Monday, May 31, 2010

Following Our Followers #2

Steve Kamp
Beecher, IL

We would like to know more about all the "followers" of our blog.  So, we're always happy to do an interview when we get the chance.  Many thanks to Steve for taking the time to answer our questions.  This is the second of what we hope will be a long series. 




Can you tell us about yourself?

I live on a 5 acre farm  outside of a town named Beecher, Illinois.  It's quite a beautiful place. The big White farm house was built in 1866.  I have two lovely teen age daughters, one of whom is graduating from high school this year (where did all that time go, sigh).  I also have another young lady who I consider my daughter who is in college that lives with us.

The rest of the family looks like this: One black Lab named Rex, three cats named Chubs, Frankenstein and King Kong, two retired race horses named Toy and Uncle Merf (you can see Uncle Merf race on youtube if you search his name), one goat named Mallory, three old laying hens and twenty eight chicks who are about a month away from laying and one cockatiel named Taco that I found at a Taco Bell drive up.  I run a small industrial laundry in Chicago.  I am also a home beer and wine maker.






You have a goat?

Yes, that is Mal the goat.  She is a complete flying nut job!  The first goat I had came with my horses.  That goat was really mellow and cool but ended up with a hip problem and I had to put her down.

Mal and I really did not start off too well.  She is completely full of mischief and kept escaping.  She ate all of my pine trees, would run next door and pester the neighbors (their kids love her though), and chase strangers down the road.  I've since put an extra electric wire on my fence and she can't escape anymore.

She really does love to play though.  She runs and flips in the air when there are people around.  we also take her for hikes without a leash and she does really good with that.  She's a sweet goat but full of energy.

Mal is a Nanny but I don't have a buck so it's hard to keep her pregnant so we have not milked her.
What made you decide to make cheese?

I love cheese!  In summers passed my daughters and I would take wandering vacations through Wisconsin.  We would drive on whatever road we felt like with no real destination.  We would stop at every brewery and cheese factory that we saw for a tour.  Needless to say we had a blast!

One of my favorite destinations is Monroe, Wisconsin in Green county.  There is a heavy Swiss influence there and many cheese factories.  My favorite is Roth Kase cheese company.  Plus, I eat a lot of cheese!

I've been a home brewer for twenty seven years and have always dreamed of brewing beer commercially.  I have a new dream now which includes a Belgian style Farmhouse brewery/Cheese factory.  For right now it's just a dream but I am serious about going further with it.

I am of Dutch decent and remember when I was little my Mom and Dad would get this wonderful Dutch caraway cheese that in those days, was only available from Holland.  I recently did a search and found a cheese factory in Thorp, Wisconsin named Holland's Family Cheese that makes the Dutch cheeses here.  That really inspired me and I thought, "Hey, I live on a farm, maybe I can use this place for more than I am now". 
 
 

What was the first cheese you tried?

My first cheese was a mozzarella.  I could not believe how easy that was!  My second cheese was ricotta.  I used both the mozzarella and ricotta to make lasagna for my girlfriend's birthday.  It was amazing!



My next cheese will be a farmhouse cheddar.  I planned and constructed a cheese press and have finally finished it.  I am very interested in harder cheeses such as Gouda and Emanthaler.  Those are probably my favorites, but I love them all.






Any tips for others starting out?

Don't fear the cheese!  If you follow directions it is really very simple!
 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Setting Up a Cheese Making Room

You may already know Noah and Sue Goddard from their forums about raising goats and making cheese.  Their BASIC CHEESEMAKING forum is very active and you may find it helpful- especially if you are raising your own dairy goats and making cheese with the milk.  To sign up, go to:  BASICCHEESEMAKING@yahoogroups.com

We thought this article would be interesting to any of you who are thinking about setting up a cheesemaking space.  Noah and Sue were kind enough to let us share it with you:

 

CHEESE ROOM  2008 - 2009

MVC-013S.jpg

THIS IS OUR WELCOME SIGN ABOVE THE DECK TO THE RIGHT OF THE DOUBLE  DOOR ENTRANCE ON THE WEST SIDE OF OUR NEW BARN THAT LEADS TO THE CHEESE MAKING AREA.

MVC-007S.jpg SUE IS TAKING A BREAK FROM MAKING CHEESE TO ADMIRE HER NEW DECK AND AWNING.   Summer 2009 MVC-001S - bathroom including shower.jpg

THIS IS THE FULL BATHROOM INCLUDING A SHOWER WHICH IS LOCATED TO THE RIGHT OF THE WALL IN THIS PICTURE.  LIKE THE MILK PARLOR, THE BATHROOM IS FINISHED WITH THE SHEETROCK AND MARLITE COMBINATION FOR EASY CLEANING.

