The Weston A. Price Way

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easy Cheesy, Weezy!

It really is, you know. Easy, I mean. And cheesy, too.

And nice and probiotic-ky, too.

It's yogurt cheese. Or kefir cheese. You can make it from your home-made yogurt or store-bought yogurt. You can make it from your home-made kefir or store-bought kefir.

Collecting the whey.
One of the magnificent things about it is the lack of waste. There is none. In the process of making this tangy cream cheese, you get a wonderfully nourishing by-product, whey. You need whey for your beet kvass. You can use it in your bread-making. It's excellent for soaking grains and making fermented condiments. If you collect a lot, it can be used to make ricotta cheese before you water your plants with what's left. Whey is full of protein and because of this and it's tangy flavor, some drink it straight. The traditional kitchen will always have whey around. Whey is good.

If it sounds as if I oversimplify, there's a reason for that...It's simple. You could probably figure it out just by the pictures, but I'll add a little verbiage to go along with them.

The photo to the left is my fancy-schmancy whey-dripping machine. You don't need one, and I'll tell you how to do this without it, but this has been mighty convenient. The stainless steel rods screw into a circular rod. The muslin bag hangs from that, with a drawstring to tighten it. The ends of the rods are curved to fit the top edge of a bowl. I found mine at a Mennonite store near Charlottesville, VA.

Pouring home-made yogurt
into the muslin bag on my
'cheese-making contraption'.
Ok, here comes the hard part...Pour your yogurt or kefir into the bag. Well, no, that's not really the hard part.

Now you have to wait...Usually until the next day. Don't worry, it won't spoil...neither the cheese nor the whey. I know. It's hard to wait, but you must. If you want stiffer cheese for shaping, you have to wait another day...or as many as three.

Plain cream cheese.
Once the wait is over, put the cheese into a container and have it on a cracker with jam at tea time...or simply on toast for breakfast. Nothing like a little probiotic power to get you through 'til dinner...or start your day.

You'll know it's ready when it's at the consistency you like. The taste will be quite tangy at first...much more so than processed cream cheese. That's because real food has real taste. However, if you aren't ready for such a leap of taste, put the cheese in the fridge for about a week, if you taste test it daily, you'll find it mellows with age. If you make it from your homemade yogurt, the amount of twang will depend on how long you cultured your yogurt. Yogurt cultured for shorter amounts of time has less tongue-slap to it and therefore, gives a milder cheese. (I moan over homemade is so different than even the best yogurts I've found in the stores.)

So, if you don't have the same contraption as I for your cheese-making, what to do?

Get out your colander...preferably plastic because whenever you mess around w/enzymes and stuff like that, you run the chance of metal interaction and things can come out tasting a little metallic. Also, if you are working with cultures, it can damage the culture. With yogurt and kefir, we're working with cultures, so try to use a plastic colander.

Also, get out the deepest bowl you own. It needs to be deep enough that the bottom of the colander doesn't sit low in it...You don't want the colander's bottom submerged in the whey.

You can line the colander with two layers of cheesecloth, (No, one layer is not enough-the cheese will fall through it when you go to take it out.) Another choice is a tea towel. I have used the typical terry, but the cheese sticks to it quite a bit when you go to take it out, so there's some waste in that. The best type to use is the type that's used for drying fine crystal...'dust free', I think they call it. Or even a piece of linen. DON'T use something with color unless it's been washed, like a hundred times. You don't want the red in your towel's apple to become the red in your cheese. (Um, I speak from experience, here.) I have also found a cloth table napkin to be excellent. The bits of cheese that are left, by the way, rinse right out of the napkin and never have left any stain in anything I've used.

When your colander is lined, place the yogurt/kefir smack dab in the middle. Remember to pull the ends up and just gently lay them over the yogurt/kefir. When it dries a bit...several hours later...take the ends and tie them around a long handled wood or plastic 'hobo baggage'. Now, place the spoon across the top of the deep bowl where your whey has been gathering and let it continue to drip its little heart out. When it's at the consistency you like, it's ready.

You can leave it as is and store it, or you can add herbs...a little can mean a lot...or jam, or honey, or spices, or...whatever you like.
Herbed cream cheese.
Finally, pour the whey into a glass jar with a good lid. I like to use mason-type jars. It will keep a very long time, I'm told. I can't exactly say how long because I always use mine up within a few weeks. Whey is full of life, however, so I suppose eventually, even it must die...but my guess is that it would first live to a very ripe old age.

Here's to happy, healthy cheesing...and living a little by playing with food!

No comments:

Post a Comment