Cheese Grommit

Paneer curdsThere’s been so much going on here of late that I’ve had little time for updates and record keeping. Between the usual ups and downs of raising a child (teething, sleeping, eating and so forth) and the general round of seasonal illnesses, we have managed to still do a lot in the kitchen.

We’ve recenlty  started to get a regular weekly delivery of raw milk (unpasturised, full cream, fresh from the cow). It’s gorgeous stuff and causes a great deal of excitment around these parts. We are now in full swing making yogurt (I had to buy a second yogurt thermus to keep up with demand), skimming the cream (there just isn’t anything as good as fresh cream with jam on scones – even scones that resemble rocks) and then there is the cheese. We’ve been making some very quick and easy cheeses. Labna a middle eastern yogurt cheese and the the easiest one I’ve come across, and Paneer, an indian cheese. Both cheeses are made with out cultures or rennet.

First thing I do when the milk arrives is to put on the kettle to boil, then I scoop about 2 tablespoons (tbs) of yogurt from the current tub in the fridge (the first batch of our homemade yogurt was produced from a starter from a delicious organic, tub set cream we purchased at the supermarket). I mix this starter with the milk, pop the lid on, file the thermus with boiling water and pop in the container, put on the lid and leave over night. The next day we have fresh yogurt for breakfast on soaked mueslie with preserved fruit or it get’s turned into labna.

To make the labna, you poor the yogurt into a bowl, grind in some salt (to taste and helps to preserve the cheese a little – like butter), stir together until well combined and smooth. Line a sieve with cheese cloth (or fine mesh fabric), place over an empty bowl, poor in yogurt slowly, place in the fridge and let it slowly drain overnight. In the morning you have a delicious “cream cheese” that tastes wonderful on fruit toast (I need to “refil” the same piece of toast for William about 4 times before he finally eats the bread and not just the cheese). They whey (liquid that’s left over in the bowl) is given to my friends chickens. The cheese itself just peels off the cloth. 1ltr of yogurt does about 300gms of cheese.

Easy cheese number 2, or paneer, is simply made by heating the milk to around 80 °C. Remove from the heat and stire in 1 tbs for every ltr acid – lemon/lime juice or vinegar. Do this slowly, about 1 tsp at a time and stir the cheese. You will see it seperating as you go. Once you’ve put in all the acid leave the pot to cool down. While it cools line a sieve with cheese cloth and place it over a bowl. Once the liquid is cool, poor it into the cheese cloth. You will be left with only the curds (solids), gather up the sides of the cheese cloth and squeeze out more liquid. You can now either leave it to hang and drip, or place it in a mold (or if you don’t have anything, leave it in the cheese cloth tied up) and place a weight on top to force out the rest of the liquid. The more liquid you remove, the firmer the cheese. You can either have a sort of cream cheese or a firm cheese that can be used in place of meet or tofu in curries.

Out of the kitchen, we’ve managed to plant 100 tagasaste (Tree Lucern’s) on our block of land at AtamaiTrees

William even came along to help, mostly be behaving himself and having fun playing in his play-pen with the bamboo poles, tree guards and even on occassion his actual toys.

We also got a helping hand from Craig’s sister Fiona and her partner Nick who came to visit over Easter.

So things have been busy and fun

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