Saturday, August 25, 2012

Locally Grown: Farmhouse Pizza

The reason I am posting about homemade ricotta has mainly to do with our goats and uses of their goats milk.  Early on in my farming life, I read about Coach Farms also in NYS, and how successful they have been with goat's cheese - chevre - the fresh kind.  Twenty years later, we have goats, and our herd is growing.  Now I have to decide what is the best use of the goat's milk!  Since our farm is specializing in all things Neopolitan pizza - I thought it may be good to see how homemade ricotta comes out with some goats milk and some heavy cream from cows milk.  We have a really great dairy - Evans Farmhouse - that makes a decadent heavy cream - so yellow/cream colored and rich.

Nearby to the farm, we already have 2 cheesemakers - one that makes raw milk aged cheeses of different varieties.  And another that makes the chevre.  So I thought instead of duplicating their work - (I use their cheese on our pies too) - and I'll try a different cheese and see how it comes.   I know a dairy nearby that produces curds and I'll work with them on fresh mozzarella.

Ultimately, the pizzas will be entirely fresh picked and locally grown and baked all right here in the Unadilla Valley and expanding to other areas of the Northeast.  I've had the idea to freeze prepared veggies and meals since 2005 and things are only finally coming to fruition.  We already grow the tomatoes, basil, garlic and the cheeses, mushrooms, other herbs can be purchased from others.   To be continued...

Homemade Ricotta: Lemon Juice

Makes about 1 generous cup of ricotta
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream (see Note above about using less)
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pour the milk, cream and salt into a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190°F, stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Turn off the heat [Updated] Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Discard the whey, or, if you’re one of those crafty people who use it for other things, of course, save it. Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

from Smitten Kitchen

Homemade Ricotta: Calcium Lactate

Mrs G's Homemade Ricotta

2 teaspoons calcium lactate
2 litre whole milk
300ml pure cream 
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste

Mix 1/2 cup of lukewarm water with the calcium lactate and stir to dissolve.
In a non reactive pan mix the milk, cream and salt. Stir in the water/calcium lactate mixture and place over medium heat. Do not stir. Have ready a bowl of water and a ladle this will be used to control the temperature of the milk. I assume this was used before there ever was thermometers to measure that the temperature was correct. It just goes to show we don't need fancy equipment to make good food.
As you see a bubble rise to surface pour a little ladleful of water to cool it. You will see the curds forming. It will not take long. Do not allow it to boil or heat for too long or your ricotta will be tough.  When all the ricotta has come to the surface turn off the heat and ladle out the curds into a fine strainer. You can line it with cheese cloth but Mrs G never bothers.

From Marcellina in Cucina

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Farm to Table Tour: To Benefit UUVA

I love learning about fellow NYS and Northeast farmers and artisans.  All part of the effort for consumers to Know Your Food.  It is just as important to see the people work and the environment as it is to know the location.   We promote and support local vendors and producers through our   We spend time going to the farm and seeing the process.  Only five farms are part of this tour  - featuring Wrobel Farm in Bridgewater, us-  Ambrosia Farms, Dutch Girl Cheese in Leonardsville,  Poplar Hedge Farm  and The Captain's Grove in West Winfield.  Here is a list of all the local farms in the Upper Unadilla Valley I can think of - they include:

Ambrosia Farms -, hay & woodwork,  Horse & Hound Rescue
Bates Farm - Ayrshire cattle
Dutch Girl Cheese - artisan cheese maker
Poplar Hedge Farm - dairy goats and artisan cheese maker
The Captain's Grove - maple syrup
Wrobel Farm - garlic, hops, corn
Haar Family Farm - eggs
Fiddle Tree Farm - veggies and orchard
Aaron Amish Farm - strawberries, baked goods, and veggies
Spooner - lamb and sheep

Your $10 ticket will benefit Upper Unadilla Valley Association whose work has brought attention to preservation of historic homes and natural resources in our area.  Some farms will give out free samples.  We are proud to be able to participate and let people know the work we do on the farm to raise heirloom veggies and build artisan custom woodwork as well as preserve our old growth forest, natural resources, open land, and great and loving care of our domestic and farm animals.

Big Business: Organic Packaged Lettuce