This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: cheese

Farmer’s (Goat) Cheese aka Neufchatel

I just finished eating a few crackers topped with my first (successful) attempt at Farmer’s Cheese, a soft “cream” type cheese.

A neighbor said she had made some Farmer’s cheese with the inexpensive Junket rennet tablets found in the local grocery store, so I thought I would try that first. An online cheese making blog said not to use Junket rennet because it is not the same as cheese rennet. But it was here and within my budget, so it was cheese rennet to me! 🙂

Goat Milk Cheese Rennet

My “first” first attempt was a bust, using the original recipe from the Junket instructions. Not to say it doesn’t work, but that my attempt didn’t work. The recipe calls for buttermilk, which I didn’t have; so I looked online and found you can substitute with milk and lemon juice. So I did that, along with adding 1/4 tablet of rennet dissolved in a little water. In hindsight, I don’t think the combination of those was enough to coagulate the milk. I heated the milk to 65 degrees F according to the recipe, added the “buttermilk” and rennet, and left the covered pot out overnight per the instructions. It was supposed to solidify overnight; but it just never did, even after I left it another 12+ hours. So that went to the chickens.

My next attempt was a conglomeration of a couple of recipes. This time I heated two quarts of our raw goat milk to just below boiling, and added two generous tablespoons of white vinegar (one per quart) and 1/2 tablet of the Junket rennet dissolved in a little water. Since this was previously frozen milk, it was a bit watery; so I decided to err on the side of caution and add too much vinegar and rennet rather than too little. The last thing I wanted was to ruin another batch:

Goat Milk Cheese Milk Heating

I whisked it all together, covered the pot, and hoped for the best. Well, this time it started to coagulate much more quickly, which gave me hope. By the next day, it was not as solid as I imagine a really good cheese probably would be; but it was close enough!

Goat Milk Cheese Milk Whisking

According to the recipe, the cheese is ready when you can poke your finger in and lift the top, gelled layer cleanly from the lower, liquid layer:

Goat Milk Cheese Curds

Then, you are supposed to cut it into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes in order to assist with the “draining of the whey” (sounds like a ceremony). The instructions call for the first cut starting down the middle, holding the knife at a 90 degree angle, and then each subsequent cut tilting the knife a little until you get to 45 degrees by the time you reach the side of the pot. You turn the pot 1/4 turn, and repeat the process, which eventually makes a grid of curd cubes. I forgot to tilt the knife as I cut — oh, well. But, it came out okay anyway:

Goat Milk Cheese Cutting Curds in Pot

Then, I spooned out the cubes of curds into a handkerchief-lined strainer with a bowl underneath to catch the whey drippings. They say to use cheesecloth, but it just seemed too loose of a mesh, and the handkerchief worked very well for this type of cheese:

Goat Milk Cheese Spooning to Handkerchief

Here it is all spooned into the strainer. You can’t tell here, but it’s draining like crazy underneath:

Goat Milk Cheese Whey Draining

Quite a bit of whey drained quickly, but it takes 2-3 hours to fully drain:

Goat Milk Cheese Whey

Here are the curds with the majority of the whey drained. Pretty cool, huh?!

Goat Milk Cheese Curds with Whey Drained

After the main draining, I hung up the handkerchief to draw out the rest of the whey with the help of a bit longer exposure to gravity:

Goat Milk Cheese Curds Drip Draining

Well, this looked like it might resemble Farmer’s, or some kind of cheese, and not too much like a train wreck:

Goat Milk Cheese

So I seasoned it with a little salt, garlic and onion powder, spooned it into a container and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Using two quarts of milk is supposed to make approximately 3/4 lbs. of cheese, and this looked about right:

Goat Milk Cheese Storage

I’m very pleased with the mild, seasoned taste. It has been too easy to eat a lot of crackers topped with the cheese at one sitting! But I’d rather have to combat will power than have to hold my nose closed and gag it down 🙂

Goat Milk Cheese on Crackers

All of our does have dried up in preparation to deliver more kids in the Spring, if the Lord wills; so this was my last opportunity to attempt making goat cheese until then; and I’m very thankful it turned out. I’m excited (and not as scared) at the future possibilities! What a great way to preserve milk; and we are, as always, very thankful for God’s direct provisions. Believe me, I know I probably could have done this much better and more “properly;” but, hey, it worked for me; and it’s food! I hope to continue to improve with more practice and maybe somebody out there can learn from my mistakes. Bon appetit!

Susan

Cheese Waxing

Our neighbor mentioned one day that the local market was having a great sale on cheddar cheese. Dave suggested we buy several pounds to take advantage of the price. I include cheese in many of our meals but not enough to consume that much before it would start to go bad. Then during one of our church get-togethers, another neighbor mentioned that you can preserve cheese in wax. I had seen wax-covered cheese in the deli’s and grocery stores all my life but had never thought much about it. I thought it was a marketing gimmick or something.

We decided to buy a five pound block of red cheese wax from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, and it arrived in just a few days:

The instructions called for a double-boiler in order to not burn the wax, so I dutifully went out and bought one. That was my first mistake. They said you should have dedicated utensils and containers because working with wax pretty much ruins them for other uses. I then asked myself, “What was I thinking. Why would I want to ruin a brand new double boiler for this use??!” I decided to keep the double boiler because I didn’t have one and it is an integral component of good kitchen utensils. So I ended up putting water in the bottom of the double boiler and setting in it an old stainless steel bowl which ended up working just as well. I hope to find a used large saucepan at a thrift store in which to put the steel bowl for a makeshift double boiler in any future cheese waxing:

I cut a small block of wax off of the large block and placed it in the bowl to start melting:

It really didn’t take long for the wax to melt at a low heat:

At first I tried using tongs to hold the cheese as I dipped it, but that seemed to be a bit slippery, and the cheese ended up being dropped. Also, we had purchased a cheese wax brush to dip and brush the wax onto the cheese. That was my second mistake. The brush proved to be pretty useless because it didn’t provide for a thorough coating, and the process was very time consuming. Dave suggested perhaps cutting the cheese (alright, enough snickering) into smaller sizes and dipping them in half at a time with clean hands, letting that dry, and then dipping the remaining half. That seemed to work really well:


The instructions called for two to three coats of wax, but since this was my first time, I wanted to coat them really well; so I ended up dipping them about four times. It took only seconds between each dipping for the coating to dry:


Here is the final product ready to be stored for several months!

We figured in storing the cheese it would be best to keep it as far away as possible from any potential mice, so we purchased a few inexpensive hanging baskets and hung them containing the cheese in our root cellar:

I have used a few blocks of the cheese so far, and the wax has proven to work beautifully. It comes off very easily and can be washed, melted and re-used. I highly recommend this method of cheese preservation and thank God for His continued provisions.

Susan