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Jerusalem workshop, Cheese Made by Friends

Cheese Workshop in Jerusalem. For over a year in waiting

I have been wanting to get a cheese workshop together in the holy city of Jerusalem for over a year, and last Thursday morning it finally happened.  The host/organizer of this workshop is someone that I had never met, but from the conversations that we had, I knew that she was going to get this done and done well.

20151107_112818I was not let down.  The morning started with our host her preparing coffee and bagels for those that came to the workshop.  This was a wonderful surprise as it really set the mood for what was going to take place.

I had come in the night before so I had had a chance to speak with her a little about the crowd that was going to come.  This group she explained was her walking group and they were friends.  I thought ok, that’s nice she got some friends together that like to go walking and now they want to make cheese.
Well, it was so much more than  that.  These were not just friends, but FRIENDS.  The bond that this group had was truly wonderful to see.  I saw this as soon as each one came in to the room.  They were all excited about not only what was going to happen, but to see each other as well. There was just a true happiness to be there by all of them.  I have to say, it was wonderful and heartwarming not to say the least.

One of the things that I loved was the mix of countries that were there as well as stories of cheese making experiences that wereworkshop
We started the workshop right away with the making of the Ricotta cheese.  This cheese takes the longest to make, so we get it out of the way at the beginning so we can focus on the cheese making process, ingredients, equipment etc…  We ended up with wonderful Ricotta the first time round.  The Mozzarella seemed to shine for some and well not much for others.  This does sometimes happen though and when it does, just eat what you have and enjoy it.

 

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I want to say thank you to all of you for making this a wonderful day.

I think that all in all it was a wonderful time, and I think that this email that I received sums up the feeling of the participants.

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Making Kosher Camembert at Home

Camembert, Just Do It

20150806_090625Well after many months of putting this off, I finally decided to do it.  This cheese by many is considered to be a rather difficult cheese to make.  I would tend to agree.  I started out with two, and ended up with only one in the end.

What seems to be the tricky part is the combination of temperature and humidity.  If it is too cold the Camembert  won’t grow the wonderful fuzz that gives it the wonderful color as well as taste, and texture.  What is actually happening is the white mold is eating the cheese the same that it is providing a barrier against other molds.  This is held under control by the addition of salt as well as the correct temperature and humidity.  If the humidity is to wet, the mold will also not grow in a way that will cling to the cheese.  This is actually what happened with mine.  As it is rather hot right now, I think that the opening/closing of the fridge door had a lot to do with what happened to the cheese.

I picked it up to turn over, and the center felt as though it was ready.  I thought that it
was strange as it had about another 3 weeks to go.  I decided to open and see what was there.  Well it poured out a creamy sauce and the center was like cream cheese,  The mold had formed nicely, but seemed to have slipped off the cheese.  Taste was amazing though.  My wife and I ate the entire little wheel.

I will wait until fall before I attempt this cheese again.  I have started a baby brie, but I think that the conditions right now will bring this cheese as well to early ripening.

The Whey to make Camembert

This recipe will make about a 1/2 kilo of cheese.  Should be 2-4 cheese molds depending on the size of your Camembert mold.

Milk – In Israel use Tnuva sack milk only or if you are able get raw milk use that.   The whole process will take around 6-7 weeks from the time you start until you end.  5 hours  to make the cheese 5 hours to drain the cheese and 6-7 to age.

Ingredients:  You will want to use either Flora Danica mesophilic culture (OUD) or Sacco MW036N (OK/CY) culture P. Cadimum  mold powder this will either be OUD or OKD for Chalav Stam or Valiren P. Cadimum for (OK/CY) Calcium chloride Liquid Bulk (OU) Badatz Jerusalem (Granuals) Liquied Rennet  (OK), and Sea Salt (non iodized)

  1. 3 liters whole cow’s milk
  2. 1/4 tsp.  Flora Danica or MW036N Culture
  3. 1/8 tsp. P. Cadimum
  4. 1/4 tsp Calcium Chloride
  5. 1/4 tsp liquid rennet dissolved in 1/4 c. un-chlorinated water
  6. 4 tablespoons salt

1.) In a stainless steel 4-6 liter pot, heat the milk to 90F/32C.  Once target is reached turn off the heat.

