Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children
As l have told you before, l often go to see Farmer Jenkins to buy fresh eggs or milk.
Sometimes, Emily, Bill, Bob and Henry come with me.
The last time l went to the farm, as we came to the top of the lane into the farmyard, we were met by Mrs. Jenkins.
She told us about her new cottage industry. She had decided to start making cheese.
She asked the children if they would like to see how she was going to make her cheese and of course they said yes.
Thousands of different cheeses are made around the world. There are over 700 made in the UK alone. They can be made from the milk from cows and goats and also sheep, water buffalo, yaks, camels, reindeer and horses.
Mrs Jenkins wants to make cheese from the milk from the cows and goats they have on the farm.
She explained her cheese-making process to the children.
The first thing she does is warm the milk and add a starter culture. The starter culture ferments the natural sugars in the milk and the milk starts to thicken.
She then adds a coagulant called rennet to ensure that the cheese will eventually become hard. ln vegetarian cheeses, this rennet does not come from animal sources. lt might come from artichokes, melons or fig leaves rather than the lining of a calf’s stomach. Some soft, fresh cheeses do not need rennet added to them at all.
The milk then sets. The special word for this is to curdle.
The cheese is in two parts: curds at the top and whey underneath. You will know these words from the story about Little Miss Muffet who sat on a tuffet.
lf you have ever eaten cottage cheese, you will have an idea of how the curds look as they separate from the whey.
The curd is cut and stirred and maybe heated and then it is scooped up into large moulds that have drainage holes in them so that the whey, which is a watery substance, can drain away. This process has to be done very carefully.
The curd must be handled with great care. The more the whey is expelled from the curd, the harder the cheese will be. The more the curd is cut into smaller pieces, the more moisture can drain away to make the cheese drier – and in time, harder.
Cheddar cheese has a moisture content of 37% but Brie has more whey in it so it is softer and gooier.
Salt is added at this stage, and other ingredients can be added like herbs or fruit or even dye to change the cheese’s colour. Orange-coloured cheeses like Red Leicester or Cheshire are coloured with a flavourless dye called annatto which is made from the pulp of a tropical, South American tree.
The cheese can be smoked or injected with bacterial moulds so that it will grow bluey-green veins. Don’t worry, this is not harmful – it just gives the cheese a strong taste. An example of a cheese like this would be Stilton.
The curd will become cheese and the cheese will set in the shape of the mould.
Some cheeses like ricotta are traditionally made from whey. lt is a very soft cheese.
So after the cheese has been curdled, drained and pressed into moulds; ripening or maturation can begin.
lt takes about 10 litres of milk to make 1 kilogramme of Cheddar. The moulds that the cheese is put into are probably a very different shape from the blocks of cheese that you buy in a super market. This is because the pieces that you see are only one portion of a cheese that was formed in a large mould.
The type of milk used to make the cheese, the amount of moisture, acid and salt in the cheese all go together to affect the ripening process and then make up the unique taste and texture of each cheese. And cheeses from around the world have their own characteristics because of the way they are made and the different milks they are made from.
The food the animals eat can also have an influence on the taste of the cheese and so can the season of the year in which it is made.
Storing the cheese is a very important process. Cottage cheese does not have a very strong taste because it is not very old.
Cheese changes its taste as it ages. lt must be kept in an environment where the temperature and the humidity (amount of moisture in the air) are right for the style of cheese being produced.
Part of the skill of a good cheese-maker is to constantly check these conditions and the progress of the cheeses in their store.
Soft, fresh cheeses can ripen in hours or a few days, but hard cheeses are stored for many months before they are ready to eat.
Mrs Jenkins said that because she was going to make her cheese in an old-fashioned, traditional way, it was going to taste wonderful.
And the process of making cheese is indeed very old – thousands of years old in fact; although this ancient art was not found in every part of the world.
Milk extracts were identified by archaeologists on pottery cheese-strainers from Neolithic times (7,500 years ago) found in Poland, but it is thought that cheese-making was an ancient art in Arab countries too.
There is a legend that says cheese was invented by an Arab trader who put some milk in a sheep’s stomach saddlebag as refreshment for his journey across the desert. After hours of being shaken in the hot sun inside the rennet-lined pouch, the milk had turned into curds and whey, which probably tasted pretty good to him at the end of a tiring day.
Maybe cheese was invented when someone added some fruit juice to some milk and the acid in the juice started a curdling process. Can we really be sure?
lt is a fact that cheese was the only way you could store milk in hot countries before refrigerators were invented.
The Old Testament refers to cheese-making, the Ancient Egyptians depicted cheese-making on tomb walls that date back to before 2000 BC and we know that Ancient Greeks talked about cheese in their literature. Wealthy Romans had separate kitchens dedicated to cheese-making and many different types of cheeses were sold in Roman markets.
