Getting Ready for Shavuot

Shavuot are we ready!

shavuotWhat have we done.  The last 7 weeks we have been working on ourselves (counting the Omer) to be spiritually ready to receive the greatest gift to the Jewish people ever.   Everyday we have been working on fine tuning ourselves just right.  We have waited and waited and the time has finally come for us to get the Torah.  Not as individuals, but as a collective unit.  We all will receive the Torah this Sunday again just as or Neshamas received it over 3000 years ago.

So what does this have to do with making cheese?  Great question.

spicymozzarellaAs we all know there is a minhag to have a dairy meal during the holiday of Shavuot.  My family has only dairy meals and I make a lot of cheese for this one day holiday here in Israel.  This year I made Spicy Mozzarella, Ricotta (my wife makes the best lasagna), Halloumi (without mint) Fresh Feta, and Caerphilly.  Yep, all of those for our festive meals.

I gave a workshop the other night and the one thing that many people want to know is does it take a long time.  Well the answer is sort of yes.  What I mean to say is that the preparation of making the cheese does take time, just like making sour dough bread.  You are creating a new thing out of something that was already there.  We need to warm it up, and let it get ready to change into something that is worth eating and this can take time. But the final product is what you had in mind and the taste is what you were looking for.  In the end the time invested was well worth it.

I thought that this was very much in sync with what Hashem had in mind when he took us DrainandDryout of Egypt so many years ago.  The journey was long and hard. But we were not just going on a tour, we were going through a change.  A change that was needed in order for us to be who we are , Am Yisrael a nation that needed to become warm in order to receive the Torah.  That is one of the reasons that Amalek attacked us.  We were getting to warm, wewere getting fired up about the Torah.

Today is no different, in the Alter Rebbe’s siddur we are told Fresh Fetato remember leaving Egypt every day.  We need to remember that everyday is a new day with new challenges, but we have the strength to go on and by learning a bit of Torah everyday we are renewing our connection with not only Hashem but his world.  We can become warm again and make the changes that are needed to make this a better place all.

Mozzarella 002Since the second night of Pesach until tonight, we have been counting the Omer, refining ourselves, becoming warm for the reception of the biggest light ever given.  This has been happening daily and we are finally ready, each and everyone of us to receive the Torah. Like the making of cheese (L’havdil) we are already here. But everyday we need to change in order to become great.  Yes, it does take time.

Wishing all of you

Chag Shavuot Semach

May you receive the Torah with Simcha and Pinyumut.

Blue Cheese Is Now Super Kosher Easy

Blue Cheese – No need to be Blue Anymore

blue cheeseI love when the kosher world makes updates to products.  Yes, sometimes they are a warning but other times they are a real pick me up such as the one that I received in my email today.

 

Dear Rabbi Wheeler,
You are subscribed to K-ID VWM-MQXK by Sacco Srl . This K-ID has been updated by the certifying  agency (OK Kosher Certification).

The K-ID changes include:
Issued Date changed
        From: 2014-09-10
        To: 2015-04-13
Kosher Status change
        From: Dairy
        To: Pareve

Restriction change
        From: OK D SYMBOL
        To: OK SYMBOL

What does this mean for all of us that want to make a nice CY Blue Cheese.  It means that we don’t have to create a culture like I outlined here in a previous post.

I am looking forward to being able to supply this product to all of you and will keep you posted.

Pesach Kosher V’Semach

I know that I have not been writing for about 3 months.  To be totally honest, I just really didn’t have anything special that I wanted to write about.  Writers block, and friends moving back to the states really have taken their toll on me.

Never the less I really want to wish all koshercurd nerds a very Happy and Kosher Pesach.

UPDATE

The new Chalav Yisrael starter cultures have arrived in Israel including PC for Camembert and Brie.

Working on the Camembert workshop.  If you are interested in hosting this workshop in your area (Israel) please fill out the form below

Looking forward to hearing from all of you and what cheeses you are currently making.

 

 

Mehadrin Blue Cheese at Home

Making your own Chalav Yisrael Blue Cheese culture

blue cheese

I love Blue cheese.  I love Stilton, and I love Gorgonzola.  However, making these cheeses at home for the Chalav Yisrael cheese maker is not so easy.  The cultures are expensive, and they are not available for the Chalav Yisrael home cheese maker.

This has been a real problem for me, and for many out there that would really like to make these cheeses, but not able to find the culture.

Penicillium roquefortii is the culprit and this mold is available in a kosher form.  It would be Chalav Stam, but then the price comes into play.  It is around $17.00 for about 2 grams. That’s pretty expensive.