2.) Sprinkle the starter and mold powder over the milk and let rehydrate for 5 minutes.  Mix well using a slotted spoon in a up and down motion.  Cover and maintain the target temperature and let the milk ripen for 1.5 hours.  Add calcium chloride and gently stir in the rennet in the same way.  Cover and let sit, maintaining the target temperature.

3.) Cut the curds into 1/4- to -1/2 inch pieces and let sit for 5 minutes.  Gently stir with slotted spoon to prevent matting, then pour off 1/3rd of the whey.  Add the salt and gently stir to incorporate.

4.) Ladle the curds into a 4-inch Camembert mold set on a draining rack over a tray, let drain at room temperature until the cheese is firm enough to flip, about 2 hours.   Flip the cheese every hour for 5 hour or until it stops draining.

5.) Take the cheese out of the mold an put it in a ripening box.  Place a wadded piece of wet paper towel in a corner of the box with the cheese to keep the humidity at about 85%. Place the box on the bottom of the refrigerator.  Flip the cheese daily.  After 5 to 10 days the cehese should have around 75% mold coverage.  When the cheese is fully covered in white mold, remove it from the box, wrap it in foil or cheese paper, and put it back in the refrigerator for another 5 weeks.  It is ready when the center begins to feel soft.  Consume within 2 weeks and enjoy.

IMPORTANT: The temperature is very hard to control when making this cheese you will want to have your house be around 68-70F or 21-21C.  The fridge needs to be around 50F/10C.

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Velveeta Style Cheese and Kosher Too

Kosher Velveeta,

velveetaAhhhhh. (Sorry doesn’t exist) For many that have grown up in the US or other places where this amazing cheese (yes it is cheese) product has crowded the family cupboards and adorned the dining tables with Macaroni and Cheese that makes even the adults go gaga at the sight

There are many problems with this product but the one that I will address in the blog is the fact that it is not and never will be KOSHER.  The reason that Velveeta is not kosher is because there is an ingredient that is used that is not kosher. Not sure what it is, but  that is the fact.

Ok, so we still want to eat a creamy mac cheese (as my son calls it), and we don’t want to have the wonderful chemical orange powder that is found in the box with noodles.  Yes it is creamy, and that bright neon orange will just make any child glow.  But just the idea of it makes me want to choke.

The other day, I was thinking about making mac and cheese for the family for dinner.  I normally just make mozzarella and use that as the base, but then I thought about the creamy, gooey mac and cheese and I thought about Velveeta macaroni and cheese.  I did a search to see if it was available in Chalav Yisrael and alas not yet.  So what does any cheese maker do, they make it at home.

So here is the Whey it’s done.  I hope that you will try it at home and have a truly Kosher Velveeta experience.  (The pictures will not show my cheese as yellow as I don’t use food coloring, even natural in my cheeses).

You will make this cheese using a very basic lactic cheese recipe. I want to thank Suzanne McMinn for this great recipe.  By using Chalav Yisrael milk and starter as well as kosher rennet you will have a Kosher Velveeta style cheese that you and your family will truly fall in love with.

Ingredients: Mesophilic Starter, Rennet and Milk

How to make Lactic Cheese:

1 gallon pasteurized milk
1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter (Chalav Yisrael will require Chalav Yisrael Starter)
3 drops liquid rennet dissolved in 1/3 cup cool water

  1. Heat the milk to 86-degrees. Turn off the heat.
  2. Add the mesophilic starter and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add one teaspoon of the diluted rennet and stir with an up-and-down motion.
  4. Put the lid on the pot and let it sit for 12 hours.  If you do this at night, it will be ready in the morning for draining.
  5. Using a big slotted spoon, scoop the curds into a colander lined with butter muslin/Cheese cloth.
  6. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth and hang to drain. You will want to hang the cheese to drain for 12 hours.

Now for the Velveeta Part

One recipe lactic cheese, drained
3 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons salt*
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sweet light cream (optional–I didn’t use this)
cheese coloring (optional, once again I don’t use this)

*Adjust salt to taste, more or less.

This recipe will yield about 2 lbs of Velveeta style cheese.

In a large bowl, mix baking soda and salt into the cheese curds. BEAT WITH AN ELECTRIC MIXER.