Cheese recipes were originally used to preserve the nutritional value of milk for long periods of time. The Romans took the skills of cheese-making all over Europe as their empire spread, but most of the types of cheeses we eat today are less than 500 years old.
Roquefort cheese has been made by French monks since as far back as 1070, Cheshire dates back to the 12th century and Cheddar dates back to about 1500. Gouda has been produced by the Dutch since 1697.
Cheese-making started in different regions of the world whenever animals started to be domesticated there.
Historically, cheese was made in the home but also by monasteries too. Monks are credited for the improvement of cheese-making techniques throughout the Middle Ages. Cheese made in the cooler climate of Europe needed less salt in their production which meant cheese-makers could use moulds and microbes (which were a useful kind or bacteria) to create different flavours.
Cheese was taken across to America in the Mayflower and is produced in New England and other eastern states to this day. Cheddar cheese originates from Cheddar which is a village in Somerset in southwest England.
ln the 19th century, cheese started to be made in factories.
Parts of East Asia, China and Africa never really acquired the taste for cheese although there is cheese-making in Mongolia and Tibet and a cheese called rushan has been produced in China since the Ming Dynasty.
During World War ll a standard cheese was produced for people to eat in Britain. lt was rationed, as were a lot of everyday foods. Over the years following the War, cheese-makers had to rediscover the art of making cheeses using the traditional recipes and build up the cheese-making industry once more.
Some people say you have vivid dreams if you eat cheese just before you go to bed, some say you have nightmares and some say that you have different kinds of dreams according to which kind of cheese you eat at supper time. Some people say the chemicals in cheese should actually aid restful sleep.
You could be your own cheesy-dream detective and see what you think.
Mrs Jenkins has given the children some samples of her new cheeses and they are going to test them out at home to see what they think of them and report back their findings to her. They are going to help with her market research. They are going to be what is called a focus group.
They are very excited about being given such an important job to do.
Cheese is very popular in Britain and is bought by 98% of households. Cheddar is the most popular cheese – maybe because not only is it tasty, it is so easy to cook with.
People in Germany, France, Greece and ltaly eat even more than we do. They often eat cheese at breakfast time.
And why not – because after all cheese is very nutritious. lt has calcium and Vitamins A, D and B12. lt is good for your teeth and bones.
The children are making careful notes about their cheese and then they will be holding a focus group meeting in Bill and Bob’s bedroom. They will be reporting back to Mrs Jenkins soon.
Bye bye everyone – don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!
Love and kisses
Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Week
Bob: Why is milk the fastest thing in the world?
Bill: l don’t know. Why is milk the fastest thing in the world?
Bob: Because it is pasteurised before you know it!
Salty Sam © Christina Sinclair 2015
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.
Links may be used to www.christina-sinclair.com
THE SALTY SAM NEWS DESK
In the school holidays, the children spend a lot of time at Auntie Alice’s cottage.
She looks after them while their parents are busy working and they return the favour by helping her. They help pick fruit and vegetables in the garden and help to groom her dog and her cats. Sometimes they give her dog a bath but Auntie Alice is convinced that they get wetter that the dog does!
Every morning, Bill and Bob leave their house by the back gate just before their parents leave by the front door. They pack some toys in their back packs if they especially want to play with them during the day – but actually there is always something to do in Auntie Alice’s house as she has cupboards full of toys and interesting things to do anyway.
Bill and Bob walk down the back lane to Emily’s house and collect her at her back gate. Then they all walk to Henry’s house where he is waiting at his back gate.
In the meantime, Auntie Alice sets off from her cottage to take her dog out for its morning walk.
She walks towards Henry’s house and they all meet up somewhere along the route.
The children like to take it in turns to hold the dog’s lead as they walk to Auntie Alice’s cottage where they spend their days – and of course if the weather is fine they will spend most of their time in the garden.
Sometimes Captain Jack comes over to visit and tells them tall tales from his days at sea and sometimes I come to take the children on a trip to my lighthouse.
After I took them to see Mrs Jenkins new cheese making business, they asked Auntie Alice if she ever made cheese herself. She was always doing interesting things in her kitchen after all.
They said that they wanted to have a go at making cheese.
She said that making soft cheese wasn’t too difficult but they might prefer to have a go at making yoghurt which would be much easier for them.
She happened to have a yoghurt making machine and they could add fruit from the garden to make different flavours.
They thought that sounded like a great idea.
She said that they could start by making plain yoghurt – but they would have to be patient because it couldn’t be done very quickly. She would show them how to make yoghurt without a special machine so that they could make some at home later if they wanted to.
In order to make yoghurt, you need a saucepan to heat milk in, a cooking thermometer, something to keep it warm like a vacuum flask or two and some pots or jars to store it in the fridge.
