Traditional Clabber Cheese

This crumbly soft fresh cheese is similar texture to a cottage cheese but higher in fat. It can be pressed in a mould to create a firmer round cheese which can be sliced or which can apparently be aged as white rind cheese like a camembert, but I have not tried this yet.

Ingredients

1 litre Fresh Raw milk (I have used four litres of raw milk in the photos)

1 teaspoon sea salt (or other good salt free from additives such as iodine and anticaking agents)

Method

Put raw milk into a glass jar or non-reactive bowl/pot (or food safe bucket if making a large batch)

Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place to sour and thicken. It should take one to two days depending on temperature, check it every 12 hours or so. Fresh milk may take longer but is better to use as older milk can taste bitter due to the psychotropic bacteria’s which thrive in the cold of the fridge.  Once the milk has become a thick mass (Clabber) and started to separate it is ready to hang.

Line a colander with a cheesecloth and place it in a large bowl. Pour the clabber into the cheesecloth and gather the cloth up around the clabber. Tie off the top and hang from a hook or a wooden spoon over a large pot. Use a fine woven cloth but if you find the clabber is too runny to hang it needs longer to ferment before hanging. The clabber needs to drain its whey for about 24 hours.

Hang the clabber for 24 hours

After 24 hours place the cheesecloth in a bowl, open the cloth and mix the salt into the cheese. The added salt will help to remove any leftover whey.

After 24 hours there is still a bit of moisture in the cheese, the salt will add flavour to the cheese but also draw out more whey.

Hang again for another 4 hours or place in a mould and put a weight on top (glass jar of water etc) to press out any extra whey.

After the second hanging or pressing the cheese is now ready to eat.

The cheese is now ready to eat and will be fine in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Seasonings can be added with the salt, fresh or dried herbs like chives or spices like paprika can give you very different tasty cheeses, perhaps even dried fruit and nuts…

The Fresh cheese turned onto a plate, this cheese is lovely spread on sandwiches, crackers or crumbled over salads.

Mild American Cheddar or Ozarks cheese.

While exploring the topic of clabber cheeses I came across an American school publication from the 1970’s called Bittersweet. In its (now online) pages was this recipe. It was, it turns out, pretty much exactly what I was looking for. A hard cheese which kind of resembled shop bought block cheese that I can grate, and our daughter will actually eat it. While it is rather rich for a straight eating cheese it is good for adding to meals as a grated cheese or on anything that requires cooked cheese like pizza, cheese on toast etc. Probably also good for a cheese sauce but I haven’t tried that one yet. The reason I like it is its easy to make and even if it doesn’t work out properly can still be used as above. But also, because it doesn’t need to be aged before using and when you have limited fridge space or even no refrigeration this is the cheese to make. For me simplifying the cheese making process to only use common ingredients or simply raw milk makes sense if we are trying to be self-sufficient. All the ingredients for this cheese can come from your raw milk, apart from a little baking soda and salt which you should have in the pantry anyway.

The original article from Bittersweet – Old Time Cheese Making

Ingredients

1 1/2 gallons Fresh raw milk (approximately 6 litres)

4 Tbsps. butter (60 g)

¾ tsp baking soda

2/3 cup very thick sour cream (skimmed from milk)

1 ¼ tsp salt

Method

Set the milk in a warm place and skim off the cream when it has risen.

Leave the milk and cream in a warm place in separate containers to sour.

Taste the cream and when it is sour save 2/3 cup for use in the cheese. The rest can be used as sour cream.

Let the milk sit until it clabbers (sets) this can take 2 to 3 days. When the curd is thick and soured it is ready to cook.

(I leave the cream on the milk and scrape off once set, put the cream in the fridge and leave the milk for another day)

Clabbered milk, you can see the firm set as the food grade bucket is tipped.

Heat the clabber until the pot is hot to the touch, stirring frequently to separate the whey from the curd. This simmering will take about ½ an hour. When the curd is rubbery it is time to drain off the whey.

Curds separating while warming

Line a colander with a cheese cloth and pour in the curds. Allow the whey to drain out and let the curds cool a bit before squeezing out as much whey as possible, the curd should be quite dry.

Place the curds in a bowl and mix in the butter and baking soda. Press down and let it set for at least 2.5 hours or overnight.

Mixed with the baking soda and butter and pressed into the bowl

Mix in the remaining ingredients and cook the mixture in a double boiler (or in a metal or pyrex bowl over a pot of water) stirring occasionally cook until the curds are melted.

When melted and smooth pour the cheese into a well buttered mold (like a loaf pan) and let cool. Once cool it is ready to eat, this cheese will keep well in the fridge but to cure it longer it can be covered with wax.

Cheese pressed into the buttered mold
The finished cheese.

Storing Fresh eggs in Lime Water

As the days start to grow longer, the chooks egg production also starts to pick up. Soon we have more eggs each day than we can eat. Lime water is a traditional and affordable way to store your surplus eggs for when the chooks go off the lay again. All you need is Hydrated Lime, water, a food grade container (preferably with a lid) and of course lots of eggs.

Hydrated Lime (calcium hydroxide) is also know as Pickling Lime or Slacked Lime, it is a natural product and available in large bags from farm supply stores.

