Farmsteadfresh's Blog

Farmstead Fresh September 2013 Newsletter
September 4, 2013, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Organic cheese


1. Lenore: What sparked your interest in making Raw Milk Cheese?

Jemima: As a girl growing up, my Mom always made our own yogurts, mozzarella, cottage cheese etc. We always had one to two family Jersey cows. When I was 14 years old I made Mozzarella for the first time. That was so amazing to me that I could turn milk into something so tasty. That intrigued me to learn more about hard cheese, cultures etc. I am 19 years old now. My first press was a stainless steel ice cream freezing can with holes drilled into it, which my Dad made for me. I thought I really had something!

2. Lenore: How did you find out about my father, Eldore Hanni, as a Cheese Maker Trainer?

Jemima: When it was first in our mind to move on from making cheese in the kitchen to a larger scale, the first step we made was to inquire our Pa Dept of Agriculture Inspector. He was very helpful and through him we first heard about Eldore. After he trained me he was no longer able to make cheese on his own so he started buying from us.

3. Lenore: What were the most important tools about making cheese that Eldore taught you?

Jemima: If Ma says “Dinners Ready”, you’ll have to say, “Sorry Ma, I’m making cheese.” In other words stay with it! Stay tuned on to what’s going on in your vat. Any little change or missed move makes a big difference in the end. He also wouldn’t have taught me to make cheese without an acid tester, which keeps cheese consistent. I consider it my “Boss”. Now Eldore is here no longer but his recipes are still valued in our operation, knowing through all the 70 plus years of honing his craft the knowledge I gained from him was hard earned and is cherished!

4. Lenore: What challenges have you had to face since Eldore’s passing?

Jemima: Oh! The first thing to learn was Eldore was no longer a phone call away when something would go wrong! It took awhile to get over that reality!! But was encouraged by my family and friends to grow with the knowledge I have learned, thus I am still learning. This was one of the biggest milestones in my cheesemaking experiences!

5. Lenore: Please tell us how your family helps with your cheesemaking process.

Jemima: My family plays a large role in cheesemaking. Their support and advice is a stronghold! Since this is a family based establishment, everyone has their certain stations. We don’t process the milk ourselves here, so we buy from local dairies that are all Jersey Grass Fed herds. Dad would schedule the milk (week’s supply) and is constantly on call “Hey Dad” this, “Hey Dad” that! Mom does all the record keeping, paper work etc. The younger ones have their job of washing cans. And last but not least, “Joseph” my youngest brother who is under training, and is my assistant at this point, has taken great interest in the nature of cheesemaking.

6. Lenore: Where do you make the cheese?

Jemima: Currently we are making cheese in an inspected facility in a part of our basement. When we first got into cheesemaking we didn’t know what we would be getting into, so we wanted to start out very feasible. We are envisioning moving out into a separate facility in the future.

7. Lenore: How large are your batches?

Jemima: Our cheesemaking vat holds 200 gallons of milk, which was actually a bulk tank with a cooling unit converted to heat through the coils with hot water. Every batch is hand stirred using a large stainless steel rake/stirrer. The curds are hand cut with stainless steel wire cutters. We get anywhere from 180 to 220 pounds of cheese per batch, depending on the seasons.

8. Lenore: Please tell us how the grass fed cow’s milk changes with the seasons, and do you need to adjust your cheese recipe due to these changes?

Jemima: An amazing fact Eldore taught us on the nature of cow’s milk is that in the fall the cheese yield increases, which means there are more solids in the milk. The cows were created that way to prepare their calves for winter. And if there is an extra good yield, you can expect a hard winter. As far as changing the recipe, yes the culture amount does change with the seasons, to keep the acidification schedule constant during cheesemaking. But I try not to differ anything from what Eldore taught me, and any change if there is one, I try never to lose my focus! That is so important!

9. Lenore: Is there anything else you would like us to know about you, your family and cheesemaking?

Jemima: I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, the customer, for purchasing our cheese! We are looking forward to continue serving your needs. We hope our passion for making cheese can make your passion for enjoying good cheese a wonderful experience.
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Farmstead Fresh August 2013 Newsletter Q & A
September 4, 2013, 4:11 pm
Filed under: Organic cheese


Question: Can I freeze your cheese?
Answer: Yes, you can freeze our cheese. Just be careful to wrap well with freezer wrap to avoid freezer burn. Then when you are ready to use the cheese please thaw slowly in the refrigerator to avoid change in the texture. Our cheese lasts for months in its original wrap without freezing, it will age slightly (get a stronger flavor) when kept refrigerated for several months.

Question: Why are Organic methods more expensive than non-organic methods for milk production and cheese production?
Answer: Organic farms do not give their cows additional hormones (rBST) that non-organic farms use to increase milk production per cow. Therefore only the natural amount of milk comes from the cow as nature intended. So less milk per cow makes the milk more expensive and valuable. More expensive milk makes more expensive cheese. Also our cheese maker does not fortify the milk that other cheese makers may do to increase the pounds of cheese per 100 pounds of milk. For example the normal amount of cheese from 100 pounds of milk would be around 10 lbs. With fortification a cheese maker can get as much as 12 pounds of cheese from 100 pounds of milk which would decrease their cost per pound of cheese.

Question: Is our Raw Milk Grass Fed Cow cheese considered a health food?
Answer: Yes, it definitely is! Research at Utah State University has confirmed that cows grazing on pasture have up to 500% more Conjugated Linoleic Acid in milk fat which are very potent Cancer fighters. They also found additional calcium and protein as well as vitamins in grass fed milk!.
Next month I hope to have an interview with our cheese maker!

Lenore (Hanni) Spade
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Farmstead Fresh July 2013 Newsletter Q & A
September 4, 2013, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Organic cheese


Question: I received my order and the cheese is warm. Isn’t it spoiled?

Answer: Cheese does not spoil like milk spoils when warm for too long. As a matter of fact, part of our curing and aging process requires our cheese to be at room temperatures for up to three weeks, so another few days will not harm the cheese. Just refrigerate the cheese when you receive it so it can firm up a bit before you try to slice or cube it for serving. And just a tip: when you are ready to serve our cheese, allow it to warm up a bit for better flavor.

Question: Are the cows we get our milk from only grass-fed? If so, then what do the cows eat in the winter?
Answer: Yes, the Jersey Cows our cheese maker gets her milk from are grass-fed cows. In the winter they eat hay and silage (fermented grass collected during the Summer/Fall).

Question: Does the grass-fed cow milk come from Organic Farms?

Answer: One of the farms is certified Organic. The other farm uses Organic methods but is not certified.

Question: Why did we stop selling Goat Cheese?

Answer: After discovering that the goat farmer was not using Organic methods we made the decision to stop selling it once our inventory was sold out. We do not have an Organic goat farmer near us. Also goats do not thrive on grass alone; they need other feed to supplement the grass. Many goat farmers are using feed with GMO (genetically modified organisms) in it. They feel they cannot afford the more expensive Organic feed that is available.
More FAQ’s next month!

Lenore (Hanni) Spade
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