Monday, August 30, 2010

New piglets

We have some new piglets. They are from the same farm we have always gotten them from, but they are certainly different this time. They are lean and have funny long noses, more like wild pigs. They were extremely difficult to photograph because they kept fidgeting and changing places.

At the moment they are in a permanent, smaller hog pen while they get used to the electric fencing, but in a week or so we hope to have them out in movable pastures. We certainly learned our lesson last year when we put the pigs directly into electric fencing and we ended up having a piglet escape and never come back.

More mushrooms...

We found even more delicious mushrooms yesterday. These were just around three or four oak trees. There were lots more, but we didn't want to be greedy. We found some boletes, lots of lactarius and more russelas.

We had the other mushrooms for dinner the other night. They were wonderful. The boletus we had found had a very strong but pleasant mushroomy flavor that would be delicious in a gravy or a mushroom soup. We are so lucky to have all these wonderful fruits of the forest.
I wonder what sorts of minerals you get from eating wild mushrooms.

Here is Mirin, very proud of his harvest (he did most of the collecting, actually. He is quite a mushroom enthusiast.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wild mushrooms

The rain has had all the mushrooms peeking out. Around our oak trees we've found many good edible mushrooms. This is only one of many harvests. Here are some Lactarius, various russela mushrooms and a bolete. We weren't sure about the russelas and the bolete, although it did not have orange pores and it didn't stain blue, so we took them to James Kimborough, a renoun mushroom expert who also happens to live just a couple streets away. They are indeed edible. The Lactarius are particularly good, I think. Almost addictive, really. Store-bought mushrooms (even the fancy ones) can't compare in my opinion. nice it is to live in a place where people are generally frightened of mushrooms. The human competition is virtually non-existent.
We will be gently cooking these in butter for dinner.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Making Butter

I am certainly quite a beginner at making butter. The more I read about it the more little things I find that make a big difference. But I thought I would share what we have been up to these past months at least. Since Isla was weaned the milk has been amazingly creamy and wonderful, and we've been getting about 2 gallons a day. Dr. Weston Price found that the butter made in June had the most fat soluble activators, so this is likely the best time of year for butter-making. When the fridge starts to get full of milk I skim the cream from several gallons (2 gallons gives 1 quart of cream usually). Then we let the extra milk clabber and we mix it in with the oats for the chickens. It takes overnight for the cream to settle at the top of the jar.

After skimming I add a culture.

I had been using the clabber culture I had, but found it gave a very cheesy flavor, so the last batch of butter I just let ripen for several hours on the counter and I found the taste much better. I have been wondering if the flora danica culture would be nice for cultured butter as it is supposed to impart a buttery flavor to things.

When the cream has ripened, it is time for churning. I had been churning it in the food processor as the recipe in Nourishing Traditions calls for, but I think it is too fast as the butter would get a very hard, greasy texture. The last batch I made with egg beaters and the texture was much better. Surprisingly, cultured cream churns much faster at room temperature than cold, uncultured cream. The first batch I’d made I had chilled the cultured cream thinking it wouldn’t churn if it was warm and it took forever. The next batch took me by surprise by churning in under a minute. When I looked it up in my book Cheese and Cheese-making, Butter and Milk by James Long and John Benson (it was originally published in 1896!) it says, “If cream is churned while it is still sweet it is frequently longer before it is converted into butter, it produces less butter, and the flavor is less full and nutty.

When the cream separates I strained the butter through a sieve, saving the buttermilk. I’ve found this buttermilk makes the best soaked oat porridge. In the cheese and butter book they say to add cold water before straining to help wash out the buttermilk. I'll have to try that.

When the cream separates I strained the butter through a sieve, saving the buttermilk. I’ve found this buttermilk makes the best soaked oat porridge..

And now the butter must be washed. The more buttermilk that stays behind in the butter the less the keeping qualities for the butter. This is when it would be salted, too, but have been making unsalted butter so far.

After the butter is made into a nice ball and as much of the water pressed out as possible, I either mould it in a cheese mould or roll it into balls, which I wrap in parchment paper and store in the freezer.