Friday, November 16, 2007

Flying solo with Brie

It's been just a little over a month, and I have been frantically trying to suck up every morsel of cheese-making expertise and instruction from my new boss. She moves around the cheesehouse so naturally, and has all of this experience and understanding tucked so deeply away that she does things without even being aware of it, not to mention the tons of little "shortcuts" she knows and's a little daunting to learn this way, but she tolerates questions, so I am picking it up.

I flew solo today; making a batch of cow milk brie from start to finish by myself. We poured out twenty eight or so of the larger molds, which when finished will sell for $10 each. I have no idea the weight of these wheels, but they are roughly the size of a saucer (6-7 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick). It takes about a month for them to grow their white mold casing, so I won't be able to taste them for a while.

I've learned to wax cheese, stack cheddar curd, brush cheese wheels, cut curds, stir the whey, and on and on, but this was the first time she let me go. Considering we were dealing with almost $300 worth of cheese, it was no small trust.

On the home front, 4 out of 5 sheep are clipped and coated, the last of the apples are being picked this weekend for cider, and the winter wheat still sits on the front porch, mocking me in its plastic-bagged state. With company planned for the weekend, it remains to be seen what I can get done. Trying to farm as a job, and keep this wee farm going is a constant race for time. Too bad all I want to do now is sit and knit...

We found this little fellow trying out our cellar out as a potential winter hibernation spot:

Actually very striking and pretty, this milk snake was about 18" long, still a baby. Hopefully, it finds a home in the rock wall and settles in before a serious freeze.

Speaking of settling in, there's a set of dpn's laden with alpaca calling to me...


Karin said...

PLease please start raising goats. I cannot eat cow's milk anything, but I'm good with goat's milk cheese. :)
Nice costume and prop, Madison!

melanie said...

Never fear, we are actually an organic goat milk dairy. But when you want the new chick to learn cheesemaking and not ruin the good let her play with the cows.

Now as for ME raising goats...I just may stick to fiber first, and then if we should breed her, the milk will just be a bonus, right?

Kathy L. said...

I am soooo envious, Melanie! I just have cheesemaking acoutrements spread out all over the kitchen when I'm making cheese. I have the "bugs" for Brie and you've inspired me to try it! Do you use powdered or liquid rennet at work?

Whey to go, Cheesemaker!!!

melanie said...

Well, we use liquid rennet, and dilute it in cold water before adding so as not to shock the cheese, or over-concentrate it in one part of the vat as we add it. We have discovered just this week that the cow milk brie takes more rennet, and slightly longer time to form the right curd, due most likely to the higher fat content than the goat's milk.

Kathy L. said...

And if you ever milk your Shetlands, sheep cheese takes less rennent too. I believe it's because both goat and sheep milks have more proteins in them. Use about 1/4 less for sheeps' milk. :)

And Belated Happy Thanksgiving Wishes to you and your family, Melanie!