Since I made my first ricotta and went on to make cannoli with it I have been fascinated with the whole process. I found that when you drain the cheese you end up with not just cheese, but also whey. I have been using it as a substitute for other liquids in recipes. It is great in grits, bread and anywhere you need moisture. I also discovered while researching uses for whey, that you can make your own fermented foods that are good for you, like homemade probiotic. So far the sauerkraut is the best but I haven’t really eaten the gingered carrots as they are still pretty fresh. The recipes I have found on the web refer to whey that has been drained from things like yogurt so I started draining it off of greek yogurt and Kefir. Now I have found that you can get kefir grains and make your own. This led to reading about cultivating mother cultures for different cheese starters so you don’t have to keep spending money on them and the latest was making blue cheese from homegrown blue mold made on a piece of sourdough bread. So first thing I did was pull out the sourdough starter, thaw it out and feed it. It didn’t seem to be active enough last time so I added 1/2 cup of rye flour mixed with 1/4 cup distilled water before bed and then did it again with bread flour in the morning. I’ll do it again before bed and then bake some sourdough tomorrow. It smells good and the rye flour really seemed to kick it back into gear. From what I have read both rye and bread flour are good for that. Next I will smear a dab of blue cheese on a slice of the sourdough bread and start growing some mold. They say that the sourdough inhibits growth of the wrong types of mold.
Right now I have a lactic cheese draining on the counter, the sourdough next to it and am about to shred some cabbage for more sauerkraut and start picking herbs to make a garlic and herb cheese spread. I can’t afford to buy those expensive cheese spreads so I am going to give it a try. There are a bunch of very similar recipes out there so I just picked one that sounds good and am going from there. Since I grow my own I am not using dried herbs. I also make jelly once or twice a year and then have a jelly strainer sitting there for the rest of the year. I have started using the frame for hanging cheese to drain, the bag for straining yogurt and small amounts of cheese and also as a cover for my sourdough starter when it is out on the counter.
So here’s the sauerkraut recipe:
In my food processor, I shred a small head of green cabbage and a large carrot. I discovered today that it is better to use the largest opening of my feed shoot as it leaves the shreds of cabbage longer. Put it in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1 TBSP of pickling or kosher salt. Mix well and beat down with a potato masher until the cabbage has really started to soften and release it’s juices. Also learned this time since my back hurts so bad today that you don’t have to mash down the veggies for 15 min. like most recipes say to. Sprinkle in the salt and let it sit for 1/2 hour and do something else. Mash it down for a min. and then do something else for another 1/2 hour. I did this 3 times and made 3 dozen lemon cookies in between mashing and the liquid is doing pretty good.
As you can see the cabbage is too small here because I used the smaller feed tube instead of taking my time and cutting the chunks of cabbage to fit. I will eat it anyway and do it right next time.
Toss in a tsp of caraway seeds and 4 TBSP of whey. This time I am using Kefir whey. Put it in a 2 qt. jar with a lid. If there is not enough not liquid to cover then mix 1 tsp salt (kosher or pickling) with 1 cup of distilled or filtered water and add enough to cover cabbage. Close and sit on the counter for 3 days. By then it should be ready to go in the fridge where is can keep for at least 2 months. Use your nose for all this stuff, the sauerkraut, the sourdough. If something doesn’t smell good get rid of it. Since I am learning all this stuff from the internet (other blogs), cheese making websites and trial and error I try to post the things I have questioned or discovered. Like it really helps to have a canning funnel when putting things in the jar to ferment.
The only way I am able to do all this today is…..I started the cheese last night, the sourdough months ago, started straining the kefir two days ago and took out a package of frozen, pre-seasoned and formed hamburgers that my very good friend and taste tester will cook on the grill for dinner tonight. I made cabbage rolls and homemade pierogi a couple of days ago so am taking a mini break from big dinners. Will try to work on the cabbage rolls and pierogi post tomorrow but as many back breaks as I had to take today there are no guarantees.
I forgot to finish the cheese so here it is after draining for 8 hours.
I put the herbs in my salad spinner, sprayed with the sink sprayer, spun them and dried on a kitchen towel. I chopped by hand but then put the herbs in my mini processor (dry) and chopped them a little more. I didn’t go out to pick peppers, but they were ripe and pretty so I left them in the picture. I used:
16 oz. of the lactic cheese
1 overflowing TBSP dill
2 TBSP parsley
1 1/2 tsp thyme
2 TBSP chives
2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
3 cloves grated garlic
3 TBSP fresh grated parmesan
cracked pepper and salt to taste (very important)
It’s in the fridge getting to know each other (the flavors). This is not quite the same as the recipes I found out there, but then most of the things I make have my own twists and changes. That’s one of the things that make cooking or anything else fun. Make it your own!