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THIS IS THE 40-GALLON WATER HEATER SEPARATED FROM THE REST OF THE CHEESE ROOM BY A SOLID DOOR AS REQUIRED BY BOTH BUILDNG CODE AND DAIRY DIVISION REGULATIONS.   THE WATER HEATER AREA ALSO HAS ITS OWN FLOOR DRAIN.

MVC-003S - Looking south east - cheese room to parlor.jpg

THIS AREA LEADS FROM THE CHEESE ROOM INTO THE MILKING PARLOR.   NOTICE THE STAINLESS STEEL HAND SINK AND THE HOT AND COLD FAUCETS TO THE RIGHT OF THE SINK.   THE  CHEESE AND MILK PROCESSING ROOM ARE SEPARATED BY SOLID DOORS AS REQUIRED BY DAIRY DIVISION REGULATIONS.   THE INTERIOR OF THE CHEESE PROCESSING ROOM HAS THE SAME SHEETROCK AND MARLITE COMBINATION AS THE PARLOR TO PERMIT WASH DOWN AND EASIER CLEANING.

MVC-004S - stainless steel sink.jpg

A LARGE THREE-PART STAINLESS STEEL SINK REQUIRED BY DAIRY DIVISION REGULATIONS, WITH DRAIN BOARDS ON EACH END.   WE HAVE PLENTY OF ARTIFICIAL LIGHTING AS WELL AS NATURAL LIGHTING THROUGH THE WINDOWS.

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THE REFRIGERATOR SITS ALONG THE SOUTH WALL OF THE CHEESE MAKING ROOM AND HAS BEEN RELOCATED TO THE NORTH SIDE OF THE ROOM TO ACCOMODATE THE PASTEURIZER AND OTHER EQUIPMENT.

MVC-009S - 3-part sink & work table.jpg

THE STAINLESS STEEL WORK TABLE SITS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM BUT HAS BEEN REPOSITIONED 3 FEET TO THE NORTH TO MAKE MORE ROOM FOR THE PASTEURIZER AND CHILLER TANK.   THE BLACK OBJECT ABOVE THE CENTER OF THE TABLE IS A POWER CORD EXTENDING DOWN FROM THE CEILING TO POWER THE HOT PLATE AND DIGITAL SCALE, ETC. 
  
Frank & Mary MVC-001S.jpg

FRANK AND MARY KIPE
MICRODAIRY DESIGNS, LLC 
13339 SMITHSBURG PIKE
 SMITHSBURG, MARYLAND 21783
AT OUR FARM TO INSTALL OUR
PASTEURIZER AND CHILLER TANK.
 AN IN DEPTH TUTORIAL, DETAILED STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTION MANUAL AND SUPPLEMENTAL VIDEOTAPE COVERING ALL ASPECTS OF OPERATION ARE PROVIDED WITH THE PURCHASE AND INSTALLATION.
THEY CAN BE CONTACTED AT
frank@kipe.com
or
301-824-3689  (cell) 301-988-2388
====================
cheese vat MVC-007S.jpg A 22-GALLON CHEESE VAT IS SEEN IN THE FOREGROUND.  THE PASTEURIZER WITH DUAL HEATERS IS IN THE BACKGROUND. Install Pasteurizer MVC-004S.jpg

FRANK IS CONNECTING WIRING TO THE DUAL HEATER ELEMENTS WHILE MARY PREPARES A CHEESE VAT.
MVC-009S.jpg

THIS IS THE WEST ENTRANCE TO OUR NEWLY CONSTRUCTED DAIRY PARLOR AND CHEESE MAKING FACILITY WITH A 9 FOOT BY 24 FOOT AWNING COVERING THE DECK AND DOUBLE DOORS.   OUR WELCOME SIGN IS IN THE DISTANCE.
 IT WILL BE SPRING NOW BEFORE WE GET GRASS PLANTED.

New Dairy Barn - Looking East - MVC-002S.jpg THIS IS THE WEST ENTRANCE TO OUR NEWLY CONSTRUCTED DAIRY PARLOR AND CHEESE MAKING FACILITY  AFTER THE BLIZZARD, DECEMBER 25, 2009. 
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EVERYTHING IS STAINLESS STEEL- TOWEL DISPENSER, SINK, FAUCETS, ETC.

