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Monday, November 19, 2012


I went through all my cheese cultures a few days ago.  I finally listed them all in a computer file so when I order again, I won't end up with duplicates.  After 5 years of cheesemaking, you'd think I'd have done that before.  Nah!

freshly drained Gorgonzola
I had so much milk that I had to make cheese again, despite starting to dry off Beatrice.  So, since I made Gorgonzola a few days ago, I thought I'd try Cambozola, a German blue cheese, which is sort of a combination of Camembert and Gorgonzola.

So, the first thing I didn't do was thoroughly read through the recipe, which I found on  Ah, well, I guess I'll know in 3 months whether that was a problem.

Curds are ready
Anyway, I started out with 2 gallons of raw goatmilk, heated it to 82° (because it's goat milk) and added 1/4 tsp of Flora Danica. Then I added rehydrated Penicillium candidum and Penicillium roqueforti.  That's the part I'm wondering about.  The recipe said to add the P. candidum and then sprinkle the P. roqueforti over the curds later.  Since I had just made Gorgonzola and the P. roqueforti gets added to the milk, get the picture. 

Cambozola in the making
Then I added the rennet--and it didn't set properly, took much longer than it should have.  I finally cut the curds and, following the recipe by this time, drained it in a colander lined with cheesecloth. After a half hour, I ladled it into two Camembert molds, flipped them a few times over the next several hours, and voilà!  two Cambozolas!  They're still in their molds, and will be until tomorrow morning, but I'm looking forward to seeing if they turn out better this time than the last time I tried, last year.

That cheese tasted pretty good, but it was a much drier cheese than it was supposed to be.  I'm not even sure it could be called a Cambozola, because I think I pressed it. I've improved over the past year.  Most of my cheeses actually look and taste like they're supposed to. That's progress!

Henry Milker again

I've been seriously considering getting a milking machine.  Another goat addict has a surge milker she'll let me use, but I have to find a vacuum pump.  Finding one is not a problem; finding one I can afford is a bit harder.

It's getting on in the year and as usual, my hands are feeling the strain of hand milking.  I'd put away my Henry Milker, since I didn't like the effects it was having on Beatrice's udder.  Today I found it, and wondered whether I could reverse Bea's milk production and start using it again.  She's on once a day milking now, and is giving only 4-5 pounds a day, a little over half a gallon.  As I looked at the teat cup, though, my misgivings returned.  If I can just find a way to make a soft gasket for the top of the teat cup, I might try it again.  Until I do that, I don't want to risk it.  The Henry Milker pulls her teats into the teat cup, but more than that, it pulls part of the mammary tissue as well, so one side of her udder is damaged.  So far, I haven't found that way. I even emailed Mike Henry to see if he had any ideas, but I never heard from him.

I think it's time to get just bite the bullet (sigh...) and buy the vacuum pump.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Camembert success

I had a devil of a time trying to keep the humidity high enough and the temperature low enough for these cheeses that I made a month ago.  I finally just put them in plastic Ziplock bags and left them in the refrigerator, turning them every day, and wondered when they'd be ready.

 I've read conflicting advice about how long to age Camembert, going from 3 weeks to 7 or 8 weeks.  Today I opened up the bags and took a look.  One smelled a bit like ammonia. Not overpowering, but faintly.  The other smelled divine.  I decided to let them come to room temperature to see if the ammonia smell dispelled.  After an hour, my curiosity got the best of me and I sliced into the ammoniated one.  It didn't taste half bad!  In fact, it tasted pretty good, and it looked to be ripening well.  I don't like Camembert when it gets runny and strong, so this was just right:  the outside was soft and pliable, the middle firm. 

I wondered about the second one.  As I put it down, I noticed that it, too, was getting soft on the outside.  A small piece was hanging off, so I picked it off and tasted it.  This one is even better. Yum!

Tomorrow I'm having lunch with some friends.  We're all supposed to bring something to go with the salad.  I think I'll bring feta--and Camembert.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I am SO ready for Ike to leave.  I never realized how brainless bucks become during the rutting season.  My doe goats (two Saanens and a Sable) are all bred, and he will be going visiting for a few weeks, and then I hope he’s sold.  Having a buck goat around can sometimes be trying.  When he’s in his stall at night, he’s constantly jumping up on the door and the side wall to see the does, or jumping up onto the feeder and then down onto the platform that I put in there (goats like to climb).  The noise is jarring to one’s senses, at best.  I actually had to reinforce the wall by the stall door and move the pallet platform, because he was throwing himself at the wall, trying to jump over.  When one of the 2 x 8’s came down from the wall, I moved the platform so he couldn’t get a running leap.  Whew!  Breeding season is hard on bucks.  They forget to eat, drink, and are just plain crazy and unable to relax until the lights all go out at night.

One of my Silkie hens hatched two late chicks.  I thought they might not make it, but they’re fully feathered now (fast!) and seem to be doing fine.  Silkies are pretty cute once you get used to them, but I admit that I didn’t always think so.  My terrier, bless her cotton-picking little hunter heart, got two of my hens and my old rooster.  I found the hens the same day I found a Partridge colored cockerel to replace the other one.  I got him anyway, so now I have two hens and one young rooster.  Hopefully I’ll have more Silkies in the spring.

The chicks are crossbreds from the Silver Laced Wyandotte cockerel that went into the freezer lately, because I couldn’t find a home for him.  I do hope both of the chicks are hens so it’ll be easier to place them.  Since I rarely eat meat, it tends to stay in the freezer for far too long.  Thank goodness for vacuum wrapping to keep them from freezer burn.  

I planted kale and some winter greens in my little 8' x 12' greenhouse, built by my son early last spring..  With a bit of floating row covers,  the greens for cooking and salad surviving the hard frosts we've had.  I'd like to have greens for most of the winter, though I doubt they'll make it through January and February.  Still, I'm hopeful.  They’re growing slowly, but they’re definitely coming along, and I check on them daily, casting an eager eye.  

Elections are coming up on Tuesday, and I fear the state of the country and the world won’t improve, no matter who gets in.  I think we’ve been given the option to vote for the lesser of two evils for far too long now.  I’ll write in my choice, which is neither of the two major parties.  And for local elections, I’ll look for the one that will get government out of my face the fastest.   Probably on the state and local level, we still have some semblance of control, but sometimes I wonder if even that is illusion.
I just finished making my first real Gruyere cheese, and wouldn’t you know?  I got the culture ripening time wrong.  It was supposed to set for only 10 minutes, and I left it for an hour.  I don’t think that’ll mess up the cheese, but I’ll know in about 5 months.  In the meantime, I’ll be cutting into a Münster and a Cotswold, because they don’t take quite as long.