Sunday, June 26, 2005


We have way more raw milk than we are using, so I'm looking for other interesting things to do with it.

Yesterday I tried curdling it with vinegar. Warm it up, pour in vinegar, wait a few minutes for it to curdle, strain. The result was like ricotta, but really, really yummy. The whole process took about 20 minutes. I can tell I'm going to do this again.

The only raw milk cheese you can buy in the US is aged 60 days. No soft, raw cheese for you! Unless you make it yourself...

If I'm careful not to overheat the milk, the active cultures remain, so it's even better for you.

I call it "rawcotta".

Saturday, June 11, 2005

raw milk in Seattle

What is Real Milk?: "The source of most commercial milk is the modern Holstein, bred to produce huge quantities of milk three times as much as the old-fashioned cow. She needs special feed and antibiotics to keep her well. Her milk contains high levels of growth hormone from her pituitary gland, even when she is spared the indignities of genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone to push her to the udder limits of milk production."

Real milk:

- is from cows that eat grass, not grain
- is processed cleanly, instead of using pasteurization to make up for the filth
- in not homogonized
- is high in butterfat (yum)

Rules vary by state, but it's hard to get raw milk in most places.

One way to get it is to own your own cow. Most people don't want to be farmers, so you can hire someone else to care for your cow. As the cow owner, you are entitled to the milk from the cow.

We own 2/1000ths of a herd ("2 herd shares"), which entitles us to 2 gallons of raw milk / week.

If we don't drink it all, I make yogurt, which keeps a long time.

It's a bit more expensive than organic milk, but that makes sense. I'm paying a farmer to work even harder to keep my milk clean. Also, it's a small operation, and the farmer is local, so the economy of scale doesn't factor in.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Want to try some?

I want my reader(s) to know that I'd like to share what I make.

If you are in my area (Bellevue, WA), and see anything mentioned here that you're curious about, let me know & I'll set aside a pint jar for you.

My stock changes quickly, but right now I have plenty of:

All that I ask is that you bring the jar + lid back.

hard cider (I hope)

Wild Fermentation has a simple recipie for hard cider.
  • Get a 1gal jug of organic apple cider.
  • Take off the lid.
  • Let it sit at room temperature for 2 weeks.
We had a leftover 1/2gal of organic apple juice, so I thought I'd try to use that. After a few days mold was growing, so I tossed it. (The jug went to the ginger beer.)

I got a fresh jug, opened it, and added 1Tbs of live whey as an innoculant. Just a little something to give it a better chance of turning out well.

I have seen a few bubbles appear on the top, but I'm not sure if much is happening. I'll try it soon.

the ginger beer experiement

I've been trying to get a ginger bug going for a while. I finally got one going & made a batch of natural, fermented ginger soda. I had a 1gal glass apple juice jug to use as a fermentation vessel. I went to mix up ingredients, and on a whim decided to double it.

Yes, I made 2 gallons of ginger soda.

It scaled well. The only part that was really a lot of work was juice lemons. I did it by hand, with only a fork to help me. 5 is my limit. I'll try to find a basic juicer, so that lemons scale, too.

Ingredients: ginger bug (ginger, water, sugar, 1Tbs whey), ginger, lemon, sugar, water.

After putting the mix into the vessels, I put the lids on, but left them loose. As it ferments it generates carbon dioxide. Loose lids lets excess CO2 escape, and also lets it displace the O2 at the top. After a few days I tightend the lids. As the pressure builds, this disolves CO2 in the liquid, making it fizzy.

Tonight I decided to try some. It was fizzy, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and very gingery. (Note to self: use less ginger for wider appeal). I like it, and I bet ginger lovers will like it, too.

What I've made here is basically soda, but it's good for you (organic ingredients, ginger, lactobaccilus) unlike commercial soda (corn syrup, high glycemic index, carmel color, processed flavors, caffine, and no nutrients of any kind).

kombucha after mold

After the kombucha mold issue, I did some research to see what I could do about that.

It turns out that trying to keep things really clean (or even sterile!) isn't going to help much. There's a lot of mold spores everywhere, all the time. Not much chance of keeping it away.

However, you can do a lot to make things unfriendly for molds. They don't grow on really acidic stuff. So the trick with kombucha is to drop the pH as quickly as possible.

Remember that when you make kombucha, it goes like this:
1. Brew strong, sweet tea
2. Cool to body temperature
3. Add a peice of a kombucha "mushroom" and 10-20% fresh kombucha from a previous batch.

The "mushroom" (pancake, sponge, SCOBY, whatever) has the most cultures in it. The previous kombucha is primarily to lower the pH.

I like my kombucha a little sweet. After 5 days, I find it very yummy. I am trying to limit my sugar intake, so I'm more sensitive to sugar than most people (who drink a lot of cola). That also means I want to let it go a little longer, so the culture removes more sugar. I aim for about 7 days.

(I really should taste it every day until it reaches the tartness I like.)

Anyway, one of the tricks for preventing mold is to use a very acidic starter. Let a batch brew for 15 days and it will be very acidic. Hard for most people to drink, but a good substitue for vinegar on a salad.

So I started up 2 batches:
  • A large batch (3qts of kombucha in a 4qt bowl). Used distilled vinegar to help lower the pH. After 7 days, drank it & started a new batch.
  • A small batch (1qt in a 2qt bowl). Let it go a long time to lower the pH. Will use this for starters only, not for drinking.
Last night I harvested the 2nd batch from the large bowl, and was getting ready to use the small bowl to start a new large batch. All was going according to my sinister plan, until the hot water cracked the bowl. It was ruined.

Hopefully I'll find a replacement at the thrifts store. Even better, I'll find 2-3 good bowls, and be able to make enough kombucha to share with friends.

lots of yogurt

Yogurt. I make it every couple days. We're not drinking all the milk, and I hate to see it sour. Yogurt keeps well (one my best batches I finished after a month, and it was still great). You can eat it plain, put it on savory foods (soup, meat, etc.), or add jam for a desert.

I have a bad habit of eating an unhealthy snack (muffin, cookie, danish, etc.) mid-afternoon. I'm too hungry to make good eating choices, and there aren't any healthy options around. So I've started taking some yogurt w/ jam to work to be that afternoon snack.

One of the neat things about these homemade ferments is that they scale so well. I typically make 1/2 gal of yogurt at a time. If you buy one of those little yogurts in the store, it's probably 1/2 cup. That means I make 16 servings at a time.

The last batch was really thick. I don't know why it was thick, and the others are drinkable. I won't use pectin or powdered milk; just milk + a Tbs of yogurt as a starter.

Still learning.

beet kvass results

beet kvass. This was interesting. It was quite salty, a bit sour, and very beet-y. The rest of the family didn't like it, but I thought it was OK.

I have finished the first batch (2 quarts), and the second batch is sitting in the fridge. It should keep well.
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