filly’s blog – eatstrong – gut-friendly cheese
My, the last couple of weeks have been busy (hence why I didn’t post last week – whoops!). My brain is exploding with anatomy and physiology – I’ve got ganglia and action potentials and homeostasis and platysma leaking out my earholes! Move Strong has also been keeping me busy, what with the exciting news of our new affiliation – CrossFit Devonport, as well as organising a really cool Throwdown, a funky photo-shoot and a competition that will hopefully motivate some strong movers in these dragging winter months. Mind you, how amazing is the day today? This sunshine warms my bones. This isn’t the chilly Tasmanian winter I remember as a child!
Oh, and another thing that’s been keeping me busy…This:
Come end of August, this will be our home. A quaint 1880s fisherman’s cottage bursting with character and style (the photo doesn’t do it justice!). I can’t wait to reside inside, beneath that Harry Potter roof and to play in that secret wild garden. I can’t wait to put my ears against its walls and hear the whisper of long ago stories. I wonder who built this house? Who has lived in it since? Has their been love? Heartache? I’d love to find some historical info about the house. The dates. The people. The dramas. The stories. Does anyone have any idea how I might go about researching this?
The cottage has a gorgeous kitchen and I am so excited to brew up some nourishing food inside it. Check it out:
How beautiful and inspiring is it! Did I mention I’m a little excited?
I’m drawn to the old world. Not only in architecture and furniture and clothes and such, but also in food. More and more our modern processed and packaged foods are making me uncomfortable. I went to Coles today, after the Farmer’s Market, and it just felt odd. So fake. So alien. The shiny wrappers of chocolate bars and chips. The bottled jars of bright coloured syrups and gels. The breads and rolls secretly harbouring poisons. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to our soon-to-be cottage. Perhaps I will be able to pretend inside those walls that I’m back in a time when things were real, things were natural, things were simple.
I’ve been making cheese for a year or so now. Raw cheese. Cheese like they would have made back in the old days. Like your great, great grandmother would’ve made. There’s something about making my own raw cheese that is empowering. I know exactly what went into it. I know exactly how it was made. And I know the healthful benefits of consuming this cheese. Here it is:
Ok, so here’s the thing…and it may turn you off from trying my cheese…but keep your mind open for just a few minutes please. I make my cheese by pouring raw milk into a container and leaving it out on the bench for three or four days to do its thing. Yep, I let the milk sour and curdle, until it separates into curds and whey. It may sound gross, but it’s how cheese was made back in the old days before there were big machines and fridges and all that fancy stuff. And it’s how many cultures around the world still make their cheese. Most of the cheese we eat today in the western world, cheese bought from the store that has undergone high pressures, is the weird stuff. The stuff that our great, great grandmothers would have been shocked by. Here’s a pic of the milk curdling away:
Not only is leaving milk out on the bench to make cheese traditional, but it also has excellent health benefits. Making cheese this way involves lacto-fermentation where lactic-acid-producing bacteria breaks down milk sugar (lactose) and milk protein (casein), both of which have been known to cause lactose intolerance and allergies. People who are sensitive to dairy have been known to be able to eat traditionally prepared cheese without any adverse reactions. Lacto-fermentation also increases the enzymes in milk, which helps the body absorb calcium and other minerals, as well as increasing certain vitamins such as vitamin B and C. The friendly bacteria produced during lacto-fermentation also kill off any nasty bacteria, which means the cheese can last for several weeks without going off. These friendly bacteria also help create a healthy gut, and guard against infectious illnesses and aid in digestion.
I always use raw milk when I make my cheese. You can’t use the pasteurised stuff as pasteurisation damages the milk’s fragile architecture; if it were left out on the bench it would just turn putrid. Raw milk is hard to get a hold of though, so you can use cultured dairy products such as yogurt, which restores the enzymes that have been damaged by pasteurisation. I also save the whey and use it to soak grains and to make sauerkraut.
So here’s what you do. Go on, I dare you to give it a crack!
Cream Cheese and Whey
*Recipe from Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions
Makes 5 cups whey and 2 cups cream cheese
2 litres raw milk, yogurt, piima milk or whole-milk buttermilk
- If you are using piima milk or whole-milk buttermilk, let stand at room temperature 1-2 days until the milk visibly separates into white curds and yellowish whey. If you are using yoghurt, no advance preparation is required. You may use homemade yoghurt or good quality commercial plain yoghurt. If you are using raw milk, place the milk in a clean glass container and allow it to stand at room temperature 1-4 days until it separates.
- Line a largestrainer set over a bowl with a clean cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel or cloth. Pour in the yogurt or separated milk, cover and let stand at room temperature for several hours (longer for yogurt). The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the strainer.
- Tie up the towel with the milk solids inside, being careful not to squeeze. Tie this little sack to a wooden spoon placed across the top of a container so that more whey can drip out. When the bag stops dripping, the cheese is ready.
- Store whey in a mason jar and cream cheese in a covered glass container. Refrigerated, the cream cheese keeps for about 1 month and the whey for up to 6 months.
To eat: I mostly use this cheese in savoury dishes as it has quite a strong sour (though not unpleasant) taste. I use it in salads or in frittatas, or as a sour cream substitute in Mexican meals such as chilli con carne (without the rice!). I have also made a raw cheesecake with it. I thought it was nice, though slightly sour. I liked it, but others (who are used to sugar-filled cheesecakes) thought it was strange. Oh well…I’ll happily eat my slightly sour, gut-friendly raw cheesecake in my olden day cottage 🙂
Has anyone tried making cream cheese the traditional way? What was your experience?
Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions