Gossamer Tapestry

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's the Milk, Stupid

I just finished another batch of Camembert. I've now done enough of these to know that they are consistently coming out well. Some of my earliest efforts were delicious and developed the surface mold well- but the interior was excessively runny, sometimes to the point of being nearly liquid. My more recent efforts have been especially successful.

The improvements that I have enjoyed recently are clearly a result of the milk I've been using. Friend, fellow blogger, and tea connoisseur extraordinaire UrSpo sometimes refers to especially high end tea as being made from tender young leaves plucked by virgins at 3 AM by the light of the full moon. My current milk supply has a similar feel to it. It's raw milk- whole milk that has been neither Pasteurized nor homogenized. The cream rises to the top of the containers that it's stored in. The dairy cattle are Gurnsey Guernsey cows that are raised organically on an Amish farm in Wisconsin (I need to determine if saying organic is redundant if you identify the farm as Amish).

Most store-bought milk is from Holsteins. Gurnsey Guernsey milk has a much higher butterfat content that Holstein milk, and gives the cheese a particularly rich texture, flavor, and yellow color. I noticed one other difference when I made my most recent cheese. The whey is less clear than I am used to. Sometimes this can mean poor separation of curds and whey, but the curds were excellent this time.

With my latest batch of Camembert, I learned that the changed appearance of the whey reflects an additional benefit of this milk. By reheating the whey after I've poured it off of the curds, I obtained a very nice yield of ricotta (literally "recooked") cheese. I'm so happy to have this new, reliable source of raw milk!



At 10:51, Blogger Ur-spo said...

That is comforting to know.
I believe good ingredients make a difference, and this supports my desire to buy 'quality' as Scott J would say.

At 13:22, Anonymous Mark H said...

And WE STILL HAVE NOT begun our cheese efforts even though we've had the kit since Christmas. We HAVE found the whole milk source, but seems everything is in the way. Maybe you'll have to fly out and give us a REAL lesson.......

At 14:40, Blogger Celeste said...

Ah-hum, Doug I know you speak American and I speak English but I just have to mention - it is Guernsey not Gurnsey! The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British Crown Dependency in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy and that is where the delightful little cows of the same name originated from. :)
Ya'll have a nice day now!!!!

At 01:51, Blogger wcs said...

Bravo for trying, and succeeding, to make real cheese at home! I don't know many people who would attempt it.

I certainly wouldn't, but I live in France and there really is no reason... ;)


At 07:07, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, great that you're making Camembert. How did you get started doing this?

Hope you don't mind that we excerpted your story on theBovine blog: http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/making-camembert-in-chicago-with-raw-milk-from-amish-guernsey-cows/

The fact that Guernsey milk is mostly A2 might be a factor and in any case is certainly a big plus. See this story for details: http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/the-devil-in-the-milk-dr-thomas-cowan-on-how-a2-milk-is-the-answer-to-the-mystery-of-why-even-raw-milk-sometimes-does-not-seem-to-be-enough-of-an-improvement-over-store-bought/

At 07:21, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Spo- Scott taught me everything I know about quality.

Mark- I would love to come out and teach, er, give you guys a lesson some time ;-) I did just learn that I will be back in Portland for work in summer 2010. One of the joys of blogging is meeting new, interesting folks. Unfortunately, most of them tend to be really far away. Hugs to both you and Rodg.

Celeste- Thank yo so much for correcting my spelling of Guernsey. At least I did know that it's a Crown Dependency and one of the Channel Islands.

wcs- Thanks for the delightful comment. It had never occurred to me to wonder this before, but I seriously doubt that I would have started home cheese making if I lived in France. Ooh la la!

thebovine- Welcome to the Tapestry! Thanks so much for the kind comments and for excerpting the story. I'm off to check out your links.

At 19:01, Anonymous Tiina said...

Regarding Celeste's comment, we have a Guernsey cow and a few heifers here in our pasture... delightful, absolutely, but 'little' I'm not so sure about!


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