Back in Efrat to Make Cheese

 

What can I say, I love Efrat

You know that yoefrat workshopu are doing something right when you are back in the same city, and the same house that you were in a month earlier doing another Kosher Cheese making workshop.  I think that Efrat is going to become the kosher home cheesemaking center the way that people are so excited there about making their own cheese.

I can’t say thank you enough to the host of this event two times in a row now.  As I was not given permission to put her name online, those that have been in the two workshops or have read her advertisement about the workshops know who I am speaking about, and a big thank you for the hard work and continued hard work you are doing to make kosher cheesemaking alive in Efrat.

The big difference between this time and then, was that there were no rockets (at least getting there) and we were al able to be above ground making cheese the entire time.

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the great things about traveling around the country to do these workshops is the ability to meet wonderful people.   It was truly a real treat to have a professional pizza maker in the crowd.  The owner of Pizzeria Efrat was there to learn to make fresh Mozzarella and Ricottoa.  She even wrote to me to say that she had made fresh Mozzarella and Ricotta for the Shabbat that followed the workshop and the guests were very pleased with her creations.

The other thing that I notice is that there people that are always wanting to help 20140819_215119koshercurds.com and the kosher cheesemaking workshops become bigger and bigger.  There was a participant who is a social media expert and while the workshop was going on she was taking photos and letting people in the states know what she was doing in real time.  She then offered from the bottom of her heart to help koshercurds.com establish themselves in the social media world.  I can’t express how touched and moved I was to have someone really want to help koshercurds.com get the word out that one can truly make kosher cheese at home.  THR, I thank you.  To the right you can see a beautiful set of curds that are being cut.

Now one of the things that happen in almost every workshop is what I call the LYR (Low Yield Result).  Why this happens, I don’t know.  Does it happen, yes.  Did it happen in this workshop, yes.  I have to admit it really is disheartening to see someone put all of their energy and love into making a cheese and at the end they get a low yield.  This can happen from many things, but with making Ricotta it usually happens when the curds have either been stirred too hard, or too fast.  How do I handle this problem? I let the participant know that the mozzarella that they are going to make will be amazing.  This is a guarantee.  And you know what, IT IS AMAZAING and the smile is put back on there face.

20140819_220350I am looking forward to being back in Efrat soon for our 3rd basic kosher cheesemaking workshop as well as the stage 2 workshop where we will be making a hard cheese.

In the mean time, just smile and say Kosher CHEESE!

Making Cheese on the Ella Valley Farm

Ella Valley Farm

One of the great things about traveling around the country and doing the Kosher Cheesemaking workshop is that I get to go to many different areas and meet some truly amazing people.

Ella Valley Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, the workshop was fortunate to be hosted in a moshav in Emek HaElla.  The place Ella Valley Farm.  The family is the Weisman family.

What was so great about being out there, is that it was like making cheese the way it was before the modern idea of lets build apartments or live in the “burbs”.    Now before moving to the Golan Heights, I lived in the moshav around the corner from there and I never thought that I would be in that area for a long time.  But Hashem has different plans for his two legged creatures.

As I arrived at Ella Valley Farm I was greeted with the sound of children and parents either playing or working in the yard, then a small goat (I do mean small, African Pygmy Goat small) was being carried in the arms of one of the girls.  The goat was a few weeks old.

Then it was time for the milking of the sheep and the goat so we could have a real treat for this work shop.  Fresh, raw milk.

Now sheep milk has the highest percent of fat of all the animals that are used historically used for making cheese.  There wasn’t too much of it either, so I decided that the family would make the Ricotta with the Sheep milk and the Mozzarella with the Tnuva.

What happened was that it took a very long time for this milk to start to form curds.  Almost 30 minutes after everybody else was already done and having the curds drain.  But I knew that this was going to very special and I kept telling Chaya that it was going to be just fine, and that “good things happen to those who can wait”.  Well, wait she did.  WOW! I couldn’t believe the yield it was wonderful, the color was a bit yellowish and the flavor, well I can’t really tell you about that…

Everybody was able to take home wonderful cheese at the end of the night, and I took home a great feeling.  The feeling of being connected back to our land, and doing things that the way that they should be done.

I want to say thank you Chaya, Mordachai and the entire Weisman family for hosting me and the koshercurds.com workshop on the Ella Valley Farm.

 

 

 

 

 

Making Cheese in Efrat

Cheese Making in Efrat

Last week I had the privilege and honor to be hosted in the city of Efrat for a kosher cheese making workshop.

Cheese Making in EfratThe journey to Efrat is about 3.5 hours from my home in the Golan Heights, and I have to admit that I was a bit nervous driving there as there were missiles being sent from Gaza to the area.  But my family and had decided that we were not going to let that deter us from the mission at hand and that was to teach about making kosher cheese at home.

