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.

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

boccacini_thumb.png

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.

 

Am Yisrael, the Torah and Milk!

Am Yisrael, the Torah and Milk!

When making cheese you need to acidify (change the internal property of the milk) so it can accept the rennet and form a curd to make into cheese.

Last week I had the privilege to deliver two workshops in the Holy city of Tzfat. The workshops were both held in the same place, the milk was from the same store, and the same company (that now belongs to the Chinese) as well as the ingredients that I have been using for these workshops for months and yet the the two workshops had totally different results from those that attended.

The first workshop started out with 6 people and then we had another show up. We started with making Ricotta and everybody had a wonderful yield. This was the best I had seen yet. The participants were really enjoying themselves. One had brought Goat milk so this was going to be a real treat for her family and friends. Pots were washed and we were ready to get going with making Mozzarella. Milk was heated, ingredients were added and then when were ready to get to the main part of the cheese making process we remembered that we didn’t have any electricity. Yep, we had forgotten about the fact that the electricity had gone off. Well thank goodness, that we had a back up plan and that was to use the old fashioned way of heating water (on the stove top). What was the drawback it takes about 45 minutes to get 8 liters of water heated up to about 185F. But we were able to do it. Then a very strange thing happened, the curds did not meld together. Then just stayed grainy and more like a rubber ball. I kept thinking as each participant was putting their hard earned curds in to the warm water and nothing. Ok, there were three that were able to get a nice stretch and make a beautiful mozzarella, but for the others nothing, nadda, zilch. I thought that was probably the worst workshop that I had given to date, but the bottom line was that everybody went home happy and one even said that if we didn’t have this problem she never would have figured out how to do this part.

Workshop number two started on time, we had four participants all seemed in good spirits except for I couldn’t help but notice that one just seemed to have a bit of negativity in the way things were going. It was strange, I had just finished talking about how each of us will be making the same cheese, but it will not be the same at all. Why? Because we are not the same, are thoughts, energy patterns will all be infused into the creation and it will just come out different. It will look the same, but it will not feel the same, nor taste the same.
Once again, the ricotta was wonderful except for one. The yield was much smaller than everybody else. Then we tasted some wonderful garlic ricotta, tzfatit, and fresh mozzarella that I brought for people to snack on. I had spent the day before making these cheeses for the workshop. Pots were washed and we were ready for part two. Making Mozzarella. We checked to make sure that we had electricity. Ok, milk was heated, ingredients were added and curds were being formed all except for one person. I told her, just wait it will happen, but she said that it wasn’t going to work and that she wasn’t going to have anything. One person had mentioned at the beginning of the class that she wanted to see the water bath method as she doesn’t have the electric appliance that is used so we had the water already heated in time. Shiny ball number one came out and was plopped in the ice water. “Wow, this is so COOL” was the first thing I heard. Then I heard “I still don’t have anything, it isn’t working, it won’t work” I said, “It will work, it is just going slowly, be patient”. Melded curds number two came out and this one was able to stretch for ever. It was formed into a ball and placed into the ice water. I looked over to see what was happening with the slow curd and it was taking a shape, it was happening the curd was forming. Into the waterbath and then out and kneaded with a spoon over and over again and then it turned shiny. It was braided and dumped into the ice water.

Then it was time for the slow starter. The participant cut her curds and let them dispel the whey, then she strained the whey out and put the curd mass into the dish to be heated. One, two, and then three times it was wonderful, there was the stretch, it kept going, and going and the smile on the participants face kept glowing and glowing. It was pure magic. The participant left happy, and I said “good things come to those who can wait”

So, why did I share all this information with you?
Beis Sivan (Last Shabbas) was the day that Moshe Rabbeinu was preparing Am Yisrael to receive the Torah. He was explaining some things that probably made a few uncomfortable. These teachings were needed to allow us to receive the greatest gift that mankind has ever received. There were probably those that were happy to get these teachings because they knew that they would never have figured them out on their own,  Then there were probably a few that complained about it being hard, or it wasn’t going be worth it etc…

We have just finished counting the Omer. This counting is very much like adding the acid to the milk, it is stirring us up daily and changing our insides (our middot) until we come to the point that we are ready to receive the agent that will bind us all together. The Torah is like rennet. It is the only thing that will bind Am Yisrael as one solidified unit. It is what makes Am Yisrael. Without it, we are just like acidic milk and we all know what happens to that.

Wishing all of you a Chag Shavuos Sameach

Dovid

koshercurds.com – 100% Kosher Home Cheese Making supplies. Making Kosher Cheese at home is: Healthier, Mehadrin kosher and saves you money! contact us for: For supplies, Workshops and counseling.

Chalav Yisrael – Food for Thought

PIG DNA IN CHOCOLATE IN MALAYSIA – FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Traces of Pig in DNA were found in Cadbury chocolate bars in Malaysia. The Muslims that live there are religious and were very upset about this.  Since the British chocolate company was purchased by KRAFT, questions were raised regarding the other dairy products of Kraft (like Orion cookies etc).

Here is the full article: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/may/28/pork-in-cadburys-malaysian-chocolate-recalled-after-dna-traces-found

Suddenly it becomes clear for the Kosher consumer that the whole issue of Chalav Stam vs Chalav Yisrael is not so simple. We are no longer in the days when things were simple.  With all the modified additives that are popping up in the food industry, the unknown becomes bigger and bigger.

True that the gazera that was made was on milk from non-Jewish dairy farms and not on milk powder (what is used in most chocolate bars).

Food for thought note: Now for those that read any articles regarding what corn products are doing to children and some of the behavior problems they are having, they might be interested in knowing that some of the ingredients of powdered milk  are the following:

The ingredients in milk powder is nonfat dry milk, vitamin A palmitate, and vitamin D3. The ingredients usually also include sweet dairy whey, non fat dry milk solids, partially hydro-generated vegetable oil, and corn syrup. (Source

For the kosher consumer they might be interested in all of the dairy ingredients as well as the vegetable oil.

Food for thought note: I myself will not go into panic mode but it does once again make me think that when we looking at a heter in halacha we need to truly look to see what the final impact could have on us as the the food industry is getting so complicated, and maybe it is just the time for us to go back to the simple way of life and just go back to Jewish Milk  Or … just Food for thought.

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

Dovid Wheeler

 

koshercurds.com100% Kosher Home Cheese Making supplies and workshops.