PR A Sacco Chalav Stam Kashrut Certificate.
PR A Sacco Chalav Stam Kashrut Certificate.

So you can’t truly appreciate how excited I was when I came across this recipe for making my own Blue Cheese culture (Penicillium roquefortii).  At last, I will be able to make some these wonderful cheeses.

I will share the secret with you on how this culture can be grown and harvested giving you fresh and natural Penicillium roquefortii to add to what ever cheese you wish to make and then add the blue vein along with the flavor.

The key ingredient is fresh Sour Dough bread.  If you purchase from the store make sure that it is only sour dough starter, flour, salt and water.  I know that this is a blog about cheese and cheese cultures, but I feel that if you really want a taste of the past you should make your own bread as well.  The way this culture was grown for years.

Lets get started:

As there are many recipes out there for making sour dough, I will give you the one that I have been using for weeks now with great results.  It is simple and requires two simple things.  Flour and Water.

How its done

3/4 cup + 2 Tbls flour

1/2 cup water

For five days you will repeat this step.

The only step: Mix the above ingredients in a glass container (about 1 liter/quart).  Leave the lid ajar or cover with cheese cloth.

On day five either make bread or continue doing the same thing.  If you will be taking a break from feeding the starter then put the lid on tight and place in the fridge.  When you are ready to start up again, take 1/2 of the starter out and get rid of it and continue on with the “only step”.

When you want to make bread you will need the following:

1/4 cup water (I use look warm)

2 cups starter

4 cups flour (add more if too sticky)

2 Tbls salt

1 Tbls olve oil

More water (this you will have to feel what is right for you)

Dissolve the starter in the water

Add the Flour, Salt and Oil

Mix well adding water to make the dough (should not be tacky)  Knead about 8 minutes

Cover with plastic wrap (i put a match box with striking side against the plastic to speed up the rising time) and place in a warm are to rise.  This will take about 2-4 hours.  If left over a 24 hour period of time you will now have a bread that is 99% Gluton Free.

Take out and knead for another 5 minutes

Seperate into two loaves and let sit for 20 minutes on backing sheet

Cover and let rise until double in size

Bake (hottest setting your oven will go) spritz water into the oven after they are in to create a steam that will form the crust.

30 minutes take out if ready

Okay, now that we have our sour dough bread lets take a bit of chalav yisrael blue cheese and place on the bread.  Put in your plastic container and cover for about 1 week.  The mold should take over the entire piece of bread.

Once the bread is totally consumed by the blue mold you want to dry it out.  Open your plastic container and leave it out for another week.  The bread will dry out.  Put the likd back on and the molded bread will be preserved for many years.

To User the Mold

To use the mold you will need to transfer some of the mold to the milk that you are making your cheese.  You break a small piece of bread into about 1 tsp of water.  You would strain the liquid into the milk at the same time as you are going to add your starter culture to the milk.  You will not notice and effect of the mold on the cheese until it begins to grow on it surface and if you have pricked the cheese to make aeration holes you will see that they are starting to fill with blue mold as well.

Well, there you have it.  Now all you need to do is get ready to take my Molded Cheese workshop which will be coming out in a few months to make this Blue Cheese.

If you are interested please leave a comment below with the city (In Israel) that you are living in.

 

 

 

 

Caerphilly does it in Tzfat

Caerphilly (pronounced carefilly) Workshop success!

caerphillyYesterday, I completed a great hard cheese workshop in the holy city of Tzfat. The cheese that we made is a wonderful cheddar type cheese from Wales. It is called Caerphilly. There are a few wonderful elements to making this cheese. The first is that the taste is AMAZING, and the second is that it is ready to eat within 2 weeks time after pressing. So that means by the end of Chanukah it will be ready. The group that came was amazing. The atmosphere was one of excitement.

We did start later than I wanted, but it didn’t seem to bother people from having a great time and getting the cheese from pot to press in time.

This cheese is one of my favorites and I am sure that it will be the hit with many of the participants as well.

As the process of making a hard cheese takes several hours there was enough time for talk and tasting of some fresh cheeses that I had brought for people to sample.

I think that my favorite picture is the thermometer standing by itself in the curds after they have set.  This was a first for me.

At the end of the entire process everybody walked away with about 1kg of Caerphilly cheese that they took home to dry and then age.

I am looking forward to hearing from all that took part in the workshop with regards to how their cheese tasted as well as what the family and friends thought.