Let sit for 30 minutes. The cheese will be light and airy after the baking soda is mixed in.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the cream (if using), stirring to combine. Heat. Add cheese coloring, if you like, while the cheese is melting. If you choose to add coloring, add as much as you like until it looks how you want it to look. You can use the cheese white (as I do), if you prefer.  In about three minutes, you should have a beautiful, smooth cheese ready to go into whatever you want to use as a mold–or just scoop into plastic tubs. If you use a mold where you can take the cheese out easily, you can slice it.

 

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Cherkesi Cheese – A Great Feeling

Cherkesi Cheese

One the great things about teaching people to make cheese is when I find out that they actually went home and continued to make cheese.  In the Koshercurd cheese making workshop you will leave with wonderful cheese that you made, but when you get home you will find an ebook with many more recipes to continue what you have learned in the class in the case you will find a recipe for Cherkesi Cheese.

Last summer I was blessed with the visit of IMG_20150810_120534a couple that was traveling from the Shomron, and was looking for something fun to do.  They had contacted me wanting to know if I would give them a cheese class.  I told them that I would we scheduled the day they would visit.  Well, I thought that it would be more fun if we could get a small group together and we were able to get a fun day together with a mini workshop.

Now after doing these workshops for quite some time, I know that many that have taken them have not continued on or if they did, they did not let me know.  So when I get a phone call, or email from someone that was in the class and wants to make a cheese that was in the ebook that they received, then I know that they were bitten by the koshercurd nerd bug, and they have started a wonderful hobby.

The great feeling came on a Thursday.  I received the phone call from C.  She wanted to know if I thought that a Lemon dressing would go well with the Cherkesi cheese that she wanted to try to make.  I told her that it would go great as the acidification of the cheese was created by Lemon juice.  I just told her to make sure that she sends me pictures and that she enjoys the process of making this semi-soft cheese.

Well, I finally received the email that stated the following:

“Bh it came out awesome the dressing I made enhanced it and worked wonderfully it was gone within half an hour of being placed on the table a huge hit..”

Now you understand why I just get a great feeling when I feel that I actually helped someone be able to make a part of their life just a little bit more special and different.

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Kosher Curds Cheese Making eBook is Finally Out

koshre curds ebook

The Kosher Cheese making ebook from Kosher Curds

Thinking of making cheese at home, but because you keep kosher didn’t think that it would be possible?  Well I am pleased to say that you will be able to start today being able to make real “kosher cheese” at home.  Yes, even if you keep Chalav Yisrael you will be able to make some of your favorite cheeses right in your own kitchen.

After two years of getting this started I am finally glad to say that it is finished.

I want to thank all of my workshop participants that helped mold this into what it is.

I want to thank all of my customers both here in Israel as well as abroad.

I want to thank all of those that have followed my site from day one.

But from the bottom of my heart, being and soul I want to thank my wife and son who have been with me on this journey since day one. They have been the constant support that is needed when trying to tackle such a project.  Especially since I thought it would be easy to get this out over two years ago.  Well, I was wrong.  They stood by my side.  I Thank the both of you.

So what do you get in the Kosher Curds eBook? Well you get basically the Kosher Curds workshop in front of you.

Kosher Curds Making Kosher Cheese at Home walks you through the entire process and makes it easy for the beginner to start to make their first cheese with store bought milk.

The book is a combination of the Kosher Curds cheese making workshops as well as halachic and health concerns for some children with some cheese making ingredients.

All the recipes in the book have been made not only by the author, but many of those that have taken the Kosher Curds workshops.  You too will become a kosher curd nerd in a very short time.

 The eBook contains recipes for the following cheeses;

  • Quick Mozzarellakoshercurds
  • Whole Milk Ricotta
  • Goat Milk Whey Ricotta
  • Labane Cheese
  • Cream Cheese
  • Feta
  • Halloumi
  • Colby
  • Caerphilly
  • Farmhouse Cheddar
  • Monterey Jack
  • Pepper Jack
  • Camembert
With detailed instructions, the entire process becomes much easier to achieve success than you would by reading a normal cheese making book.
After reading this book you too will be able to make Kosher Cheese in your own house.  Don’t forget “Blessed are the cheesemakers”

So, go on and take the jump, get

Kosher Curds – Making Kosher Cheese at Home

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Is Rennet Kosher? (Maybe Cheese Can’t Be Kosher???)

