Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our first parmesan!

Saturday night, I remembered that Mike had made parmesan cheese 18 months ago and put it in our cheese cave, the four-foot by four-foot area under our kitchen porch. There is access through the basement, so it's not quite as primitive as it sounds. When we built this house, I specifically told the man pouring the concrete that we needed the space under the kitchen porch for a cheese cave. (He was going to fill it in with gravel!) Mike had become discouraged the last time he looked at the cheese more than a year ago, because the mold had seriously taken over. Well, as you can see, the mold thrived in the dark, moist environment of our cheese cave.

I told Mike that the books say you should scrub the cheese with a vinegar-soaked cheesecloth, which he dissed because, first, it would undoubtedly ruin the cheesecloth, and second, he questioned the need for vinegar. I have no idea why you're supposed to do those things -- I just repeat what the books say. So, I left him and his cheese in the kitchen. When I returned, the cheese had an interesting brown, speckled look to it, but the fuzz was gone, so it seemed promising. First, Mike tried to cut off the skinniest bit of rind, but it was very hard -- literally, hard! Then he decided that it might be better if he just cut a huge chunk off. He reasoned that perhaps it was softer once you moved away from the edge, since it probably would not have dried out as much. That appeared to work.

Then he proceeded to cut the parmesan into more useable sizes and cut off the hard rind from the edges. We gave a piece to Porter, and he survived, although considering what dogs can survive, I don't think that it's a good judge of whether a food is safe or not. After all, they eat raw meat that is seriously deteriorating, and they're perfectly fine -- like the coyotes that ate the six-month-dead beaver that had been decomposing in a tree for Katherine's skeleton collection. But I digress . . .

I had been in another room when Mike was cutting up the cheese, and I told him that was a bad idea, because now all those edges could start to grow mold. Then he got an idea -- why don't we use that fancy vaccuum sealer thingie that I bought on sale last week? So, that's what we did! The cheese is quite sealed, so I hope it lasts!

Last night we melted some of the grated parmesan on garlic toast, and it was delicious! Goat milk parmesan does have a different taste than the stuff you buy in the store, but then everything homemade tastes different. Like most homemade things, it has a stronger, fresher taste with no strange aftertaste at all. At the risk of sounding like an alien (since everyone eats and thinks they know all about food), once you're accustomed to eating all made-from-scratch foods, you start tasting every little nuance, and you recognize it. Yeah, that's kind of scary. As I was eating the garlic toast, I was thinking, "Yeah, it's parmesan! But what's that taste? Ah, it's the goat milk!" It's way better than eating some packaged food with 18 ingredients and wondering, "What is that weird aftertaste? Ah, it's monoturbophenomenabarbaracidal-stuff!" Yeah, now that's really scary!


Susan said...

That is too cool!

The cheese wheel definitely looks funky, in a good way. But it's easy to forget where our food comes from and what it looks like when it hasn't been 'prettied up'.

Very inspiring and I'm looking around for a cheese cave space. 'course...I need the goats first.

Deborah said...

The transformation is amazing, isn't it! It's hard to believe that the grated cheese looks just like what you buy in the store, but the big hunk of cheese looks way different!

I just realized that I need to do the math to figure out exactly how many goats I need to keep so that we can make enough cheese for ourselves after the kids leave. I'd been thinking that I only needed a couple, but when I start thinking about how much we make with the milk ... I don't know!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I love eating chunks of fresh parmesan, so my mouth is watering right now!

Frieda said...

I am so glad I found your post! I made parm 4 months ago and was wondering if the 'brown-ish tan' stuff was normal. After seeing your photos, I'm encouraged to continue on. Thanks!

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Glad we could help! Looks pretty scary, doesn't it?


Related Posts with Thumbnails