Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cheese and Dragonflies

Hey, it’s an interesting combination- don’t knock it untill you’ve tried it. I’ve been pretty busy at work lately and haven’t had much time to blog. So I missed posting on a couple of things from Memorial Day weekend.

A couple of months ago, I made my first cheddar cheese. These should age from 2 to 6 months before being eaten. I was thinking about trying to be patient and age it for longer, but then I realized that if it hadn’t worked out well, I’d have invested mych more time before being able to make alterations. I’m glad I tried it. The flavor was good, though not as sharp as I’d like. That part was expected. Sharpness develops with age, and I knew I was sacrificing that for quicker feedback.

The texture left a lot to be desired. The cheddar was way to dry and crumbly. Now, I know that a cheddar, particularly a well-aged one, is supposed to be crumbly, but this was too much too soon. The troubleshooting section in my cheesemaking book said that this could be the result of handling the curds too vigorously. Since it was raining the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, I made a second cheddar, taking this into consideration. For now, the two-month aging timetable (or perhaps even a little less) seems about right until this is worked out.

Monroe County, Wisconsin

The next day, I took off for west-central Wisconsin for a little collecting. I had a specific quarry in mind: the Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle (Cicendela patruela), a subspecies endemic to that part of the state. Alas, I was not to find it. But I had a great time collecting and got to see a dragonfly species new to me: the Chalk-fronted Corporal (Libellula julia). It even posed for me.

Chalk-fronted Corporal

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At 10:36, Blogger robin andrea said...

I think it is very impressive that you make your own cheese. I don't know why I've never considered doing that. I'll have to check your old posts to see how you do it, and which recipes you use. It's a great idea.

How cool that you saw a new-to-you species of dragonfly. The dragonflies have been out here, too. They don't pose for me. I did see a nice red one flying by the other day. I wish I could download what my eyes see!

At 16:10, Anonymous Mark H said...

I think you told us your keeping your cheddar just "in the garage" for the aging.... HOW serious does that instruction that "keeping it around 50 degrees for those six months" ??? the ONLY place I can think we could put this would be in the garage fridge which is about 38-40....would that be tolerable for aging? WE had a crumbly mozarella so think your over-working tip will be remembered here. THANKS for the CHEEZY update.

At 19:51, Anonymous Lemuel said...

The cheese look wonderful - despite the crumbly texture. Actually one major manufacturer is marketing crumbly cheese. You're already ahead of the curve!

At 23:59, Blogger Ur-spo said...

that the cheese came out halfway decent is a great thing for a first timer, no? There will be other cheeses!
Can I request a Gouda or Edam?

At 05:52, Anonymous rcwbiologist said...

This cheese making thing sounds fun. We are avid cooks, but like Robin, have never thought of making our own cheese. I think I may have to look into this further. Thanks for sharing this.

At 07:20, Blogger BentonQuest said...

So, do you aspire to Velveeta? (I could be sent to hell for that one!)

At 08:15, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Robin and RCW- I've been experimenting with cheesemaking for almost a year now. About as long as I've been blogging. It's fun. To get the real skinny on how it's done, where to buy supplies, and recipes, check out New England Cheesemaking Supply. http://www.cheesemaking.com/

Mark- My cheese "cave" is in an unheated part of my basement. That worked well over the winter, but it's getting too warm down there now. I'm going to fire up an old bar fridge to use for aging. I can set it in the 50-55 range and it should work out fine.

Lemuel- Interesting. I still want to learn how to make non-crumbly cheese.

Spo- I made a Gouda just a few weeks ago. It's aging in the cellar now. If it turns out OK, I'll try to remember to bring some of it with me when I head to AZ next month.

Benton- Velveeta is its own Hell.

At 17:45, Blogger rodger said...

Mmmm...that looks tasty! The cheese, not the dragonfly.

I'm going to find the fuse for an electric cooler we have and see if it will keep the correct temperature for aging. If so...we're going to attempt a cheddar. I've been procrastinating finding a 50 pound weight but have decided to make the cheese then I'll be forced to find the weight.


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