We arrive on time and set the space up.  People started to arrive and it was truly wonderful to see that we did have a full house, and that the host had done a hard job of getting everyone to make their commitment and show.  There was even one participant that had come from the Kibbutz Ein Gedi on this missile night.

Whole Milk Ricotta

We started the evening with making the Whole Milk Ricotta as this cheese takes the longest to make.  I noticed that all but one was getting the curds to separate rather quickly, but this one pot just wasn’t doing it.  I then noticed that it was an Aluminum pot.  I told the participant that he will get the curds to separate, but it will just take a longer time as the pot was not retaining the heat that is needed.   About 30 minutes into the draining another person showed up and they too had an aluminum pot.  I explained that they were going to get cheese, just because of the pot it will take a longer time and that they will just have to be stay  calm, and be patient.

Everything was going well, the Ricotta was draining and we had spoken about milk, rennet, and other kosher ingredients that are used for making cheese along with some of the kosher aspects as well as health aspects.  We were now ready to start with Mozzarella making.

Making Mozzarella

This aspect of the workshop is really where we get to see chemistry in action.  The pots were filled again with milk, and the rennet was added.  The curds were starting to set, everything was going great when all of the sudden we heard the siren.  At first I wasn’t sure what we were to do as I have not been around one for a long time, so I asked if this was real and what was the procedure.  I was informed that it was real and that we needed to head downstairs to the bomb shelter for 10 minutes.

Ten minutes, I couldn’t believe that we would have to wait that long.  Making cheese is a very precise thing.  One minute to long or to short could change your cheese altogether.  I couldn’t imagine what ten minutes was going to do.

efratws1Well, the time eventually passed and B”H everybody was well , the rackets fell in a remote field.  We all went back upstairs to continue the process of making the Mozzarella. It seemed as though everything just took a break while we were gone.  The curds looked wonderful, some were a bit slower than others, but they were getting there.  Now the time came heat them up and get the stretch going.

As the group started to heat the curds and getting the stretch we could all see that there was going to be success.  A few didn’t get it exactly, but got a wonderful cheese instead.  Others got what we were looking for.

All in all, as bizarre and strange the evening was, it was a great workshop.  May Hashem keep protecting us as it is written “the eyes of Hashem are continually upon it  from the beginning of the year to the end of the year” (Dvarim 11,12).

For workshop in Efrat in August so please send an email to david@koshercurds.com to stay updated as to when and where.

Till later kosher curd nerds.

Dovid

Organic Kosher Yogurt Culture

Yogurt Culture

As most of you know, I am generally writing about cheese and cheesemaking but I just happened to have this come in my email today and thought that I would share this with all of you as it does fit within the koshsercurds theme. I have been making Yogurt off and on for about as many years as I have been making cheese.  I have been asked by many to supply them with a recipe or a “how do you do it” question in the cheesemaking workshop.

 
Just last month, I was asked if I had a yogurt culture that was Chalav Yisrael.  I was pleased to inform the questioner that I did and would bring it to them as they were attending a workshop in Tzfat.

As I said earlier,  something very special showed up in my email.  It was a recipe for making Yogurt without a starter culture. Very much like making cheese with the “milk” of the fig tree.

Making Yogurt from scratch

Once you read this you will just laugh as you see how truly simple this process is.

Ingredients:

Organic Red sweet peppers with long stems (about 6-8)

1.5 cup milk

How it’s done

  1. Remove a fine slice from the already open end of the stem, then chop the stem off the pepper.
  2. Put 6-8 stems in about 1.5 cups of milk
  3. Warm until you start to see light bubbles forming around the edge of the pot
  4. Turn off the heat and wrap in a small blanket and let cool very slowly.
  5. After it has cooled down (some hours later) and there you have the culture.
  6. You will want to freeze batches ( would pour in ice tray and freeze)
  7. What you want to do now is start using this to make yogurt, and each time, remove one of the cubes and use according to your yogurt recipe.

My Yogurt Recipe

Ingredients:

Milk

Starter

How it’s done:

  1. Heat the milk up to 185(F) 85(C)
  2. Take off heat and let cool until 116(F) 47(C)
  3. Add the starter and stir
  4. Cover the pot and place in a warm place (maybe put a blanket around the pot) for 6-8 hours.
  5. Place in refrigerator and cool.

You can then use 2 tablespoon from your fresh yogurt to make a new batch of health and tasty yogurt.

This seems to have solved the chalav yisrael yogurt starter.

