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Showing posts from June, 2019

Prepper's Cheesemaking

If you've read the comments to my "Chèvre" and "Cardoon for Vegetable Rennet" blog posts, then you know we've been discussing alternatives to buying rennet and cheese cultures. The following is a relevant excerpt from chapter 7 of my Prepper's Livestock Handbook. Chapter 7 contains off-grid ways to process, make, preserve, and store eggs, milk, butter, cheese, and meat. Cheese is the traditional way to preserve milk, so here are a number of alternative ideas for making and storing cheese.

Cheese
Sustainable cultures. These can be substituted for commercial thermophilic and mesophilic starters. Commonly used are kefir, yogurt, whey, cultured buttermilk, and soured raw milk. In general, use 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup per gallon of milk. If your cheese is too bland for your taste, increase the amount of culture in your next batch. If your cheese tastes too sour, decrease it.

Natural rennets. Animal rennets are made from the stomach of a calf or kid, where enzymes curdl…

June Garden Blooms

Do you remember my showing you what I thought was a volunteer cucumber in one of my rice patches?


Well, it's bloomed and turns out it's not a cucumber!


Looks like a cushaw squash. I assumed cucumber because that's where I had them planted last year. The cushaw seed would have come from the compost pile. I should have known from the leaves!


Also blooming:







What's blooming in your garden?

June Garden Blooms© June 2019 by Leighat http://www.5acresandadream.com

Cardoon for Vegetable Rennet

In the comments of my last post (Chèvre) there was some discussion about vegetable rennet, so I wanted to show you my cardoon. Two years ago I planted some, because I was told they can be used to make a vegetable rennet for making cheese. They are perennials so last year they just grew and established themselves. This year they bloomed.


To make rennet the purple stamens are collected and dried.



As I've been collecting and drying the stamens, I've been doing some research. Apparently, cardoon rennet is used to make specific cheeses. The ones in Portugal are called cardo cheeses: Azeitão, Nisa, and Serra da Estrela to name some of the popular ones. But I've been having trouble finding actual recipes for them. I've found a couple of videos, but they are more tourist demonstrations rather than how-to classes.

For using cardoon rennet, I'm finding varying instructions. One source says to use about 5 tablespoons of dried, powered cardoon stamens to make the tea for a gallon…

Cheesemaking: Chèvre

While I was working on another blog post, I wanted to link back to my recipe for chèvre. It was then that I realized I had never posted one! I was sure I had written it and finally found it in my drafts folder, where it's been sitting for almost a year. So at long last, here it is.


Chèvre is a soft, supposedly easy-to-make goat cheese that is often recommended for beginners. Yet I hadn't tried to make it until last year. Why? Well, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because most recipes for it call for chèvre starter culture, whereas I lean toward sustainable cheese making, i.e. without purchased starters.

The other problem is that it requires such a teensy amount of rennet. The starter culture already contains the rennet, but without that it's another challenge. It only takes a few drops of liquid rennet, but because I now use powdered rennet (why here), the measurement is a little trickier. A regular dose of powdered rennet is only 1/32 teaspoon per gallon of milk, so a sma…

Upland Rice Growing Update

I gave you a little peek at my rice in my last post (Living in the Shadow of the Rain), but so many folks expressed an interest in this project that I thought I'd give you an update in pictures.


This is upland rice, which doesn't require paddies to grow. You can read more about it in my "Grain Growing: Upland Rice" post.



The plant in the middle of the bed is a volunteer cucumber.


I left it because I rarely have the heart to pull volunteers. They always seem to be the hardiest of what grows in my garden.

I've been diligent to water and weed both beds. Of the two, the Cho Seun seems to be doing better.


It is a taller growing variety, but it's greener and leafier than the Loto, which seems to be struggling more. That may be due to variety preferences, or because the soil in the Loto bed isn't as good. I'm not really sure.

I planted white Dutch clover as a ground cover in both beds, but it's been sporadic in growing. Still, it will add some nitrogen to the …

Living in the Shadow of the Rain

Summer in my part of the country usually includes at least one long, hot dry spell. Our recent one started mid-May, with no rain and highs in the 90s F (lower 30s C) for three weeks. None of my summer crops are mature enough yet to have good, deep root systems, so if it hadn't been for our rainwater tanks I would have lost much of my garden. I used 1650 gallons keeping things alive before it finally rained again last weekend. We were blessed with about five inches, which was enough to refill our 1500 rain tank.


That dry spell was so early this summer that I can't help but wonder if we won't get another one this year. Climate change aside, part of the problem is that we live in the rain shadow of the Appalachian Mountains. Most of our summer weather systems come up off the Gulf of Mexico and travel in a northeasterly direction. Depending how far west they originate, they travel up the west side of the mountain range. As the moisture laden air rises to pass over the mountains…

Checked Off the To-Do List: New Clothesline

One of the things on our summer to-do list is "new clothesline." I've had the old one since 2009.


After ten years of use it certainly looks like it's seen better days.



I never actually intended to have the umbrella clothesline for so long. In fact, seven years ago I bought a new pulley style line from Lehman's.


Originally, I wanted to run it from the back porch to the barn. I loved the idea of simply stepping out the back door to hang laundry. But because we were planning to build a new barn the new clothesline got set on hold. With the new barn now built and the old clothesline ready to topple, it was time to finally put up the new line.

But where? The problem with running it from the back porch to the barn was that it would partially obstruct the driveway. The line is 75-feet in length, so we would need a good clear stretch for it. We finally decided to hang it behind the carport.


From the pecan tree on the right to the utility pole near the corner of the barn (next…

Stewardship, Sustainability, and Woodchips

One of our homestead goals is stewardship. I know that word is tossed about in various ways, so to clarify, when I speak of stewardship this is what I mean.

"Stewardship evokes a sense of responsibility ... It implies the supervision or management of something entrusted to one's care. It implies not only responsibility but also accountability. We believe that one day, we will be accountable for how we lived our lives and for what we did with the things in our possession."
5 Acres & A Dream The Book, Chapter 2 "Defining Our Goals,"
pages 23 to 24
One of the things we feel responsible for is the renewable resources on our property; in this case trees. I recently blogged about how we manage our trees ("Spring Chores: Trees"). In that post I mentioned that twigs and small branches from downed trees are chipped. Thanks to having our own source of chips, we've been able to address several problems we've had with a "work smarter not harder&quo…