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Fresh Kosher cheddar cheese in Efrat

 Kosher Cheddar Cheese (Efrat Style)

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The kosher curd nerds of Efrat seem to really love to make fresh kosher cheese and for them to make a nice kosher cheddar cheese I thought would just make many very happy. It has been taking a very long time, but I have finally been able to have the Kosher Cheddar Cheese workshop take place.  It is the first time that this workshop has been done in English only in Israel and I am proud to say that once again I had the pleasure of being hosted by the Leavitt family in Efrat once again for the first Kosher Welsh Cheddar Cheesemaking workshop in Israel.

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This family are true partners in making sure that the word is out when a workshop is going to take place.  I just can’t say how much I appreciate all the work they did to make this workshop happen.  Thank you.

The turn out was smaller than what we thought, but it was a great day of cheese making and discussing the kashrut issues of hard cheese making.

The cheese that we made is Kosher Cheddar Cheese called Caerphilly.  It is a Welsh Cheddar style cheese that is crumbly and salty (and not usually kosher).  There are many versions as to how this cheese can be made, for this workshop I took the one that will produce the quickest results without spending more time than needed to get it from pot to press and finally to mouth.  My intention is to have a salty cheese ready for Chanukah and this cheese will fit the bill.

 

tnuvah

Like all of my workshops, this cheese uses regular Tnuva 3% sack milk.  Once again,only this milk can be used to make cheese at home (unless you have your own animals). This milk is the only milk from the store which we are able to make cheese with here in Israel.

 

IMG-20140904-WA0023We started the process of ripening the milk by adding are Mesophilic starter culture to the milk.  Once the milk ripened we added the rennet.  In this recipe I used the liquid rennet instead of the powder rennet.  With hard cheeses, the powder rennet might tend to give a bitter taste if aging for more than a few months.  The curds were formed in about 1 hour and ready to be cut.

The process to make hard cheeses can take any time from 3 to 6 hours before getting it to the press.  We were hoping to have it in the press within 3 hours time but it did take us about 5 hours from the time we started.

 

20141120_171919The curds are cut and then slowly heated to 1 degree more.

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The whey was really starting to be released and we were getting to a nice curd mass that we were going to then drain, then cheddar and drain some more before milling, salting and putting it in the press.

 

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The curds can be somewhat hypnotizing and many were getting lost as their constant change was taking place.

After the curds have been cut and whey has been released.  We need to drain them.  This is done by putting them in the cheesecloth and colander.

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Once they have drained for around 5-10 minutes we need to mill them and add the salt.

One of the great parts of this workshop is you get a cheese press (if you want). You are not able to make a hard cheese without a press, so to have one included in the basic kosher cheddar cheese making kit was a great whey for the participants to start making this cheese instantly.  Our host even made his family press, and I had mine that I purchased from the states many years ago.  The pressure was applied by bricks, spring, and straight pressure applied by hand.  Below are the different presses that we used to make our cheese.

Kosher cheddar cheese

 

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Well, the next day came and not everybody was able to make it to the unwrapping, drying stage of the workshop so my host family, one participant and myself were able to take out of the press and unwrap and start the air drying process of about 6kg of a wonderful Caerphilly cheese.  The cheese will be in the air for about 4-5 days before being placed in the fridge for final aging.

Taking the Cheese out of the mold, Paring the left over, tasting a bit before it dries Yumm!!!

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This cheese is one of my favorites because it can be aged for a s little as 14 days, but to really get a nice surprise it is better to wait another 14 days.  This is not a cheese that you want to age for long time though.  It was traditionally made and eaten within the month. Below is the cheese getting ready to spend some time alone.

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What does your child have in his/her sandwich for school?

In honour of the new coming year  – What your child has in his/her sandwich for school?

Being busy with the beginning of the school year I had forgotten to publish this blog which was written 2 weeks ago at some g_dly hour at night.

 I thought it was still too important of a message to ignore and can be suggested as a good resolution for the new year which will B”H impact our children’s well being.

 It seems this year, Sept 1st came earlier than ever.  It could be with the war in Gaza, could be that just time goes faster then ever, could be that because our son is joining school after being homeschooled for 3 years (by his choice).

Sandwich for school
Is this your child’s lunch?