Rennet, it does a cheese good.

Rennet is the ingredient that allows milk to change from liquid into cheese.

There is a great misunderstanding regarding the concept of Rennet in the making of Kosher Cheese. Many believe that if cheese is made with animal rennet, there would be a violation of Basar vChalav (the prohibition of mixing/eating meat and diary).  I am glad to say that would not be the case.  How the animal rennet is obtained is where there is much concern though. Our sages made a ban on cheese that was made by non-Jews because of the fear that perhaps a piece of stomach was put in the milk and that is what made the cheese.

Everybody probably knows the story of how cheese came to being.  Once upon a time, there was a nomad that put his milk in his canteen pouch (made from an animal stomach) and went on his journey.  When he arrived to his destination he took the top off of the pouch held it to his mouth for a drink and out came a coagulated kind of cheesy thing.d  How did that happen? Well the heat warmed up the stomach bag as well as the milk that was in the pouch.  The rennen that was in the stomach lining acted on the milk and started the process of making curds.

So we see that it is true that by putting milk in side a dried animal stomach we can get curdled milk.  Is it kosher, no.  But what is rennet really?  Can it truly be Kosher?

Rennet is from an enzyme found in the 4th stomach of a kosher animal (animals that chew their cud have 4 stomachs).  It is known and documented that milk that has been obtained from non-kosher mammals can not be made into cheese.  The milk will simply not coagulate under normal circumstances.  So everybody that has heard of the Camel cheese craze, you need to understand that the Camel milk was combined with kosher milk,  and the kosher milk is making the cheese not the Camel milk.  This is even brought down in Rambam Halacha #12 which states in his sefer Mishnah Torah section Ma’achalot Assurot – Chapter 3:12

Halacha 12

The milk of a non-kosher animal will not congeal and solidify as the milk of a kosher animal does. If the milk of a non-kosher animal is mixed together with the milk of a kosher animal, when the mixture is [set aside for cheese to be made], the kosher milk will solidify and the non-kosher milk will be expelled together with the whey of the cheese.

In order for Rennet to be kosher though the animal needs to be schechted (slaughtered according to Jewish law) and deveined according to halacha (Jewish law).  Once this is done the milk stuff that is the stomach and full of rennin is removed and that is what is used to make milk (from a kosher animal) into cheese.  As this milk stuff has been already digested it does not have a status of food.

Since the process involved is time consuming and very expensive it is very rare that you will find Kosher rennet from an animal.

I read that there is someone in Israel that stated he is making rennet from the stomach of either cows or goats that had been killed on the road.  It would be true that he is making rennet, but the cheese that he makes from it is not fit for Jewish kosher consumption as the animal is a Nevaila (died from disease or injury).

All vegetable based coagulants (such as fig juice as used in days long gone) are Kosher, but only if they are added to milk by a Torah observant Jew will the cheese be kosher.  This is because of a halachic restriction from the time of the mishna

All Microbial enzyme is generally kosher and will follow the same rules as vegetable based coagulants (though it’s possible it may be grown on a non-kosher medium, and therefore should be checked or certified before purchase or use).

Feel free to enjoy some kosher cheese with your Shavuos holiday meals!

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The best Lasagna in Israel

The best Lasagna in Israel

lasagnaIf somebody comes to ISRAEL in the 2 weeks around Shavus they 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 grow up on sweet cheese blintzes for Shavous and a borscht drink, with stories from my mother (may she keep being with us for long time) on her home in Anthopol. And how they started to prepare the borscht on Chanukah , putting the beets in wooden barrels. The home made blintzes tasted so wonderful, but my mother used to say “ but this is nothing compare to the blintzes my mother  z”l used to prepared”, it was made from 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 Chalav Yisrael available to them).

Somehow when we got married slowly we moved from the traditional blintzes to the “Israeli” lasagnea.  It was easy to make (I always was embarrassed that I am deciding what dish to make based on how much less time it takes, (excuse me Grandma Rachel) and seems was a winner with family and guests.

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 (Welsh Cheddar). I will be honest and say I was not sure it it will be that yumee, and will pass the taste buds of our son and my mother.

I was not sure if these delicate cheeses without all the stabilizers will make it firm.

It was a surprise this was the best lasagna ever. A winner. Great (and healthier for children) and great for the most finiky of taste buds.

