smooth texture. Use marscapone in desserts such as tiramisu, in sauces, and as a spread. Marscapone can also be served plain, with a sprinkle of cocoa or liqueur.

Neufchatel: Neufchatel is a cow’s milk cheese, similar to cream cheese, from the Neufchatel region of Normandy. Neufchatel has a soft, creamy texture, and slightly tart flavor that builds as the cheese ripens. Use it the same way as cream cheese. My recipe, Skillet Chicken with Neufchatel Spinach Artichoke Sauce, can be found here.

Mozzarella: Mozzarella is the firmest of the fresh soft cheeses. Traditionally mozzarella is a small oval cheese made with water-buffalo’s milk, although cow’s milk is now a common substitute. Fresh mozzarella is white and quite mild. It melts well in cooked dishes and often is served in salads with fresh tomatoes and olive oil and as a cold appetizer. Commercial mozzarella has a much firmer texture and a blander flavor. That version is often used shredded in cooked dishes and on pizza.

Ricotta: All of the other cheeses before this one have been made from the curd part of the “curds and whey”. Ricotta is an Italian cheese made from the whey part of the “curds and whey” left after making use of the curds for other cheeses, such as mozzarella and provolone. Its uses are similar to those of cottage cheese, but its flavor is slightly sweeter. Ricotta has a smooth, slightly grainy texture. Use ricotta in baked goods and in pasta dishes such as lasagna. Italians also serve ricotta as a dessert cheese, sprinkled with sugar or salt, and as a filling for pastry.

Ripened soft cheeses

Ripened soft cheeses have rich flavors and a buttery smoothness. They are characterized by thin rinds and soft, creamy centers.

Brie: brie is a French cow’s milk cheese with a white crusty rind and a buttery texture that oozes at room temperature when the cheese is fully ripe. Brie has little flavor before it is ripe and will stop ripening once cut. Overripe brie develops a strong ammonia odor. Serve brie when its center begins to bulge slightly. Include brie on appetizer and dessert trays, in sauces, and in pastry. Brie should be served at room temperature.

Camembert: Similar to brie, Camembert is a cow’s milk cheese that originated in the French village of Camembert. It has a slight tang and the pasteurized version is generally milder than brie. Its shape is round as is brie, but with a smaller diameter. Its uses mirror those of brie.

St. Andre: St. Andre is a French triple-cream cheese with a white downy rind and a slightly sweet, buttery taste. It is most often served as a dessert cheese.

Queso Fresco

Want to make queso fresco at home? Here is an easy recipe to make this homemade cheese that is a popular topping for tacos, nachos, enchiladas and tostadas.  Many Latin foods use this ingredient and it is so easy.

What You Need

  • ½-gallon fresh whole, low-fat or skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar

What To Do

  1. Assemble a cheese cloth lined colander.
  2. Heat the milk and salt stirring constantly to prevent sticking.
  3. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat to low, and add 3 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar.
  4. Watch and stir. Almost immediately, the milk will separate into curds and whey. If not, add one more tablespoon of vinegar. Continue to stir gently to encourage whey extraction and curd formation.
  5. Drain into the cheesecloth-lined colander in the sink. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is cool enough to handle. Form the curds into a ball or disc while squeezing excess whey through the cheesecloth. At this point the cheese is ready to eat, but if you prefer a drier, firmer cheese, you can set it on a plate or a sheet pan with a plate on top of it. Use some kind of weight — cans, pots and pans, or books — to press it down for 15 more minutes or up to a couple of hours.
  6. Crumble over tacos or enchiladas, or sprinkle into a salad. Slice as a side with your morning sausage and eggs.

Notes:

This cheese is not a melting cheese. It is best enjoyed as is, fried or baked — just as long as you don’t need it to become gooey.

Final Thoughts

That’s a wrap for today’s podcast. I hope your holiday season is going well and you find it in your heart to help those less fortunate than you in whatever way you can. We are blessed with food that others need and, though time is often short, I’m making it happen and getting it to them.

There is a lot more information on types of cheeses available for download in pdf form on our website. Link in the show notes. And give that queso fresco recipe a try. Less that a half hour and you can have your very own homemade cheese.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Also, please share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

 

References

Recipe Link

Queso Fresco

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