 However almost without noticing we found ourselves facing Sept 1st. We were not really prepared and unfortunately my husband did not get to make homemade cheese for awhile being busy in workshops (thank G-D), proving the saying that “the shoemaker walks bare feet”. So the first few days the sandwiches consisted of eggs and cucumbers and [ some tuna , along with some vegetables and fruits. Then I bought some store cheese (I think it was cottage)…When Dovid saw this he just gave us a look as if (how dare we think of enjoying that stuff…) that was enough, last night he was up till 1am making homemade Mozzarella. I shared with Dovid  the joy this Mozzarella was greeted in the morning by our son, he was excited  like he was meeting an old friend he really missed! I hope it was enjoyed by him inside the whole wheat bread sandwich.

 Since our son has started school we hear some live descriptions about the other children sandwiches: white bread with chocolate spread, Fanta or Coke as a drink …. Should I go on?

 I thought that a campaign for healthier sandwiches should be carried out. Approaching the New Year it could be a good new year resolution to have healthier sandwiches for our children as an expression of our commitment to their well being.  For those readers that have been in one of the Koshercurd Cheesemaking workshops I hope your children will enjoy your homemade mozzarella sandwich for school.

 I bless all of us with Ktiva and Chatime Tova, to To a healthy good and sweet* year

Rachel Wheeler

* Sweet – sweet not by candies or sugar, but by having all of the verdicts been sweetened.

Cheese Making in Givat Shmuel

Where to find fresh Kosher Mozzarella and Ricotta in Givat Shmuel

This question probably has not passed many people’s minds as they are driving down Highway 471 from Kvish 6 and wanting to get into Petak Tikvah or Tel Aviv or Bnei Brak for that matter.  Well, after last week I imagine that there are at least 7 families that can answer that question.  The answer would be at their houses, located in the neighborhood of Givat Shmuel .

Yep, another kosher cheesemaking workshop took place and this time it was hosted by a wonderful family that has a son that loves Mozzarella balls.  Well, from now on that will not a be a problem as his mother can make this wonderful little fresh bocconcini  it the call of a dime.  They will be ready within 45 minutes from the time she starts and inside his little tummy (if he wants them still warm).

Correct Milk

tnuvahI can’t express this enough.  If you live in Israel and you want to make cheese at home from store bought milk, you will need to purchase Tnuvah 3% milk.  Does it matter if it is in a bag or a carton? No, just the bag is cheaper and I believe that we should be saving money as well as having a great cheese.

Some did show up with Tahara milk.  Great package that they have, but it is not milk that one can make cheese with.  It has been ultra heat pasteurized (I will be talking about that in the next blog), you can not make cheese with this type of milk.  They went back out and were able to exchange for the Tnuva milk.

hanging ricotta
Ricotta Cheese Draining

Making The Cheese

One of the most exciting parts of this workshop is the magical conversion from the milk to become curds and whey and then cheese.  Starting with the Ricotta cheese we see how it truly will staIMG-20140904-WA0023rt to become curds very quickly as we acidify the milk.  The curds will slowly develop and then form a curd mass that will be hung up to drain.

 

Some times, when hanging our cheese to drain, something bad could happen and then we have a huge mess on our hands (or our feet in this case).    This was truly a very sad moment when this happened.   However, we were able to save about 1/4 cup of this amazing cheese. Givat Shmuel - Cheese

 

 

 

Equipment in Cheese Making

home cheese equipmentAs we continued on our journey about making cheese at home, we spoke about many of the molds, presses and wax and rennet (enzyme).   One of the best aspects of doing this workshop in a persons home is that the host gets to see how to it will be making the cheese in their space.

The last item that we speak about before getting ready to make our Mozzarella is the rennet (enzyme).  This the fascinating part of the cheese making process that turns white liquid into a gelatin type substance that we can cut and then turn into many different types of cheeses.  The enzyme that we use in the Kosher Cheesemaking workshop is a Microbacterial enzyme (not from cow) but from a mushroom.  It is non-GMO and 100% kosher.

Mozzarella uhmmm!

What all were waiting for.  The final part of this workshop is what many people are waiting for.  The making of the mozzarella.  The whole process when done at home will take about 35-40 minutes using the technique that is taught in the workshop.  The traditional method will take about 6 hours.

What you get at the end the workshop is this…

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What an amazing Mozzarella Stretch.  NIce work E.S. from Givat Shmuel.

One of the great things about the Koshercurds Kosher Cheesemaking workshop being a mobile workshop is that people are aware of it.

This past Shabbat, I was visiting friends who had guests and do you know where they were from.  That’s right, they were from Givat Shmuel and they had heard of the workshop from friends that were there.

In closing, I just want to say that Koshercurd Nerds from Givat Shmuel thank you from the bottom of my heart for a wonderful and fun evening.

 

 

 

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.