10 Kraft Cream Cheese Flavors Lose Their Certification

Kraft Cream Cheese (What were they thinking)

I don’t think that they were really thinking that this would happen when they launched their new product that contains real Bacon pieces. I can’t even think how that would taste to the non-Jewish palate.

Thanks to our good friends at OK who put out a memo stating that it was not kosher. Because the company also produces other cream cheeses on the same production line the following 10 flavors are no longer kosher.

Philadelphia Original
Fat Free Cream Cheese Spread
Milk Chocolate Cream Cheese Spread
Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread
Strawberry Fat Free Cream Cheese Spread

The original cream cheese was not affected by the production so it is still OK.

This reminds me of the article that I wrote about a few posts ago about the DNA of Pig in the Cadburry Chocolate in Malaysia.

I can’t help but think that all of these artificial flavorings, colors, etc… are just Hashem’s way of saying stick with the original. It was created to be just cream cheese and nothing more. If the non-Jews want to eat all that strange stuff let them, but we should just eat what we know. A Schmear of cream cheese on whatever you want to put it on and that’s all.

If you want to learn to make real cream cheese (not taking sour cream and putting in the diaper to drain) then keep your eyes on my site as I will be launching my new book “Kosher Curds – Making Kosher Cheese at Home” soon.

Job Well Done–Thank You

When I receive a phone call or an email from one the participants that has attended a kosher cheesemaking workshop that I have given and they have a question, concern, or comment regarding a cheese that they are making from one of the recipes that I send out I want to say that I  am truly  thankful to have received a correspondence from you.

It’s very exciting to hear that so many that have attended the workshop are continuing on past the three hours that we spent together and that they are putting the skills that they learned along side their own personality to start making “their” cheese.  The one that they will be remembered by.

Today I received an email and phone call from two attendees from the workshop in Tzfat.  One made the Tzfatit and the other a Ricotta (using fresh Goat milk, ummm).  It felt great to know that they are taking their new art to the table and not leaving it in the classroom. 

Below is the Tzfatit  cheese that was made from the  one the participants in Tzfat.  She had it for breakfast.  It looks Amazing.

Tzfatit- Elisheva - Tzfat

I hope that more will share their cheese making success (there is no failure, just a new cheese)

To all of I you I say Thank You to a Job Well Done

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Bored with Mozzarella

Mozzarella for Israelis

Since I have been giving the koshercurds.com cheese making workshops, I find that making mozzarella at home can be rather boring now.   As this cheese can be made rather quickly I decided yesterday that I would dress it up.  Being the wedding anniversary of my wife and I today, I thought that I would surprise my wife (who has been gone over a day working in the center of the country).  It has been mentioned to me not only by my wife, but also my Israeli neighbors that “we are not excited by that type of cheese.”  I couldn’t understand what was wrong with these people.  Fresh mozzarellais truly something very special.  The taste is so creamy (not like the plastic provolone that they purchase in the store) Provolone is basically aged mozzarella with a few twists.

So, as I really wanted my wife to share my passion for this amazing cheese. I kept thinking about how to make this into something special, something that will make her just say boccacini - mozzarellaWOW THIS IS AMAZING! and then it came to me. Buccacini.  Yep, that’s right you said it correctly, Buccacini (Little Mouthfuls).  These are just wonderful little balls of mozzarella that are then covered in olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, fresh parsley, and crushed garlic.  The taste…. amazing.   I waited for her to come home fro her long drive.

I had put the flowers on the table along with a personal note/card to her. Flowers for Anniversary Then the two pieces of chocolate shaped like the Hermon mountains.  I heard the car come to the gate and the doors close.  I helped her bring her things into the house.  She saw the flowers, the card, the chocolate and then (since I knew that she had not eaten all day) I offered to make her an omelet with some cheese.  She asked what cheese, I told her Buccacini and told her to taste.  Smile from ear to ear.  “THIS IS AMAZING” she said.  “YES”, I said.  I told her what it was mozzarella balls with the trimmings.  She said that this is the cheese that Israelis will love.

As Jews we don’t have (thank goodness that we don’t need) February 14th as the day of “Love”.  Instead we have everyday.  We start our prayers everyday with “Hodu Hashem” and when we have a wedding anniversary we are able to  solidify the concept.  That we thank and praise hashem for giving us the opportunity to be in love, and to be married and have a kosher home.

I was so pleased that the mozzarella worked out and that when making someone happy we sometimes,  just need to say Boccacini and  WOW THAT’S AMAZING!!!

The Best Kosher Lasagna Ever

The Best Lasagna

If somebody comes to ISRAEL in the 2 weeks around Shavuos he will think that Israelis eat only Lasagna and Cheese cake with the 9% cheese and instant pudding. The supermarkets are welcoming you with stands stacked with packs of Lasagna noodles at bargain prices .

