Thursday, April 14, 2011

Feta cheese and conk mushroom hunting, Poppie watched Cubbie and boy.

Even feeding the bums their daily bottle twice a day, which is about 80 ounces of milk, we finally got the 3 gallons of milk it takes to make cheese. I only make batches of cheese that big as I am too lazy to make littler batches, same work but a lot less cheese. A 3 gallon batches usually makes about 3 lbs or cheese or cheeses depending on the cheese, with Mozzarella you get the add benefit of both it and ricotta, but still about 3 lbs total. I don't usually got to the trouble of making ricotta with other cheeses as you don't get as much as when you make it with mozzarella; besided my house plants or garden plants benefit from the whey, if they have already been fed I give it to Swiss Miss our momma pig. She used to be Miss chops but Booboo's little pig died so she got to have Miss Chops for hers and changed her name to Swiss Miss. Digressing again so on I go.

I got set up and sterilized the big turkey roaster, I have found it is the best cheese maker ever. I can control the heat at a more constant lower heat, as needed with cheese and it is a 20 quart container, total win win. I added the spoons, thermometer, tongs and strainer, to get all good and sterile. I let them cook about 10 minutes and drained off the water, removed the utensils to a clean sterile board. I add the milk, culture and strong lipase, you can make feta without the lipase but it doesn't have nice flavor if you do, good feta is not vegetarian, as lipase comes from a stomach part from a baby goat or lamb.  I then allowed the batch to heat up to 88 degrees slowly over the course of an hour, at the end of an hour when all is to the proper heat, where it needs to be held at for the rest of the processes. I added the rennet, I prefer good animal rennet, again derived from stomach of newborn goat or this time calf. I mixed it 20 to 1 in a half cup of warm water, about 1/2 teaspoon. I quickly stirred it in for about 15 seconds. I when let it set cover in the roaster for 40 minutes.

Mokie and kids came in at this point in the process, she wanted to got get mushrooms in the woods if Poppie would watch Cubbie and Boy. Poppie agreed that he would but he would have to pick the kids up from school by 3:30. I told her that my cheese would not be done to ball stage until around 1 so we couldn't got until then. She visited for a short time, took the kids home so I could continue and she would come back and we could got then.

The milk had nicely curded in the 40 minutes, good break, so I was ready to cut curd. I took my long knife and slice ever 1/4 inch across one way then the other, I then tipped the long knife at a 45 degree angle and cut across all the cuts again and then on all sides of the roaster. I let the curd set undisturbed 15 minutes. Check my email, and came back to stir the curd gentle. I do 3 sets of 15 minutes which cooks the curd, not with heat really but time at the same heat to firm it up a little. If when stirring I came across a curd that was to big I cut it down. The curd was all cooked and looked great so I spooned and strained it into the waiting, cheese cloth lined bowl to hang from my curd hook to drain for the next couple hours, the hours Mokie and I were going to go mushroom hunting.

Mokie and I loaded a couple 5 gallon buckets, Boy's wagon, a small hatchet and we were off up the creek about 3 miles from the house. We got to the sight, parked the pickup at a kelly humped road and walked down the old abandoned road to the creek bed. The brush was pretty high and thick so it was kind of hard to pull the little wagon in, we took it in quite a ways but finally parked it and carried the bucket in. Shortly after getting in the right spot we started spying our quarry. We were looking for conk, the common local name for the fungi, They are sometimes called artist mushrooms, and used in medical applications. I have a friend, another crazy goat lady, that her with her husband make a living selling herbal teas, salves, and other herbal applications. They do well and have a budding nation wide business. Mokie and I sell the mushroom to them. I will speak of her again in the future, we are getting a new buckling from her, so I will call her, Herbalist.

Mokie and I were having good luck, went to where we would have to cross the creek on the one side went back and checked to other side of the old road until it was time to return home so Poppie could go get the girls, he also picks up the grand kids and drops them at their home. When we dumped the buckets in the wagon it was full so we had had a good harvest. Poppie thought we had done a good job, he wasn't happy that I had thorn scratches up and down my legs though. He told us the Daughter had called and she had to take Eldest to the hospital as they are burning slash piles next to the school to prepare a site to build a new hospital. The ER said that the old folks, in the nursing home, were having the same problem. Eldest will have to stay home the next few days.

We returned home in time to unload the mushrooms, Poppie was proud of our harvest. We put them by the fire to dry. I turned over the curd ball to make it more uniform for cutting and salting after it set over night. Cubbie and Boy had been good and Poppie had a good time with them, they were both napping so some one wore some one out. All in all a nice productive day..... tomorrow.

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