Learning the basics of homesteading, even if you are not fortunate enough to live on a rural farm surrounded by livestock, will increase your level of self-reliance skills while enhancing the chances of surviving a TEOTWAWKI disaster.
Homesteading skills will become valuable bartering items during a long-term disaster. If the power grid goes down or some other type of disaster disrupts the flow of goods, the unprepared masses will quickly be unable to feed themselves. Trading food and services will be far more valuable than cash or the debit card in your wallet.
Even if you have developed a sustainable homestead, there may very well still be the need for outside goods and services such as medical or dental care. Mastering new pioneering skills and stockpiling supplies to complete those tasks will enable you to increase bartering opportunities both during and after a doomsday scenario.
Making cheese is not a difficult process, just a time-consuming one with very specific instructions. The types of coagulants, ingredient amounts, and aging time varies depending on the type and amount of cheese being made. Watch the video below to learn how to acidify the milk and to watch step-by-step details about cheese-making techniques.
10 Basic Steps of Cheese-making
1. Milk your cow or purchase fresh milk
2. Acidify the milk
3. Add a coagulant to the mix
4. Test the firmness of the gel mix
5. Cut the curd from the cheese-making tub
6. Stir the curds thoroughly
7. Cook and wash the curds
8. Drain the water from the curds
9. Add salt to the curds
10. Allow the curds to age into cheese; this part requires a bit of patience
Some cheese makers prefer to use fresh, warm, whole milk from grass-fed cows they are raising or milk purchased from nearby farms. The ongoing debate regarding the health benefits of raw dairy vs. the dangers of raw milk still rages across America. Some prefer both the taste and health benefits of raw milk, while others steadfastly refuse to take the risk and heed CDC warnings about the consumption of raw milk and raw cheese.
Homesteaders and off the grid families are also known to pasteurize raw milk from their organically raised cows because they believe that the natural bacteria in the milk will “compete” with specific types of cheese molds and decrease the bacteria that needs to grow to form the type of desired cheese. To pasteurize raw milk, pour the liquid into a stainless steel double boiler or cast-iron kettle and heat it to 145 degrees for 30 minutes. Then place the pot in a refrigerator until the temperature has decreased by 40 degrees.
Store-bought milk, even low-fat milk, can be used to make cheese. However, you do not want to use any type of commercially sold milk that says it was “ultra-pasteurized.” The high temperature pasteurization allows the milk to be shipped long distances and stored without needing to be refrigerated. The somewhat shelf-stable milk can sit out on the counter for a few weeks without going rancid, but it absolutely cannot be used to make cheese.
Cultures or Coagulants
Cheese cultures, or starters, are made from a variety of acids, molds and bacteria that allow the mix to coagulate and create specific flavors. These can be purchase online or at natural food stores and stockpiled until needed for use.
Gel or Rennet
Rennet is a substance that can be purchased in a powder, liquid or tablet form. It is basically a collection of enzymes that cause the solid particles in the milk to separate and form curds and whey. Rennet has long been made from the stomach lining of a baby ruminant — a grazing animal. The enzymes present in the stomach lining allow the infant to digest its mother’s milk.
Vegetable rennet also works in the cheese-making process and is commonly available for purchase from natural food stores and online. This type of rennet is made from plants like thistle and fig, which have coagulating properties.
Salt is an important part of the cheese-making process. It draws out excess moisture, enhances the flavor, and preserves the cheese. Iodized salt should not be used because it kills the emerging starter bacteria. The specialty cheese-making salt used is more coarse than standard table salt.
The cheese press contains the growing cheese and helps it to firm up as it ages and matures. You can buy a press quite easily, but there is really no need to go to the added expense. Make multiple cheese presses now so that you can make large batches of cheese after the SHTF, or you can barter the homesteading tool for items you are lacking. Sizes of the needed items vary and can be adapted to suit your needs. Watch the video below for detailed instructions on how to make a simple cheese press.
Cheese Press Making Supplies
• Enamel or stainless steel pan with handles
• Bowl with a flat bottom
• Piece of drainpipe to house the cheese
• Tin pan, which will sit inside the drainpipe
• Glass jar
• Inner tube from a bicycle, which can be attached to one of the pan handles
• 5 pieces of paver brick pieces or small, flat rocks
• A hook that can be attached to one end of the inner tube
• A piece of rounded wood that can be set on the drain pipe
Cheese Press Making Guide
1. Place the flat-bottomed bowl turned upside down, into the pan.
2. Set the drain pipe on top of the bowl.
3. Put the cheese inside and place the piece of wood on top of the drain pipe to serve as a lid.
4. Set the milk tin on top of the wood lid.
5. Place the glass jar inside the tin. The tin should be the same size in diameter as the wood lid to ensure that the pressure placed on the cheese is even.
6. Stretch the tire inner tube over the top of the press and tie it onto the pan handle. Make sure the uninflated inner tube lies completely flat.
7. Secure it in place, attaching the hood to the handle of the pan.
8. Balance one brick or rock on top of the glass jar/inner tube top.
9. Each day add another brick or rock on top until all are used and the cheese has been pressed down as far as it can go.
What are you favorite cheese recipes?[Image via Wikipedia Commons/ P. B. Obregón]