When you come home from a successful hunt, are you already thinking about how you’re going to prepare the meat? Generally speaking, you’ve got some decisions to make. What cuts of meat do you want? How much to grind? Do you plan to store it all in the freezer? Or are you going to preserve it using other methods: canning, smoking, fermenting, or dry curing?
To me, most of the good stuff with cheese happens during aging. Flavors are enhanced and deliciousness ensues. The problem for the home cheesemaker, however, is that instructions are usually far more detailed for the actual cheesemaking part of the recipe. It’s harder to come by in-depth instructions for aging your cheese. I’ve been making cheese for a few years now, and I want to share with you some things I’ve learned. Specifically, here are three things I wish I had known about aging cheese when I first started out.
This one is easy. And surprising.
These pickle pastrami bites are made with just three ingredients: pickles, pastrami, and cream cheese. Umm, kind of the simplest thing ever. But you know me. Even if it’s simple, I have to complicate things.
When I was growing up, my mom would make a molasses rye bread that we called “Dorothy’s Bread.” As far back as I can remember, it was the only type of bread that we ever made in the house. If we made bread, it was Dorothy’s Bread. Round loaves, soft and brown with a coating of butter fresh out of the oven. And we would never wait. We’d dig in and eat half a loaf of bread in one sitting, covering it with butter and filling up on pillowy soft bread goodness.
It always bothered me as a home cheesemaker that there wasn’t an easier way to control temperature and humidity for my aging cheeses. I don’t live in the countryside with a built-in cheese cave. I can’t dig a root cellar on my property. I don’t even have a basement. When I decided I wanted to age cheeses, I needed to find a way to keep them cool (but not refrigerator-cold) and increase humidity so they didn’t dry out.
Then, a couple years later, after we had been making fresh sausages successfully, James and I wanted to add salami to our repertoire. But what we had cobbled together for aging cheeses wasn’t exactly ideal for drying sausages. As we started to research what we would need, we realized to what lengths individuals were going to create their own curing chambers. I am terribly un-inclined when it comes to mechanics, and the thought of constructing one of these chambers on my own intimidated me.
Thankfully, I have a husband who (1) isn’t afraid of putting things together and (2) sees business opportunities everywhere he looks.
Just a quick post to let you know that we are live on Kickstarter right now! You can read about our campaign, learn all about the Cave, and order some great prizes. Come check us out!
How does Kickstarter work?
Not familiar with the Kickstarter website? Here’s how Kickstarter works. We put up a product we want to launch, and we raise money by getting pledges from wonderful people like you who are interested in us. Depending on the amount of money that someone pledges, you can choose from different rewards. In our case, we have rewards ranging from ebooks to bacon-making kits to beer steins to our actual product that we are launching: the Cave. We set a goal amount on Kickstarter, and it’s only after we reach our pledge goal (after we get enough pledges) and after our campaign ends that your money is charged.
So come take a look. Be inspired, and imagine all the things you can make once you have a Cave of your own.
I have been reading a book about the history of wine, which suggests that ancient wine-makers produced primarily soured wine. Without modern methods of sanitation or airlocks, our first vinters produced wine tinged with vinegar. (Not exactly the quality that our modern wine aficionados would appreciate. . .)
These days, it would seem like a defect to drink a wine that has soured. Yet today, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m taking soured wine (also known as wine vinegar) and making it drinkable. Why? Well, because it’s surprisingly good.
I’m going to talk today about butterkäse. It’s a German cheese, mild in flavor, soft and smooth in texture, and highly meltable. In short, it’s a perfect sandwich cheese. It’s made in Germany and also in Wisconsin where I grew up. And now that I know how to make my own cheese, it’s made wherever I live as well.
It’s easy to feel like there’s not enough time for hobbies or to get the things done that you want to do. With responsibilities to uphold, jobs to go to, children to watch, relationships to nurture . . . that doesn’t always leave time for hobbies or interests. But I’m going to argue that it’s worth it to try to make the time. Hobbies help us to grow as people, and they add “life” to our lives.
So, we made some goat prosciutto. Generally, prosciutto is made from the leg of a pig, but we were looking for something that would cure in a shorter amount of time. Goat leg it was! And the plus was that by de-boning the goat leg, we were able to finish aging the meat in just a month. (Another speedy bonus was that the farmer we bought the goat leg from only had half legs available at the moment . . . It took much less time)
If you already make fresh sausages, you might have a favorite recipe you like to make over and over again. James and I have a few favorites, but if I would have to pick, I might say Ruhlman’s ginger breakfast sausage is my fave. It doesn’t taste anything like breakfast sausage (to me), but it is delicious, and a nice excuse to eat sausage for breakfast.
So I was thinking–if you’re going to make the jump from making fresh sausage to fermented, maybe it might be nice to start out with your favorite recipe. Or maybe you’re just curious what the difference is between the two types of sausage. Either way: I’ve got you covered. Because I’m going to explain how to turn any recipe for a fresh sausage into a fermented one.