Cheese Lovers Newsletter (9.6.2020): Instant Pot Brie Recipe
Hi Cheese Lovers!
What’s new this week:
Our first QUESTION OF THE WEEK, below.
Construction: Upon learning of a successful grant application, we poured concrete to make room for a storage shed and outdoor refrigerated cooler. This will give us the space to manage other Minnesota cheeses and shipments, and give our employees some room to breathe when packaging up your order. Currently, we make very efficient (and claustrophobic) use of our hallway for packaging and shipping preparation, and with only one refrigerator we often have it filled to the brim with cheese. This is a good thing, but it is time to expand.
Recipe: Instant Pot Apple butter + Little Lucy Brie
Here’s the apple butter we made with apples from an orchard near you: https://adventuresofmel.com/instant-pot-apple-butter/ and here’s what it looked like when we were done. Four of five Sjostroms agree (and the fifth is six months old): It was delicious.
From the Farm: Corn Silage Coming…
In southern Minnesota, dairy farmers are going gangbusters on corn silage. Like us, in addition to their crop of often alfalfa or alfalfa/grass hay, one of the best feeds for cows according our veterinarian and bovine nutritionists is corn silage. It makes up about half of the feed on our farm, and we get one chance to harvest it at optimal times per year.
We aren’t there yet, but we’ll have a crew come with a “chopper” or forage harvester, trucks and heavy tractors to make what is essentially a horizontal silo under a sheet of plastic covered by tires. Some of our neighbors have started, or even finished, their harvest of corn silage, but based on when we planted, the weather we got and the genetics of our corn ours won’t be ready for another few weeks, most likely. Then we need availability of our crew and our own employees once finished to cover the pile quickly.
The silage then begins to ferment in an anaerobic (air-free) environment, so we cover it quickly and hopefully have about 20-25 people for a few hours of time (and hopefully on a windless day) to get it covered.
I’m writing all this now because, inevitably, we won’t have time corn silage week. Hopefully we DO have time to take some pictures and it will make more sense.
Question of the Week: Can good cheese come from corn-fed cows?
Answer: Yes, indeed our cows eat corn, but are also not really “corn-fed” at all.
First, we feel like corn has been given a really bad name by some the past few years. Farmers grow it because it is so versatile and has such a huge market due to that versatility. 100% of our corn goes to our cows or neighbors’ cows, but if we had an extremely lucky year we could sell our corn on the open market, where it could be made to lots of stuff including plastic and batteries and these 13 things as outlined by Farm Progress magazine.
Sure, we'd love of people replaced that high-fructose corn syrup with milk. But if they don't, the market will provide. If they do, farmers will adjust the crops they grow.
We do feed corn silage and often corn gluten byproducts, like those from an ethanol or soda pop plant, as do most dairy farms throughout the United States. We do not need to, and you could get by with a corn-free diet, but it can be more difficult to find optimal feed for your cows.
Lucas did his graduate studies at the West Central Research and Outreach Center of the University of Minnesota, which included one herd that was completely grass-fed with no supplements besides minerals, and then different levels including some supplemented grain all the way to a mixture of feed much like at Jer-Lindy Farms, LLC. The grass-only cows were the cheapest to feed, but made the least milk and, well, had less desirable manure. We didn’t need any convincing, but it was visual proof for us that – based on our soil, management style and our facilities – a totally mixed ration of corn silage, alfalfa, and proteins with vitamins and minerals was best for our cows. If we had very sandy soils, something else might make more sense.
Cows’ four-part stomach is made up of bugs (bacteria) that break down the feeds. So, how well we grind the feeds and the more surface area we provide will also determine how much milk the cows will make, how healthy they will be and how much their bones and muscles will grow… along with reproductive strengths to growing another calf.
If we think back to where Holstein cows came from – northern German and Holland – they had prairies of grass that would develop grain, along with legumes. This is exactly what our cows receive. Corn, a grass, grows and develops grain. This grain makes up a small percentage of the total diet, but really helps unlock the milk potential of our cows with fiber, fat, protein and carbohydrates – along with vitamins and minerals. Corn silage (mostly grass with pulverized corn kernels as grain) makes up about 45% of our cows’ diet by weight, followed by alfalfa hay made as baleage (we’ll cover baleage another time) at 35%, and soybean meal, corn gluten and other proteins and minerals as selected by our nutrient rounding out the diet.
We’ll finish up the answer to say that, in the unfortunate circumstance that we’d have a terrible corn crop, we’d be in big trouble and have to find other things to feed (or truck in more feed from other people). Likewise, if our alfalfa doesn’t turn out or the proteins get expensive, we may add more corn silage… as figured out by our nutritionist.
Cows like consistency, so any changes need to be done gradually, or we would likely, unfortunately, have more visits from the veterinarian.
Keep sending the questions! Until next time…
Alise, Lucas, Linda and Jerry