Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Our bread and butter, in the form of "fromage"

Fromage is the term that was used around here to describe the spreadable chevre that goes into our soft flavored cheeses, logs, smoked rounds and truffles. Many goat cheese makers produce this white fresh cheese using variations of the same method. Because it is a fresh product, meaning not aged and usually produced and sold with days, it is always pasteurized. Here at Goat Lady there is always fresh chevre in some stage of production - pasteurizing, ripening, draining, pressing, storing, mixing/shaping and packaging. This all goes on along side the production of the aged cheeses I spend most of my time on.

The production of fresh chevre goes like this: a standard load of 118 gallons of fresh goat milk is loaded into the pasteurizer. The pasteurization cycle is the gentler 145 degrees for 30 minutes (LTLT). The milk is cooled to 80 degrees, culture and rennet, added and left in the pasteurizer overnight to ripen . This overnight process relies on the production of lactic acid to bring the milk into its curdled state. It develops a gel-like consistency, has separation of whey and developes cracks. The cracks are more pronounced here as the pumping of the curd as begun.

At 4 AM Carrie's husband Bobby arrives at the dairy to 'dip' (pump) the set curd into drain bags. This is job Steve did for 12 years in addition to full day shifts. But as he says, "I was beginning to get a bit tired" so he hired Bobby to take on the task this year. I haven't gotten up early enough to see Bobby at work but just by chance last week we had a particularly late set that allowed Steve to do the dipping at the start of our regular 7 AM shift. Here he is loading up the drain bags using our handy pumping machine that is part of nearly everything we do in the cheese room.

Once in the drain bags, the curd settles as the whey drips out. At the end of the day we put the bags with the curd onto a drain table, place large cutting boards on top and then buckets with water. The curd presses overnight. The next morning it is loaded into buckets and placed in the walk-in for strorage until ready for production. We sell 10 flavors of fresh spreadable cheese, logs which can be plain, herbed, peppercorn, or marinated, or molded and then smoked. This time of year the chocolate truffles don't survive the heat and aren't made. All these are the quickly producted and quickly sold that are essential to support the more time consuming and less profitable aged cheese business.

1 comment:

Michael said...

So, I want to know if I'll make it into the blog. There were no pics of me in the cheese room.