"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, May 16, 2016

The High Cheese Season

I took all the milk products out of my fridge to take stock. We are in the high cheese season now for sure, friends and neighbors. More or less from left to right, we have:

- Four separate hard cheeses, in eight half-cheese packages, vacuum packed and aging slowly in the fridge. The vacuum packing is something new I'm trying this year. I'm hoping the cheese will keep for several months this way. The oldest vacuum packed cheddar was packaged on 3/13, according to the label, and I haven't broached it yet to try it it. Looks fine though. No mold. I think, altogether, there is about 12 pounds of hard cheese. 

- in the jars at the rear there is a half gallon of fresh milk and a half gallon of yogurt. 

- the ziplocks bags in the middle foreground hold chèvre. 

- a big bowl of chèvre, on the right front. This particular batch was a tiny bit watery and I made the mistake of trying to let it dry a bit through evaporation by leaving it out in the hot sun with a screen over it. I don't know what I was thinking. I should have remembered that too much heat will only develop the caprine compounds - read, make it taste like a randy buck goat. I may be able to salvage that chèvre by using it in some kind of disguised application like a lasagna. Or it might only make randy buck goat-flavored lasagna. 

Temperature, arguably, is the most important variable in cheesemaking, after the type of culture used. Not only do you employ different temperatures during the inoculating and curd-cooking phases of cheesemaking, but the temperatures at which the cheese is held afterwards will result in very noticeable differences. Temperature is also the most difficult variable to control in the home kitchen. During this recent heat wave, I probably shouldn't have attempted to make chèvre at all, because room temperature was well over eighty degrees and unpleasant flavors are likely to develop when the cheese is held at that temperature for long. 

- in the stockpot on the stove in the far background is another batch of cheddar, which I will press this evening. That will be with red pepper flakes. 

There's enough cheese here to feed the Russian army, as my mom was wont to say. But I have to keep making it! I have only a month left before we go to Oaxaca for the summer and dry off the goats. All of this year's cheese has to be made before we leave. 

I wonder if chèvre can be frozen?