Sunday, August 26, 2007

Canning fun

I'm wrapping up an industrious weekend of food preservation, and though I didn't get to everything I'd hoped, I'm in no rush. I canned raspberry jam (thanks to the Benke family for the beautiful berries), peach preserves, peach salsa, and whole tomatoes. I made and froze basil pesto, and also got a few bags of grated zucchini and swiss chard put away in the freezer. Trying out my new food dehydrator was a highlight, with dried tomatoes, peaches and peach fruit leathers now in jars. Two wonderful new La Puente volunteers, Tavia and Katie, helped with harvesting basketfuls of calendula and chamomile flowers from the garden, which will make wonderful medicines. Most of the flowers will be dried to use in infused oils, teas, balms, and other creations. Today a half-gallon of raw Naomi milk became about one pound of delicate, soft lemon cheese (see recipe below) to spread over crackers and breads, with the help of my good friend Andrew who is also interested in learning to make cheese. Naomi is a beautiful cow who lives at El Sagrado Farm. As a part of our CSA (community supported agriculture) crop share, we also get a half gallon of raw milk weekly. The raw milk is amazing and full of good stuff that the pasteurizing process removes, and can be made into delicious cheese. I've only just begun experimenting with making cheese...I'll practice soft cheeses for a while before moving on to hard ones. Next on the list of cheeses to make is cottage cheese, and then mozzarella. During the process of making cheese, the curds are separated from the whey. As the whey drained off of our lemon cheese today, I reserved enough to use in baking some bread, and the result is fresh out of the oven as I type...Italian feather bread with whey. It's a delicious 'whey' (sorry for the horrible pun, but I couldn't resist) to wind down the weekend.Making lemon cheese is very easy, you just need 1/2 gallon of whole milk (pasteurized is alright, but not ultra-pasteurized), the juice from 2-3 lemons, and optional cheese salt and/or herbs of your choice. 1. Heat the milk in a large pot to 185-200 degrees F. 2. Add the lemon juice (around 1/4 cup) and stir well. 3. Cover and let the milk set for around 15 minutes, or until there is a clear separation of curds and whey. If the milk has not yet set, add a little more lemon juice until it does. 4. Pour the curds into a colander lined with cheese cloth or even better, butter muslin, tie the corners in a knot and let drain for 1-2 hours. 5. Remove the cheese from the bag, add salt and herbs to taste, and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. - recipe is from Ricki Carroll's book Home Cheese Making (see link below)



Blogger Erin said...

Allison! Love the blog.

I told my grandparents that certain conscientious people in my generation are getting into things like locally grown food and canning, and they were VERY excited. (My Grandma loves gardening and canning and she's been doing it for years - they even have a special canning room.) She wanted to know what you were canning :). I think you've single-handedly given them hope for the next generation!

8/31/2007 03:43:00 PM  

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