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WE KEEP OUR SWIFT MICROSCOPE STORED IN THE OFFICE / STORE ROOM AREA ALONG WITH MEDICATIONS, VACCINES, SEMEN TANKS, ETC.   IT  IS ON A WORK TABLE WITH ROLLERS SO THAT WE CAN MOVE IT EASILY INTO THE PARLOR WHEN NEEDED.
  ATTACHING WALL BRACKETS FOR THE AIR SPACE HEATER AND THERMOMETERS.  Pump and bottler on chilling tank MVC-012S.jpg

INSTALLATION CONTINUES.   THE BOTTLE CAPPER AND PUMP SIT ON TOP OF THE CHILLER TANK TO THE RIGHT OF THE PASTEURIZER.

  Mounting wall brackets - dual heaters MVC-015S.jpg
 MORE WALL BRACKETS TO HOLD THERMOMETERS, PROBE, AIR SPACE HEATER AND OTHER CONTROLS WHEN NOT IN USE. Lid MVC-013S.jpg

FRANK CHECKING THE LID, AGITATOR AND AGITATOR MOTOR TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING FITS WELL.

Thermometers MVC-016S.jpg

INSTALLATION IS COMPLETED.   BRACKETS ON THE SOUTH WALL HOLD THE CHART RECORDER AND PROBE, AIR SPACE HEATER,
PRODUCT AND AIR SPACE THERMOMETERS.  THE WHITE OBJECT ABOVE THE LID IS THE AGITATOR MOTOR.   THE STAINLESS STEEL OBJECT ON THE SIDE OF THE PASTEURIZER IS THE DUAL 220 VOLT HEATER.
A CHEESE VAT IS IN THE FOREGROUND.


Taking a break MVC-018S.jpg

TAKING A BREAK AFTER COMPLETING THE INSTALLATION.

 Chart Recorder MVC-023S.jpg

FRANK EXPLAINING THE OPERATION OF THE CHART RECORDER TO SUE WHILE MARY PREPARES TO DEMONSTRATE THE BOTTLING SYSTEM.

=========================

Current plans are to make cheese, yogurt, sour cream, chocolate milk and fudge with a focus on marketing to restaurants, farmers markets, direct consumer and internet sales.
We will also continue to sell raw ungraded fluid milk here at the farm.
Noah L. and Sue A. Goddard
GODDARD FARM PUREBRED NUBIAN DAIRY GOATS
1801 East 335TH. ROAD
Lecompton, KS 66050-4037
ph: 785-887-6083
alt: 816-804-9532

Monday, May 24, 2010

Managing the Cheese Department - John Ferarra

Behind the Cheese Counter at the Brattleboro, VT  Food Co-op

Learning the Trade
John Ferarra was just a part-time worker at the Brattleboro co-op when Henry Tewksbury (author of "The Cheeses of Vermont: A Gourmet Guide to Vermont's Artisinal Cheesemakers") asked him to work fulltime at the cheese counter. That was 11 years ago.  Henry was a loving, caring, supportive mentor and he believed in local cheesemakers.  He taught John everything about cheese.  Sadly, after John had worked with him for 5 years, Henry died unexpectedly at the age of 79.

His Responsibilities

Ordering the Cheese

Thanks to the efforts of Henry, John says he has a direct relationship with most of his Vermont producers.  He simply calls them at their farms to order.

He also buys some cheeses through distributors and some come by UPS.  There is even a company with a refrigerated truck that picks up and delivers any quantity for a flat rate.
John explains that he manages to offer a huge selection of local cheeses because the profit margin on the "commodity" cheeses from the large companies pays for the lower margins on the local, artisinal cheeses.

Storing the Cheese
Fortunately, John is able to keep his inventory low so the cheese is fresh when he sells it.  With artisinal cheeses, there are no “sell by” dates.  John’s assistant, Joy Carder, keeps track of the packing dates.  She has worked out an elaborate rotational schedule.

When it’s time, they open the wrappers and check the cheeses.  Sometimes they plein off all the sides which have been in contact with the wrapper.  Other times, they discount the cheeses or put them out  as “tasters” for the customers.  They keep the walk-in cooler at 38F.

Cutting and Wrapping the Cheese
They frequently cut the cheeses and re-wrap them so the customers can buy smaller pieces.  When they do this, they sometimes put a layer of cheese wrap on the cheese, then wrap it in plastic.  That way the cheese doesn’t take on the taste of the PCBs in the plastic.  This is particularly true with the aged cheeses because they are looking for moisture.  Fresh cheeses are not a problem because they are giving off moisture.