Water should be room temp and (if from a town supply) filtered.

A food grade container can be anything which has a large enough opening to gently lower the eggs into, from large jars to a large bucket with a lid. While the jars look good on the shelf, we find a 10 to 15 litre food grade bucket is more practical and convenient.

Eggs need to be clean and unwashed so they still have the protective coating (bloom) on the shell, for this reason bought egg are not suitable. Also make sure there are no cracks in the shells and that the chooks have adequate calcium in their diet for good strong shells.

Fresh eggs ready for collecting

Method

The ratio of lime to water is about 30g to 1 litre (1oz to 1 quart) we just use a 1/3 cup of lime per litre of water, which is a slightly higher ratio but easy to measure out.

Measure the water into the container and stir in correct amount of lime. If you roughly half full the container you can top up with more lime and water mix if needed. The lime will settle, this is fine, but if topping up make sure the lime is well mixed in the new water before adding.

Mixing the lime into the water.

Gently lower the eggs into the water and position across the base of the container. If you can, try to place the eggs pointy side down as this means the air pocket inside the egg has less contact with the egg white. Some people claim this produces a better stored egg but others feel it is not necessary so don’t fuss too much.

Fresh eggs can be added as you get them, just make sure the eggs remain covered with the lime water. Once the container is full it can be stored in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. Just be aware to keep it away from extremes in temperature, like high heat or freezing.

Adding the eggs to the bucket. the lime is already settling in the water.

Generally most people will just need to store the eggs to cover the cooler months while their chooks are off the lay, but eggs can last 2 years or more if stored correctly.

To use the eggs remove the amount you need and wash the lime water off the shells. You can use the float test for freshness while washing the eggs (if it sinks its good, if it floats discard). We break each egg into a bowl first and check before using, but have not had a bad egg yet.

Eggs stored in jars looks neat in the pantry, but we find buckets are more practical for storing large amounts of eggs.

We find the eggs are just as good as fresh for most purposes. But as the time of storage extends some people prefer to just use the eggs in baking etc as they say they taste a little different. This would be something you would need to trial yourself and see if you can taste a difference.

NOTE. I saw this advice which I haven’t tried yet. “If you are going to hard boil the water glassed eggs, first do a pin prick through the shell. After sitting in the lime water solution, the egg shells are no longer porous, and will quickly pop when you start to boil or steam the eggs.”

14 Egg Frittata

This recipe is a great way to use up a surplus of eggs and it can be kept in the fridge for a few days for quick healthy lunches or snacks. The measurements are rough as we generally just throw it together with whatever veges we have in the garden. You can add more or less veges depending on your tastes. 

14 eggs 

1 cup of cream or milk (we like cream) 

1 tsp salt 

Pepper 

1 cup grated cheese 

Handful of chopped chives or parsley  

1 onion diced 

Garlic to taste  

1 cup approx Bacon or ham 

25g of butter or more if needed 

About 4 cups of assorted veges (see below) 

Beat eggs, cream/milk, salt and pepper together in a large bowl.  

Eggs in a large bowl

Stir in cheese and herbs then set aside. 

Cook the bacon till browned in a large frying pan with a bit of the butter, remove and cool a bit before slicing into small pieces. 

Veges cut up and ready to sauté

Add onions to the bacon fat and cook until softened, add more butter if needed and the garlic when onion is nearly done. Any veges which need sauteing can be added to the pan with extra butter if needed. 

Ready to go in the oven

Mix bacon, onions and veges into the egg mixture and pour into a buttered dish. We use a deep sided one about 30cm x 20cm. 

Cook at 180°C for about ½ hour or until risen, browned and set in the middle. 

Can be served hot, cold or even sliced and refried. 

Out of the woodstove, nice and golden.

Vegetable ideas 

Leeks fried in bacon fat and butter are great in this dish 

Cooked potato, kumara, pumpkin etc 

Finely sliced greens – silverbeet, spinach, kale, etc can be sautéed first or added fresh. 

Broccoli and cauliflower chopped small and can be sautéed first or added fresh. 

Root veges (especially carrot) finely chopped or grated are best sautéed first 

Sliced tomatoes make a nice addition laid on top of the frittata before cooking. 

Winter vegetables from the garden

Other variations 

The egg mixture can be a base for any combinations you like.

Sliced olives, diced tomato, spinach and feta. 

Broccoli, cauliflower and extra cheese. 

Sliced sausage or dry fried seasoned mince for a meatlovers. 

Lunch!

Spiced Junket

This traditional dessert is not heard of much these days, but it is a great simple use of surplus milk.

1 litre milk (preferably raw) 

1 tsp Rennet (5ml) 

1 tbsp Honey (more can be used if you like it sweeter or none for unsweetened) 

1 tsp ground Cinnamon 

½ tsp ground Cardamon 

½ tsp ground Nutmeg 

¼ tsp Salt 

Warm the milk to about 32°C. (baby bottle warm) 

Stir in Honey until dissolved, add spices and salt, stir again. 

Add rennet and stir gently. 

Pour immediately into individual cups or a larger serving dish. 

Leave at room temperature to set for 1 to 2 hours. Eat once set or it can be refrigerated for several days. 

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