Cheese Lovers Newsletter (9.21.2020): Building Updates
Happy Monday Morning!
First, a hearty thank you to those who gave to Ps and Qs Etiquette separately or through us as we raise money for the organization through our Black Lives Matter Brie. As you can imagine, we received overwhelmingly positive comments, along with a few that wanted to start a conversation with us. We still have a few available but will definitely run out this this week.
Projects: Our new retaining wall
To make room for our storage shed and cooler, and improve our van parking so we don't get stuck in the mud, we needed to manipulate our rock retaining wall. As we did that, some of the rocks fell and rebuilding just part of it became very difficult. Since we already had the concrete crew here for our manure storage project at the farm, we asked them what a retaining wall would cost and decided that was our best path forward. It will offer us the most space down below, re-route the rain water better to the pond and do a good job retaining all the dirt (even better than the rocks). We've got footings for the wall poured as of Friday, and we expect the wall to be up this week. For now, we've got some piles of dirt.
New footings poured for retaining wall.
Henry loves the piles of dirt for his Monster Trucks.
Our nutrient stacking slab (in back, by our manure lagoon) is waiting for a roof and then will be operational. For now, it is a great biking area :)
In partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, we're also excited to be taking down decaying trees from our north and west windbreak, and next spring planting over 1,000 new trees.
Question of the Week: What happens to the extra alcohol for your washed cheeses? Do you have a very happy dog that laps it up?
Our whiskey smear-ripened St. Anthony and North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster both use Panther Distillery's Minnesota 14 Whiskey. Thanks to alcohol laws in Minnesota, we buy their corn-based whiskey from a distributor in the Twin Cities (despite the 20 mile distance from our shop to theirs).
It takes an entire bottle - 750 mL - per batch to wash or smear our cheeses.
For the Munster, we do two days of whiskey (with a spray bottle) straight-up on days three and four after the cheese is made - so half the bottle each day. After the Munster is fully off the wagon, on days five and six we sober it up with a mixture of bacteria and yeast to create the coloring and enhance flavor development further. We continue to flip the Munster daily to keep even air movement and prevent mold (as much as possible). On day 14, we wrap.
So what do we do with the bottle of whiskey? It's gone. The cheese "eats" it and you become the victor.
For the St. Anthony, we hand salt on the day after cheesemaking, and then smear the alcohol on days two and three. For the next 14 days we spot wash with a salt brine to prevent mold, and flip nearly every day. Again, whiskey is completely gone and to the victor (you!) goes the spoils. Our Tipsy Tilsitter goes through an identical process to St. Anthony but with Milk & Honey Ciders' Flora cider.
Finally, the only time we do have leftover alcohol is the with our beer-soaked Rav'n Mad Cheddar. We first make Cheddar, which is the process of making cheese curds and then pressing it underneath the weight of itself. "Cheddaring" is actually a verb describing this process.
We then take those curds and soak them in Enki Brewing Company's Rav'n Mad Russian Imperial Stout. This collaboration came about when Enki brewers came to visit and a partnership was born. A few times a year we grab about a dozen growlers of the good stuff, which creates about 60 wheels of our Redhead Rav'n Mad Cheddar. Currently all our Rav'n Mad is aged one year, so it will soon be time to schlep back to the brewery to grab some more.
The curds soak a half-hour, and then are molded into wheels in our press, are pressed overnight, and then aged three months to a year.
The remaining concoction is a mixture of whey, salt and the original beer. It is not good for much, but Linda uses it as an ingredient in some very flavorful bread.
So there you have it - we take our alcohol (and cheese) seriously, and ensure it's good to the last drop! Be sure to send us your cheesy questions.
See you soon!
Alise, Lucas, Linda and Jerry