…..

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Making Your Own Cheese

Making Your Own Cheese

Making Your Own Cheese
Cheese Platter for Shavuos

There are many reasons that making your own cheese is something that can turn into more than just a hobby.  Below I have given a few reasons why I like to make my ownkosher cheese.

<- This was a cheese platter that I made for Shavuos a few years ago.  The fresh mozzarella was stuffed with smoked Salmon.

1.) You know your kashrut – the ingredients it contains. If you want to have a Chalav Yisrael cheese, you can make it with Chalav Yisrael cultures and Chalav Yisrael Milk. If Chalav Yisrael is not important then almost all cultures that you will find will be Kosher (Chalav Stam). They will be either OK-D/OU-D Stam.

2.) No artificial ingredients, preservatives, stabilizers.

3.) It can save you up to sixty percent of your dairy expenses (depending on the type of cheese you want to make).

4.) Making your own cheese connects you to nature.  As you begin the process, you should look for the best milk. In Israel, it is not so easy, as most if not all dairy farms have contracts with the major dairy companies here. But you can find some small goat farms that will help you out. Even though you are able to make cheese straight from the supermarket, knowing where the milk came from will add much more character to your cheese.

5.) It’s not an expensive hobby. All you need is a pot, thermometer, cheese cloth and basic cheese-making ingredients to be on your way to making cheese whenever you wish.

6.) Children love it. Kids love to make cheese and eat it. Cheese-making is a great activity for children to participate while learning. Cheese-making is also a unique way to teach science and chemistry to home-schooled children.

7.) It tastes great. No matter what type of cheese you make, you will be able to eat it. Some of the most famous rare cheeses were made by accident. Even if you think you made a big mistake with your cheese, just drain, salt and try it. You may not ever be able to repeat it (unless you kept notes), but you can enjoy it while it lasts.

8.) Cheese is a special treat. Homemade cheese will always be a winner at a party, a Kiddush, or a family gathering.

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Pig DNA found in Chocolate

Traces of pig DNA were found in Cadbury chocolate bars in Malaysia.

The Muslims have there own kosher laws, and their religion prohibits the consumption of or contact with pigs.  Naturally they were very upset with the finding of pig DNA in this candy bar .  Since the British chocolate company was purchased by Kraft Foods, questions were raised regarding the opig dnather dairy products of Kraft (like Oreo cookies).  (In the past pig milk, a very fatty milk, could be used to “enhance the quality” of cow milk or compensate for watering down the cow milk.)

Suddenly it becomes clear for the Kosher consumer that the whole issue of Chalav Stam vs Chalav Yisrael (cow milk in a Western Country under national standards versus Fully Kosher Supervised & Milked Milk) is not so simple. We are no longer in the days when food things were simple.  With all the modified additives that are popping up in the food industry, the unknowns become bigger and bigger.

(Interestingly butter made from Chalav Stam is permitted, as milk from non-kosher animals won’t churn into butter – at least it wouldn’t in the past.  Nowadays food technology can overcome the problem by adding additional oils– meaning butter today requires kosher supervision to guarantee it does not include non-kosher ingredients or come from non-kosher animals.)

Historically the restriction that was made was on milk from non-Jewish dairy farms was on liquid milk only, not on milk powder (what is used in most chocolate bars).  Yet we find the ingredients of milk powder are NO LONGER ONLY MILK… Milk Powder: nonfat dry milk, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3, sweet dairy whey, non fat dry milk solids, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and high fructose corn syrup. (Source)

Those ingredients are of particular note for those concerned about what corn products are doing to children and some of the behavior problems they are having, as well as diabetics or anyone with blood sugar problems.
For the kosher consumer they might be interested in all of the ingredients as well as the vegetable oil, the source and purity of each of which must be checked to make sure it’s not coming from a non-kosher source.

I myself am not in panic mode but it does make me think that when we looking at a heter (an easing or way around a restriction) in halacha (Jewish law), we need to truly look to see what the final impact will be.  The the food industry has become so complicated that maybe it is time for us to go back to purer or simpler sources such as, for the kosher consumer, dairies that follow fully kosher standards and supervision.  simple way of life and just go back to Jewish Milk.  Just food for thought.

Wishing all of you Happy Shavous and that you receive the Torah with Joy.