Getting Back into the Cheese Making Groove

I should be sewing right now, I really should. Or, I could be constructing a hat making tutorial that I made myself promise I would write out when I finished up two previously unfinished gowns earlier this month for KA&S. Instead, I’m experimenting and writing more about my cheese adventures – some of which at least count for Lilies prep so at least I have that going for me…

Plain Ol’ Salted cheese: An Homage to Ruth Goodman, and I mean that with as much fangirl as I can summon. This cheese is based off of her discussion of the Tudor and later Stuart dairies in “Tudor Monastery Farm” and “Tales from the Green Valley” as well as basic historical cheese making practices. It’s a simple farm cheese, aged for a minimum of a week, salted and flipped each day, and can be stored for the year  – as long as it stays cool, doesn’t dry out, and you keep an eye on the rind. It’s a hardy cheese. Salty and simple.

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Plain farm cheese, this has the final salt rub still on it, happily defending against bacteria.

 

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Plain farm cheese with the rind buffed to remove the loose salt as well as the salt that had formed a hard coating in some areas.

 

This round is destined for my personal consumption at Lilies and should be able to last me the week without refrigeration. The aging and rind reached a state I was happy with, and I wanted to play with alternative preservation techniques beyond waxing. I brushed the rind with a tablespoon of olive oil (which would have been available for my persona, although a luxury good) and have high hopes for its future aging into June.

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Plain cheese with olive oil to seal the round and promote a more controlled aging process with less (hopefully no) drying. I may need to build it up with the oil; it will be an experiment to see how the rind does.

 

Black Truffle Cheese, these two rounds are destined for friends and labeled as such. This time I mixed the black truffle sea salt with the cheese before pressing instead of using it as the aging salt.

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Black truffle cheese, this batch was alternatively salted or wiped with brine. These have the salt rub still on them.

 

I’m happy with the results, and hopefully the recipients will be as well. One round is going to HE Gwen as a thank you for a Roman cheese press prototype and the other is going to her student Uji who will be using it in a German sausage recipe that called for a crumbled rich cheese to be mixed into the ground meat mixture pre-ageing.

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Black Truffle: Cheese Noir. Being silly and messing with photo filters after the rind had been wiped down and wax melting.

 

Beeswax was used to seal the rounds to guarantee the consistency remains appropriate until eaten. Rounds were labeled to guarantee they are only claimed by the intended recipients…

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A light coating of beeswax to seal the rounds to keep them creamy and labeled to make sure that there are no tragic cheese mix-ups!

 

 

Cranberry Cheese, farm cheese mixed with dried cranberries and pressed. I’ve read tutorials stating that no organic material should be present in aged cheeses, yet I’ve eaten aged cheeses that contain organic material, and have read other cheese making tutorials about cheeses that include additional yummy things. So, I figured that I would try it out. The curd density went sideways during the process and I ended up with a pretty slimy cheese goo, and I figured that this was the perfect time to try out a few new things. Salt and dried cranberries were added, and after the first pressing today the crumbs were very very tasty. After a desired firmness is achieved, it will be washed in a brine daily (I have some red wine sea salt around here somewhere), flipped daily for seven days, and then likely waxed. If all goes well, it should make it’s debut at Lilies.

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Tasty tasty cranberry cheese. The deep ruby color of the cranberries don’t come through in the photo, but this cheese was really pretty.

 

 

Nocino Cheese: going out on an experimental limb. This concept was developed at Kingdom Arts and Sciences between HL Eynon and I after his comment that the nocino was so acidic that it instantly curdled the cream in a commercial cream liquor. I mentioned cheese, and the next thing I knew a bottle of the brandy version had been sacrificed to science. After having a walnut flavored parmesan years ago, I thought I might attempt something similar with the nocino – developing a veining with the cordial by coating the hard curds before pressing. Unfortunately, the batch of intended cheese was half of the batch from the cranberry cheese, so I had to alter things. Instead, I went with a port wine type swirl approach. The first pressing turned out gorgeous with really nice marbling and the crumbs had an interesting smoky flavor. It has been flipped and is back in the press for another night.

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Artfully marbled nocino cheese. This cheese was so pretty, I think that it would be lovely as a fresh pressed cheese to eat. Cinnamon bagel chips would go nicely with this. Hopefully, the marbling stays consistent through the aging process – if it lasts that long. 

