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Monday, 30 January 2012
I'm almost in shock. I guess I knew it but when you actually see it with your own eyes it's another thing. As I wrote in the last post I've had troubles getting a decent curd recently with the store-bought milk I was using. At first I started doubting temperature or cleanliness of tools, then the efficacy of my rennet, but after some reading it was clear that it was the milk's fault. Store bought milk is poor in CaCl2 (Calcium Chloride) because it gets depleted by pasteurisation. That's why most cheesemaking factories working with pasteurized milk need to add CaCl2 to their milk.
Last night I went to visit a farm nearby that sells raw milk to people and apart from the amusing old farmer and his equally amusing son, I got the pleasure of going back home with 5 liters of udder-warm raw milk from beautiful Simmental cows.
I processed it right away and "Oh My!". In 1 hour I had a curd so firm I could have played football with it.
No more store-bought milk for me, thankiuverimucce.
Friday, 27 January 2012
I was back from Ireland on Monday the 9th but life has been busy and full of unexpected things, some of them very sad, time has been very limited. It has been a different stay this time. The enthusiasm which left us elated at the first farm visit (entirely justified by the beauty of the place and the existence of a common project) is still there but the fear of having a hugely immense task in front of us is creeping up.
The situation is in continuous evolution and the more we read the legislation the more we have to adapt to different contingencies. The timetable we thought of will still be the same, I'd like to stick with it because of the seasonality of sheep lactation but we might have to reassess other parts of the plan. I still would like to get the first animals this next autumn but I'd like to keep the initial investment under control because there are still too many technical questions which I need answers to.
These are technical points that mainly involve a series of food security checks that are compulsory by law, both on milk and cheese, and might be too heavy to sustain for a small production like ours and another series of technical issues linked to how the cheese facilities need to be designed and planned and where they can be built (on farm vs off farm).
There are also other minor issues like the possibility that we might need to pasteurise milk for some of the cheese we intend to produce...
Anyway, apart from all this, I got my hands on a very nice starter culture used to make caciocavallo and "strong ricotta" and I gave it a go last night. Unfortunately, the store bought milk I have been using for my trials has recently been giving really poor curds, too weak to get a clean cut. I had the feeling it was a question of temperature but after much trial and error it seems that it's the milk's fault.
It's time to get some decent raw milk or Calcium Chloride. I also ordered some new cheese mats and a Cheese Press! I could have built one but I simply have no time at the moment.
I'll open the second dry cheese experiment in a while...
In the mean time I'm trying to get rid of a bitch and a car (I've got two of everything!)