Thursday, January 29, 2015

Curds and Whey

Ever have an "Oops"? A kitchen Oops? An I-left-the-oven-on-now-a-gallon-of-yogurt-has-curdled Oops? Yea... let's take a page from Bob Ross, call is a happy mistake, and turn it into a bird. Well, not an actual bird, that would be weird.

I keep my yogurt at temperature in the oven by preheating it on the lowest temp and putting the warm packed jars on a tray in there with the oven off. Usually it's just enough heat to keep the fermentation going, this week it was enough heat to kill the culture, so a gallon of milk was made into not-yogurt.
 No panicking! First rule of cooking. So, I got on the Google, asked some fellow fermentors, and started looking for ways to salvage this. First, I strained the curds out from the whey. stirring the mess from time to time to let more liquid drain. I then placed a bowl and some weight (A jar of water) on the cheesy bit to force some water out. That whey, is of course being reserved for other uses.

In the morning the curds had formed a fairly firm cheesy mass. So firm, in fact, that I added some milk back to it to make it more mixable. Then I ate it with jam for breakfast - Fan-fucking-tastic!

 As for the rest, the majority of the mess had become whey. I used skim milk which has considerably higher percentages of water in it. I discovered that *gasp* one of my favorite cheeses is not in fact a real cheese! Brunost, which is sometimes sold as "Ski Queen" here in the states is made from boiled down whey with a little cream added. The color comes from the milk sugars caramelize, thus it's slightly sweet.

The history of this cheese is interesting, and much newer than one might think. In earlier periods whey was a valuable animal feed for the small farm cheese maker, and it was also commonly added to soups and the like. As dairy productions got bigger and bigger there was more whey than could be given back to animals (it's more often given to pigs and horses, not cows.) Nowadays, Whey is in fact a problematic waste product!

For my Whey cheese I boiled the whey for hours... and hours... and finally it went from a thin yellowish liquid to a thick brown substance the consistency of gravy. I took it off the heat, and added a little bit of cream. It has to be whisked several times while cooling to avoid the crystallizing of the sugars.
Not quite as solid and brown as the Gjetost, but quite good on crackers nonetheless!

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