 

I realize that there are going to be some weird things going on with the high sugar and alcohol content of nocino, but hopefully with ample salt the additional bacterial concerns should be under control. Additional research occurred today, and I’m feeling pretty confident in my next batches and getting back on track with intended results.

 

Speaking of additional research, I finally got a chance to extensively go through the posts from Waldetrudis von Metten at http://medievalcheese.blogspot.com/.  She has a wonderful site that I recommend to anyone interested in making cheese, especially some of the more interesting regional cheeses of the medieval period. It was here that I fell down the research rabbit hole today and learned the life changing information that I can make even more cheese ( or “cheese” similar in concept to “krab”) from whey. Actually there are a slew of whey cheeses, some are described at [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whey_cheese] to get a quick synopsis.

Not only that, but apparently it is super easy to make your own yogurt at home and with the surplus make cheeses out of the yogurt! I feel like that person from the infomercials stating that a certain product has changed their life…. But seriously, the yogurt and yogurt cheeses are next on the docket. Waldetrudis described a Mediterranean yogurt cheese that was pressed, lightly dried, rolled into balls, spiced, and then stored in olive oil to age. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the perfect spreadable cheese for flatbreads – and the possible perfect soft-ish cheese for the Ladies of the Rose Tournament table at Lilies (that I wouldn’t have to make the day before).

More cheese experiments are on the horizon and I’m super excited to get to them!

 

Countdown to Lilies: 53 Days and Musing…

It 53 days until Lilies War – kind of big deal in the SCA Kingdom I reside in. I have nothing to wear. My husband, who does NOT play, has decided that he is coming for the first weekend (Yay!). He has nothing to wear. I’m teaching two new classes that I have to hone. New tent furnishings need to be made. There is much cheese that must be processed… Sensing a trend here? I’m not ready, not in the least bit. But, that’s okay.

I’m more than I a bit bummed that I won’t be going to any more events until Lilies War, but alas, spring is as it always is – filled with far too many commitments. However, that gives me some really fabulous opportunities to get a good base wardrobe that I’m actually happy with made, and to have a proper historical wardrobe for my persona from the skin out. Not everything will be perfect, and it will be of the peasant class instead of the lower gentry that my eventual goal is, but it should work for Lilies and during the weight transitions.  I know a couple more of my friends are doing this for this year too, and I’m really excited in discussing the pro/cons/challenges/etc. with them after the event is all said and done.

From the skin out? Historical? Isn’t that what you already do in the SCA? Yes, and no. For me, I’m really starting to focus more on my chosen time period – the 16th century, more specifically the late 16th century. With that, I’m not looking to create a bunch a clothes (like I’ve done in the past), but an actual wardrobe – a set of clothing that works within the historical matrix of what we know people actually owned (based on wills and such) and what they could afford. Our closets today are much different than the wardrobes of our ancestors. The best way to think about the historical wardrobe is a pyramid. At the base, you have white linens – your smocks, shirts, hose (if made of linen), partlets, headrails, yard cloths for various wrapping and covering needs, aprons, and just about anything else that came into contact with your skin on a daily basis. On the next tier up, you have your everyday woolens – hoses, kirtles, petticoats, things that were of lesser grades and dye colors of wool, things that got worn and used on an everyday basis. Next you have your better wools, better dyes uses, a nice wool kirtle and gown for those special market days or holy days that you aren’t mucking out the stable while wearing – this is getting into the realm of the really prosperous peasantry and yeoman farmers.  For most of the people during Tudor England, the extent of one’s clothing ended at step number two on the socioeconomic material culture ladder (unless your employer chose to cloth you differently). While, for the nobility, the pyramid continued to the very top with scarlet and ermine.

Taking this into consideration, my clothing going with me to Lilies will be primarily made of white linen (and some old cotton that is on it’s last leg) comprised of a fresh smock, headrail, and socks for each day. Next, I’ll have two kirtles that have been remade from previous dresses. They will be linen instead of wool, but that is what future improvement is for. At least two if not three aprons, two white linen partlets, one black partlet, three proper coifs, and a couple of sets of pin-on sleeves – I should look like a proper hodge-podge of a peasant!

Well, that’s the idea anyway, hopefully with writing this all down I’ll have no choice but to stick with it now. More to come.