I grew up on eating sweet cheese blintzes for Shavous and  Borscht for drinking, with stories from my mother (may she will keep being with us for long time) on her home in Anthopol.  Stories about how they started to prepare the borscht during Chanukah time by putting the beets in wooden barrels preparing for Shavuos.

The home made blintzes tasted so wonderful, but my mother used to say “ but this is nothing compare to the blintzes my grandmother  z”l used to make”. They were made with home made butter and home made cheese from fresh milk (the cow they used to have in their back yard to make sure they have Cholov Yisrael available to them).

Somehow when I got married my husband and I slowly we switched from the traditional blintzes to the “Israeli” lasagna. it was easy to make and seems that it was an easy winner with family and guests. . I always am embarrassed that I am deciding what dish to make based on how much less time it takes, (I’m sorry Grandma Rachel)

This year I knew we are going to use my husband home made cheeses, and decided to check it with my lasagna recipe. I used the homemade Dovid’s Ricotta and the Caerphilly. I have to say  that I honestly  was not sure if it will be that yummy, and will pass the taste buds of our son and my “fineshmaker” mother.  I was not sure if these home made delicate cheeses without all the stabilizers will make it firm.

It was a great surprise, what came out of the oven.  This was the best lasagna ever. A true “winner”.  It was delicious for children and great for the most fineshmaker taste buds.

As our son said “A real delicatese”

koshercurds.com – Your online source for 100% Kosher Home Cheese Making supplies. Making your own kosher cheese is healthier, Mehadrin kosher and saves you money! Please contact us for workshops, supplies and consulting.

Cheese Cultures – What’s the differance?

Cheese Cultures – there is a culture difference between them

What exactly does a cheese culture do?  Well, the first thing it does is change the the sugar (lactose) into in acid (lactic acid). Now this is a good thing for those of us who are lactose intolerant.    But lets not get to excited yet.  It doesn’t mean that we can go and eat lots of cheese, but it does mean that cheese products (I mean real cheese products) are a little easier for us to breakdown than other dairy products.  The second thing that they do is assist the rennet in the coagulation process and form curds and whey as well as create flavor development in hard cheeses.

Type of cheese cultures

There are two types of starter cultures that are used in cheese making: Mesophilic and Thermophilic.

Mesophilic cultures are lower temperature bacteria that are used when the curds are not going to be heated more than 102°F(39°C). Mesophilic cheese cultures are usually used for Cheddar, Colby, Gouda, Montery Jack, Feta and other semi-hard cheeses.

Thermophilic cultures can survive up to 132°F (55°C) and are used for hard Italian and Swiss type cheeses like Mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano and Emmentaler.

Starter cultures are available in two forms, either a mother culture or a direct set culture. For beginners, I highly recommend using a direct set culture, leaving the creation of a mother culture until you are more proficient.

 Direct set cultures are packaged by freeze drying, and are readily available at cheese making suppliers, and are stored in the freezer.  Most Cholov-Yisrael cultures are designed for -50 and need dried ice to maintain them.  koshercurds.com carries CY cultures that only need -18 (regular freezer).

KOSHER NOTE: If you keep Cholov-Yisrael you will have a hard time finding cheese cultures for the home cheese maker as many of the cultures are kosher Cholov-Stam.  Please contact david@koshercurds.com if you would like CY cultures.  They are available on this site.

Dovid

 

Homemade cheeses have spoiled me

Homemade cheese

Just after Pesach we felt that we need to take a break for a while from chicken and meat etc etc

We went back to our favorite parve-dairy Shabbos meals. And we were tempered with my husband’s homemade cheeses: mozzarella, ricotta, Feta, Tzfatit and haloumi (reserving the hard cheeses that are still maturing for Shavous).

We had a variety of wonderful salads and cheeses with good olive oil and fresh organic basil. Last week my son asked for “Mecasheese” (Marconi and Cheese) , and since we did not have at home what  I needed I decided to try the “new improved last talked about imported cheese”. I went to the local supermarket and found one that looked great with great Hecher , I came home opened the package tried a bite and … it was not it.

Suddenly all my taste buds screamed: I felt and sensed all the preservatives and additives, and it all looked too artificial and not too real. OHH, what a difference.  It felt like having fresh clean spring water and go back to the tap water. And then I understood that “Store bought cheese is not for me anymore”.

I told a friend of mine and she said that’s how she feels when she goes to the supermarket , everything looks so like plastic and artificial, she said it lost the appeal it had. I told her I do believe more and more people will join the “do it yourself natural path”.

Thank you Dovid for doing all these wonderful homemade cheeses for us, I can not wait to conduct a cheese making workshop with you in Hebrew.