My dears, I’ve been neglecting you again. Not through choice you understand and not because there’s nothing going on, but simply cos there’s too darned much going on. Again.
Rightio. Today I’m mainly thinking about dairy as that’s the form that my (oh I don’t have time to go down to the allotment and dig) procrastination has been taking in the main since we visited the Edible Food Show.
After the demo on how easy it was to make cream cheese I was bit by the bug and had been obsessing. So I made butter. Mainly because I had no rennet and I really really wanted to do some dairy! There’s no craft in making it the way I did, but we had a backlog of cream (we get a small carton each week from the milkman) and we were out of butter, so I shoved the cream in the food processor with a plastic blade and turned it on. It did nothing, thickened to a point of near solidity, became more liquid again and then suddenly started to separate. The sound changed, it suddenly sounded like I was whisking up a tennis ball. Then we used the buttermilk on cereal squeezed a bit more liquid out of the butter and added a little salt. It was jolly good.
It doesn’t take me much to get smug and slapdash. I was sufficiently convinced that I’d hear the transformation that I wandered off and left the food processor running too long when I tried it a second time when I wanted some buttermilk. The result was butter blended with buttermilk that wasn’t for separating a second time. We used it as butter – but it tasted more like cream and was inclined to get hard in the fridge (it would have been unthinkable of course, to just chuck it!).
I had wanted the buttermilk to make cream cheese as His Nibs had managed to obtain some Vegeren veggie rennet from 8th Day. Having failed to produce any buttermilk of my own, I ended up buying some cultured buttermilk from a Supermarket – although this has a very different texture and taste. Buttermilk is liquid and tastes a little like tangy creamy milk. Cultured buttermilk looks and feels and (to a large extent) like natural yoghurt.
I’m not sure we got the mix quite right, a pint of cream, a pint of whole milk a couple of tablespoons of cultured buttemilk and a 20 drops of vegetable rennet. We warmed the milk and cream to just above body temperature, added the rennet left covered overnight and then strained the resulting mix all day in a muslin cloth. Really the curds should have been very distinct, but in reality the curds were formed at the top and the rest was more like a thin yoghurt mix – so we strained the whole lot. Nevertheless the result is cream cheese alright! It’s been good on bagels and with finely chopped smoked salmon in a baked potato.
I think we’re still some way off creating Stockport County Blue yet though! Not sure where all this DIY stuff ends either. I’m reminded of a comment on a recipe for yoghurt cheese by straining yoghurt I saw a few weeks back, ‘you don’t make your own yoghurt?’ asks a commenter ‘do you make your own cow?’ replies another.