When a cheese comes cryovaced, there are no PCBs in the plastic, so there is no taste.  The softer cheeses can’t be cryovaced, however, so many producers also put paper between the cheese and the plastic wrap.

When a 75 pound wheel of Reggiano with a 1” rind, comes in, John cuts it with a band saw in the meat department (before the meat is cut for the day). Fortunately, he only goes through one wheel every 2 months!

Helping Customers
This is John’s favorite part.  He loves to talk about cheese.  As it should be, he is a wealth of information.  He points out that in grocery stores, you are on your own.  Here, he can usually give you a taste before you buy.  He can tell you every detail about where the cheese was made, how it was made and what to pair it with.
Recently, the store brought in Isabella Figs and Almond Cake from Spain to pair with a Gruyere or a creamy goat spread.  They also sell Fox Hollow Mustard which he recommends touching lightly on any cave-aged hard cheese.  Their Bella Pera jams mix well with chevre or may be spread between a cracker and soft, fresh cheese.  John’s favorite is the Pear Spread with Acacia Honey.

Every week he has a favorite cheese (his own preference).  He confided that this week it’s Jasper Hill’s "Winnimere."   What a great job!   

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Farmstead Cheesemaking in the Pyrenees

Sharilyn and Brian Clowes
Last year, Sharilyn Clowes and her husband celebrated their 10th anniversary by selling their belongings and taking off from Canada on an open ended bicycle trip through Europe.  They visited 14 countries and they documented the entire trip on their blog on Travelpod.

When they were staying in Boussenac, Midi-Pyrénées, France, they were taken by friends to a small dairy in their neighborhood.  They went in and found themselves making cheese!  Here is their story as told by Sharilyn on their blog:


I’ve always loved cheese and have gained a greater appreciation for the different varieties, tastes, and smells of it over the years (beyond Kraft Singles and Mild Cheddar).  So far in France, I've greatly enjoyed tasting cheeses whose names I cannot pronounce, and can eagerly say that there’s nothing I’ve tasted that I didn’t like.  Certainly some more than others, but nothing I would not eat.
 
Part of the dream of our little self-sufficient farm would be making our own cheese out of cow or goat milk.  Out of all the culinary arts of homesteading I’ve tried (pickling, bread making, condiments, etc.) cheese making has yet to be attempted.

  In discussing different interests with Justin and Emily (our Helpx hosts) it was mentioned that they have friends just down the road who make their own cheese from the milk their cows produce.  Soon a phone call was made and we were whisked off to plunge our hands into all sorts of funky smelling substances…
Upon arrival we came to the sweetest flower-framed doorway with a little ‘ouvret’ sign hanging on the door.  Leading into a tiny room with some baskets, waxed paper, a weigh scale and a knife.  Off to the side was a wall of windows peering into the room where the cheese was made.  Beyond that was the door leading into the ‘cavern’ where the cheese ages.  
Milk was already heating in the large tank.
A lovely lady patiently and slowly repeated everything for us several times (in French) until we understood, and actually got us involved in the process.  We were able to wash down the aging cheese rounds, feel the curds, and pack the molds.  Quite amazing to think that in a couple of months people will be buying this cheese that we made.  
Testing the curds.
Cutting the curds.
Inside the cavern were shelves and shelves of large saggy cheeses in various stages of decay.  Dark and moist- it’s the perfect place for the yummy bacteria to grow that makes the cheese so tasty.  This particular type of cheese is called a Tomme and is very unique to the region.  Each round is marked with a batch number of when it was made so it can be tracked if there are any problems, and helps with the rotation and knowing when they’re ready for sale.
   Very easy natural type of cheese that can be made with any milk.  Down the road a bit there’s a local farm advertising the sale of their cheese made from chevre.  There have even been sheep’s milk cheeses for sale in some of the stores.  Tomme des Pyrenees is a very mild tasting cheese, firm, but with holes in it.
Seeing all the work involved I still can’t believe how cheap the cheese here.  This lady is selling hers for 13 Euro ($17) a Kilogram - a KILOGRAM!!! (over 2 lbs.)  I’m used to Canadian prices of $4-6 for 100 GRAMS (3.5 oz)!  Many people place their weekly/monthly orders with her.  She packages them up as closely as she can without wasting any cheese, and then they are taken around for delivery.
The community here is just what I’m hoping to find someday.  Where neighbors all know one another and trading is perfectly normal.  The farm we're at trades eggs for milk.  We even got a little triangle of cheese to take on our way.