Monday, 12 November 2012

Cheese making at Martinmas

As part of my interest in all things home made I had another first this weekend, and made my own mozzarella cheese.  Cheesemaking is one of those things I had long assumed was beyond my talents as an enthusiastic amateur cook.  However soft cheese appears to be one of those things that is relatively simple to do and just takes practice and experience to turn an okay cheese into something rather lovely.  All I needed was unhomogenised full cream milk, rennet, lemon juice and salt.  I'm pretty sure that with practice my mozzarella will be a far better texture - it was an odd sensation kneeding cheese I must say, and I'm not sure I kneeded it enough.
Milk - the first stage is just heating to 32 degrees.

The curds are cut and the whey is released and drains away

Mozzarella cheese just going into the fridge
Having said that, I managed to make something that had the texture of mozzarella cheese, so I was rather chuffed.  I hope to work my way through my little cheese book and see how I get on.  If I manage anything special I will post on the blog.

Sunday was not only Remembrance Day, it was also St Martin's Day.  St Martin of Tours was a 4th century Bishop who was hugely venerated in medieval Europe.  His day was celebrated with the eating of goose and the slaughtering of the pigs.  It was seen as the last day of celebration before winter, the last chance to eat unsalted or preserved meat, and the penitential season of Advent.   An old English saying is "His Martinmas will come as it does to every hog," meaning "he will get his comeuppance" or "everyone must die".

We celebrated by cooking a large piece of pork - part of half a pig we bought down in Devon earlier in the year.  Then we went into the garden whilst we still had some daylight and began the winter tidy up.  In my head as we were cutting back and digging over, I couldn't help but think of those Medieval books of hours, showing the months and seasons.

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