You can't really see three of the four cheeses from Penny's fall freshening, but you can imagine the deliciousness underneath that red cheese wax. The hard cheeses are being born about a week apart it seems. There are two Farmhouse Cheddars, a Parmesan, and a Romano. I ended up feeding a Manchego to the pigs because I had messed up so much of its timing while it was being made that the curds just wouldn't stick together. That fiasco was a direct result of muscle relaxers. Normally cheese mess-ups work out fine, sometimes even to my advantage.
As you can see, each cheese gets a cat scan before its wax coating.
I use raw milk, so to be perfectly safe from bad microbes, we wait at least two months to eat any of the hard cheeses.
There's a particularly lopsided Parmesan this time. That happened because I put the cheese mold in a five-gallon bucket, a dinner plate on top, with weights to press it. The plate tipped overnight and this cheese will have a variety of tastes within the different edges when it's ripe.
Lopsided cheese will be a thing of the past, however, after I ordered my handy-dandy professional cheese press from New England Cheesemaking!
I also ordered black wax and pure beeswax so Penny's cheeses will have a little variety in their looks.
I wax all my hard cheeses whether the recipe calls for it or not. So far the Romano in this batch is the only one that isn't supposed to have a waxed rind, so I will be interested to taste the final result this winter.
Yes, I've hatched a plan that involves a few of those exceptionally hot peppers in the background being pressed into service to create some Habanero Jack and some Habanero Cheddar.
Katie makes butter every morning with the cream she hand skims from Penny's milk.
Each quart jar she shakes makes one ball of butter. We had three today. I'll wash it and put it in a one-pound butter mold, then I'll quarter and wrap the sticks of butter and freeze them so we won't have to buy butter all year.
I thought after we milked Penny last time, I would be prepared for the sheer abundance of milk and cream she produces. But alas. I'm still overwhelmed with just the two and a half gallons a day she gives to us after she's fed Felicity about the same amount.
It takes two gallons to make a two pound cheese, so I'm able to make a hard cheese every day of the week and still have plenty of milk for all of our other dairy needs.
The two gallons that Katie skimmed for this bowl of butter will become a lower fat Romano cheese. Not low-fat, mind you. Low-er. There's still a whole lot of cream left in the milk!
Every time I carry a full bucket back up to the house through the little red gate I holler, "Thanks for the milk, Penny!" and each time she calls back, "Moooo!"