Aquilegia formosa

time to try the home creamery? February 1, 2010

Filed under: Food,Sustainable — aquilegiaformosa @ 2:06 pm
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Those folks over at Not Dabbling in Normal posted this which discusses making butter and ghee at home. There are also links to the author’s blog, Chiot’s Run with step-by-step how-to guides. The ghee is meant to be a (partial) replacement for non-local olive oil, I believe, but I think it better replaces other vegetable oils like canola, etc, due to the higher smoke point. I wonder if it’s a good choice for deep frying?

The NDiN post also mentions using milk that had soured a bit to make a quick pressed cheese. I love this frugal tip! It makes me think of my grandfather (who grew up in England during the 30’s and 40’s) saying “use it up!”

I’ve been thinking a lot about dairy products lately, as well as the pros and cons of trying raw milk. Many of my favorite sustainable, frugal, local food blogs talk about buying local raw milk. However, these writers are American, and are thus choosing not to use a very different kind of milk than what is sold in Canada. For example, my cousin, who is very into the Slow Food movement, says Canadian milk does not contain antibiotics. I’ve only her word to go on at this point, as I haven’t researched either the Canadian or the American mainstream commercial product, but it’s certainly food for thought. This site from California has some raw milk facts.

The idea of healthy, raw, local milk is somewhat appealing, however, it is illegal(!) to sell it in British Columbia. Home on the Range has a creative solution; interested individuals can buy a “share” in the herd and hire an “agister” (“one who takes care of cattle for a fee”) and then pay a weekly “maintenance” fee. I love the political subversion of this, which is likely more common than just in BC, as the NDiN post mentions doing the same thing in Ohio, as does this Globe and Mail article about an Ontario farm.

One share is $17.50/week for a gallon of milk. That’s $910/year, plus the share price. If I want butter or cream, it’s an additional $8, for 8 or 16 oz., respectively. $8 for half a pound?! That’s at least $8/week, or $416/year, plus extra when I bake, so maybe another $100/year. Right now I pay about $4 to $4.50/lb for conventional butter and less than $3/litre of half and half (10% m.f.) cream. However, since this is about baby-steps, instead of freaking myself out looking at costs per year, I could always start low-key, with a quarter share, for $50 and $5/week for a quart of milk. That’s $260/year, or $22/month.

The jury’s still out on this one, but I think it’s time to give yogurt a try. Maybe also look into soft cheeses, and purchasing the necessary cultures.


cheesemaking January 16, 2010

Filed under: Food,Sustainable — aquilegiaformosa @ 8:28 pm
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I read this post on making farmhouse cheddar over at Suzanne McMinn’s fun and family friendly site, Chickens in the Road earlier this week. Today she posted on waxing the cheese so as to age it. Farmhouse cheese is the fastest hard cheese to make, apparently, and is something I’d love to try to make, especially as I’m becoming hyper aware of all the non-recyclable plastic shrink-wrapped around so much of my food. Suzanne makes hers with store bought milk, so it’s not as difficult to try out as I might once have thought – y’know, back in the days when there were no baby-steps, it was all or nothing and I had to have my own cow, or at least access to local raw milk before I’d look into such a project! In fact, just about a year ago, I was reading about Suzanne learning to make ricotta cheese from milk from her own goat! (of course, she clearly states that your own goat is not required!) This woman is a wealth of information on many old-time skills and crafts. She even wrote a post on how to make your own cheese press. While I know I probably couldn’t make one all by myself (as I don’t have any power tools), I know a few folk who’d kindly help me out 🙂

UPDATED Jan 19th: Suzanne posted about homemade cream cheese for all of those who were intimidated by the making farmhouse cheddar post (the whole cheese press thing is what seemed daunting to me). As well, she reminds us:

“You don’t have to have a cow… Making cheese isn’t an all or nothing proposition. Just because you bought the cream at the store doesn’t mean it’s not homemade cheese. You still have so much more control, both from a health and a taste standpoint, in the end product. You can use less or no salt. You can add your own flavorings using your own home-preserved fruits or herbs.”

Baby steps. Flylady would be proud. So would Bob. 🙂

UPDATED: Jan 30th: El at fast grow the weeds recently posted this about cheesemaking. Lots of good links!