They all went down to the Rocky Bay supermarket to buy a small pot of live, plain organic yoghurt that had been made with live cultures (live bacteria). Auntie Alice checked the label to make sure it had everything they needed.
They also bought a litre container of pasteurised, full fat cows’ milk and some powdered milk to make their yoghurt extra creamy.
They bought some other shopping as well of course.
When they got back home the children were keen to get started and this is what they did…
Auntie Alice said that she would be head chef and because everything they were going to do would need to be done very precisely, and also everyone had to be careful in the kitchen when handling hot things, all the children would have to follow her instructions carefully.
They let the yoghurt get to room temperature – that didn’t take long because it had warmed up on the way home.
Bill poured the milk into a big saucepan and Emily whisked in 50g of powdered milk.
They heated the milk to 85°C stirring it occasionally. All the children took turns.
Then Auntie Alice took it off the heat and let it cool to 46°C. The children all watched the thermometer carefully.
Then Henry stirred in the live yoghurt from the shop – they needed about 6 tablespoons and Bob measured the yogurt out as he put it into the pan.
Everyone counted as he did so.
Before the milk could cool any more, Auntie Alice put their mixture into two enormous vacuum flasks.
She had pre-warmed these by putting some hot water in them for a few minutes and then she emptied the water out.
Bill and Bob screwed the lids on immediately.
They then left the flasks on top of a kitchen cupboard overnight. Auntie Alice said it would need to be left for at least eight hours.
The next morning the children were eager to see what had happened to their yoghurt.
Auntie Alice said that they would need to check that everything was alright – if the yoghurt smelled awful it would mean that their experiment had not worked and they would have to throw everything away and start again.
Luckily, all seemed to be well.
Auntie Alice said they could use some of it as a starter for another batch.
If they weren’t going to use the yoghurt within the next few days, they could freeze some of it but otherwise they could put it into clean jars and store it in the fridge.
The children cut some strawberries up and put them into their yoghurt for a mid-morning snack.
It was soon clear that the yoghurt didn’t need to be stored because it was all eaten straight away!
TO ADVERTISE ON THIS BLOG
This is a good recipe to use up left-over cheese.
You don’t have to be precise about the measurements of the ingredients.
lt is called Welsh Rarebit but was probably originally called Welsh Rabbit because if a hunter went out to shoot a rabbit to eat for supper and was unsuccessful, he would have to have bread and cheese for supper instead.
You will need about 50g of cheese to cover two slices of toast.
Cut your cheese into chunks and put into a saucepan over a low heat.
Put your two slices of bread into a toaster to brown slightly.
When your cheese starts to melt, start to stir it gently.
You must not over-cook the cheese because it will go hard.
You can butter your toast and pour the melted cheese onto your toast – or some people prefer to brown the cheese on toast under a grill (so this is why it is important not to make your toast dark brown otherwise it will burn under the grill).
lf you want to pep your melted cheese up, then add a tiny blob of mustard or a pinch of Cayenne pepper.
A really nice topping for this dish is slices of fresh tomato put on top of the hot cheese once it has been poured onto the toast.
lt’s the Weekend!
HOW TO MAKE A YELLOW HAT
This is a jaunty knitted hat.
If you don’t want to make it in moss stitch, you could make it in garter stitch. If you make it in stocking stitch it will be floppier.
If you knit the hat without the band, it will look like a pirate cap.
Put the band around your head and tilt the top of the hat to the side of your head.
YELLOW HAT BAND (KNIT TWO)
Using 4mm knitting needles and yellow dk yarn cast on 40 stitches
Knit 10 rows of garter stitch
YELLOW HAT TOP (KNIT ONE)
Using 4mm knitting needles and yellow dk yarn cast on 39 stitches
Slip 1 stitch (knit 1, purl 1) repeat the last 2 stitches to the end of the row
Continue knitting this row until the work measures 60cm
YELLOW HAT BAND (KNIT TWO)
Using 4mm knitting needles and yellow dk yarn cast on 50 stitches
Knit 12 rows of garter stitch
YELLOW HAT TOP (KNIT ONE)
Using 4mm knitting needles and yellow dk yarn cast on 49 stitches
Slip 1 stitch (knit 1, purl 1) repeat the last 2 stitches to the end of the row
Continue knitting this row until the work measures 70cm
TO MAKE UP
- Sew the side seam of the rectangle of knitting
- Thread yarn along one side and pull tight to make the top of the hat – secure yarn
- Sew the two bands together (right sides together)
- Thread a length of yarn into the other side of the rectangle of knitting so that you can pull it in and ease it onto the headband – pin, tack and sew into place (right sides together)
Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use and for use in classrooms only.
It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.
Use of the toys and projects is at your own risk.
©Christina Sinclair Designs 2015