Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad from a second batch of Mozz we made yesterday, olive oil, fresh basil and pepperoncini.

The use of 1/4 tsp Calcium Chloride gave us a better curd.  The block of cheese was 1 lb, 4 oz.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

First Mozzarella

So the first batch of Mozzarella was a success, it stretched the way it is supposed to and was firm, shiny and tasty.

They say that there is nothing like sampling warm fresh cheese, I would concur with that sentiment.

It melted nicely on the pizzas, Marilyn hid the other goodies like red pepper, onion, and kalamata olives under the cheese.

I used regular old grocery store milk, Country Fresh brand.  The curds that developed were small and didn't need to be cut.  I used 1/8 tsp of Calcium Chloride, I'll try 1/4 tsp. next time to see if we get a better curd.

I will need to figure out something to do with all of the whey that is left over.  I saved two quarts.  I'll probably use it in bread.

Next time I'll weigh the finished product before we start sampling it. There was a nice big log of cheese, plenty for the two pizzas with almost half left over.  Most of that has been subsequently eaten.

Overall very satisfying.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The quest for cheese

We bought a cheese making kit the last time we were at the brew store.  It is a kit from 

We find that the type of milk used to make cheese is kind of a big deal.  You can't use anything that is ultra-pasteurized.  They suggest that the best is whole milk that is not homogenized.  This type of milk is available here at Friske's but it is $3.60 per half gallon.

At a local farm I can get unpasteurized raw milk for what works out to $8.30 per gallon after signing a six page contract, paying a contract fee and then a weekly maintenance fee for a "share of a cow" that would get me a gallon a week.  What lengths to get around overreaching government intrusion into what we eat?

Research shows that most grocery store milk will work if you add small amounts of calcium chloride.  Isn't that the same chloride that they put on dirt roads to control dust?  The non-salt ice melter?

It is commonly available in brewing and dairy supply stores.  It is sold in some grocery stores as Pickle Crisp, an ingredient that replaces the liming process used to keep pickles crisp.

No stores in Charlevoix of course.  The nice people at  Eastport Market ordered it up for us and we got it Saturday.

So cheese is next.

Ginger Ale

I'm a big fan of Sandor Katz who wrote Wild Fermentation, in fact his newest book the Art of Fermentation should be here this week.  

I tried his recipe for Ginger Ale some time ago.  It involves creating a "ginger bug" from ginger and sugar dependent on wild yeast from the environment.  I ended up with a sticky mess after several days and lost interest.

We have been looking at making cheese and I discovered Fankhauser's Cheese Page. There are recipes there for both ginger ale and root beer.  The recipe for ginger ale is nearly the same as the Wild Fermentation recipe except that instead of using wild yeast it uses cultured yeast.

I used a cup of sugar, a bit more than a tablespoon and a half of fresh grated ginger, the juice of one fresh squeezed lime and a quarter teaspoon of champagne yeast in two quarts of water.  They use plastic two liter soda bottles.  I used a half gallon glass growler bottle that I got from Tom, in fact I think I have three of those.  I let it ferment under an air lock until the big bubbles stopped, three days I think.  Then I strained and bottled it in two champagne bottles and a beer bottle.  I left them at room temperature for two days.  This morning I opened the little bottle.  I should have chilled it first as I lost almost a quarter of it as it foamed out on the counter and the sink.

It is excellent and super simple.  They say it is less than one percent alcohol.  I need more champagne bottles as I will be making more of this.  In the mean time I will make due with brown long neck beer bottles, also from Tom.

The recipe called for the juice of a lemon but I had a lime which resulted in a very refreshing taste.  Next time I will try a lemon.

UPDATE 1/18 - The new book Art of Fermentation gives a possible cause for the failure to make a "ginger bug" from commercial ginger root.  The book says that ginger root is irradiated to kill any bad bugs.  Likely killing the multitudes of yeasty flora that would normally be present to create a proper "ginger bug".  I have a new batch of ginger ale going using the same 1/4 tsp of champagne yeast. this time with a lemon.  I think it will be great!

Upping the ante on Sake

The Doburoku that I have been making is really more rice wine than Sake in the eyes of Sake aficionados.  Both are made from the four ingredients, water, rice, koji and yeast.  Making true Sake requires more of a ritual in terms of the process.  

With Doburoku you put all of the ingredients together and let it ferment.  With Sake, first you make a starter culture of Koji, yeast, water and rice.  The starter called the Moto is created in a low temperature environment, around fifty degrees Fahrenheit, barely above the yeast's low temperature rating.  Then the starter is added to more Koji and rice that doubles the amount of mash in each of three additions over four days.  The Moto requires about two weeks and the additions and fermentation another three weeks.

Wow, complicated.  I'm really happy with the quality of brew that I get with the "throw it all together" version.  In spite of that I am ready to go to the next phase.  I brought the little refrigerator that used to be in the office in from the barn.  It turns out that at the lowest setting it maintains a temperature right around fifty degrees, perfect.  I had a nice big batch of Kome Koji  that I made last week and a big batch of steamed rice that I made Friday night.  

The result is a big batch of Doburoku fermenting in the cold closet and a double batch of Moto fermenting in the little fridge.  I figure if it is going to take two weeks to make the Moto, I might as well double it so I can run two batches once it is ready.

It should be interesting.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Sake and mushrooms

The last batch of Sake went into cold ferment in the last days of November.  It was very cold up there in the guest bedroom, hovering in the low fifties.  The clean laundry piled up according to color on the guest bed keeping watch.  Each day a vigorous stir of the mash to add Oh-two to the mix to keep the ferment healthy.  A faint smell of alcohol / Koji in the air (and the smell of Marilyn's hair spray).

That batch came out a couple of days ago.  The cold ferment and perhaps a reduction in the amount of citric acid applied gives it a very nice flavor, one that calls to me late at night on a Sunday night / Monday morning.

There is another batch of Kome Koji incubating in the chamber (oven with the light on).  I have decided to make batches according to the size of my pressure cooker rather than the size the recipe calls for.  More than double the 400 gram recipe size.

The blue painter's tape icons over the BAKE and LIGHT buttons attempt to control the temperature and prevent the melting of the Koji that occurred a little while back.

Mushrooms: I raised some Shitake mushrooms on logs back in the previous century, way back in '97. We had lots of mushrooms for four or five years, fewer in the latter years.

GC Farms will be trying mushrooms again.  Shitake on logs using plug spawn.  I'll do a couple of burns to create some patches for Black Morels and cut a Beech tree for some fire wood and some oyster mushrooms. I'm thinking sawdust spawn for the oyster mushrooms.

I'll probably get a pressure canner for sterilizing culture media for more 'shrooms and maybe canning some salsa.

It is a weird new year that we enter into.

Do you know what the three percent is?

New years spike

Blogger's stats aren't all that they could be or at least I don't know how to make the best use of them.  If I post on FB or G+ that I have updated the blog, maybe twenty or thirty of my closest friends and family might venture a peek over here.

On the first of the month the views went to more than double that without a new post or any notification?  WTF?  The stats did not reveal (or I don't know how to use them) where that traffic came from.  Hackers I thought, not likely. 

I posted a comment on a Patriot's blog, WireCutter's blog, I think that is what caused the spike. Did you know he is famous:

Anyway, thanks to KL, for introducing me to III%, and those assumed hits to the blog.  I'm spreading the word.

Sake post to follow