Friday, September 26, 2014

Feta Cheese Making with a Sous Vide

The Valhalla Project offers combat veterans and war zone contractors a full spectrum of homesteading activities, and this past August some of our Valhallans took on the feta cheese making challenge while using a Sous Vide water oven. This was a very small batch using a single gallon of raw cow's milk (usually we use three gallons yet we only had a gallon to spare on this specific occasion). Matt, Ben, Carl, and Darrell had never made any kind of cheese before, yet they certainly did a standup job demonstrating each step in this video:

If you like what you see here, please help keep the Valhalla Project
homestead programs running for our combat veterans!

What else did these
combat veterans do during
their August 2014 stay at
the Valhalla Project?

* Built two huge compost
piles using old bedding from
Goat Manor and grass clip-
pings from the garden

* Put up a cattle panel fence
for the new sheep yard

* Dedicated the new
Sergeant Yihjyh Chen
Memorial Tree and Hill
site above Kephart Pond

* Harvested six turkey toms
and a small rooster; dunked,
plucked, cleaned and pre-
pared them for roasting and
the freezer

* Laughed over Ranger Up's
"The Damn Few" episode on
VA red tape experiences

* Observed a newly downed
tree that had split during a
bad storm the night before
and assessed it for firewood

* Followed Valhalla's first
nature trail markers through
the forest (nobody got lost)

* Matt invented roast beef
sauerkraut appetizer rolls

* Ben and Carl learned to
make fermented sauerkraut
from scratch

* Carl helped make bone
broth, and rolled up a Wild
Venison Meatloaf Spiral
stuffed with spinach and
homemade feta cheese

* Darrell baked a banana
bread loaf, and also woke
everybody up with fluffy
pancakes, scrambled eggs
and bacon for breakfast

* Ben, Matt, & Carl worked
on the Lancer Legacy Ranch
preliminary plan for a yet-
to-be-acquired property
they intend to establish in
Texas (click here for more)

* Toured the upper pasture
and swales as part of a
Valhalla permaculture pro-
gram progress review

* Fed and took care of
Valhalla's flocks of ducks,
chickens, turkeys, goats, and
sheep as well as the rabbits,
livestock protection dogs,
and of course Valkyrie the
"almost-dog" (she's still
mostly a puppy) twice daily
Supplemental notes

Normally we would use raw goats milk from our own herd of Alpines, yet the goat nannies took the year off after Valhalla President Gordon Cucullu's artificial knee fell apart in November 2013. This led to the discovery that he had been walking around on a broken leg since 1999. Major surgery that included replacing most of his right femur in addition to the knee followed in early March of this year, along with the decision to suspend our dairy operations until next spring.

We were still able to acquire some raw cow's milk for our feta cheese making demonstration from our neighbors. Paul and Theresa's cows free range and the green grasses that they consume results in nutrient dense pure milk. In contrast, just about all of the milk sold in grocery stores has been pasteurized -- that is, store-bought milk has been heated to high temperatures to kill all bacteria, including very good bacteria that helps people to digest their food and otherwise maintain their health. Some of these good bacteria are also an important part of naturally fermenting foods, including cheese. Yes, it is true that pasteurization helps to extend the shelf life of milk, yet we'd prefer to extend the shelf life ourselves by converting pure unadulterated raw milk into cheese in Valhalla's own kitchens.

Can you still follow the directions as demonstrated in our video to make your own feta cheese using pasteurized store-bought milk? Yes, absolutely, and please realize just about all commercially available cheese sold in the United States has been made with pasteurized milk. It won't be as pure and nutrient dense as the kind that is made with raw milk, although it will still be very tasty. There's few things as satisfying as making a batch of your very own homemade cheese from scratch, so we encourage you to take on the feta cheese making challenge just as Matt, Ben, Carl and Darrell did here at Valhalla.

Q: Does Valhalla sell any of it's top quality
fermented feta cheese that's made with raw milk? Is it available to the general public?

A: No, all of the pure foods produced here are always reserved for combat veterans and war zone civilian workers who come to Valhalla to learn homesteading or simply want to decompress while making the transition into their new civilian lives following military service.

Feta Cheese Making
Ingredients, Measurements, and
Written Instructions

Instead of reinventing the wheel by typing out our version of feta cheese making specifics, we would instead like to sincerely thank Rebecca for the absolutely wonderful tutorial that she wrote on the "Foodie with Family" blog.

Rebecca, although we've never met (and you probably haven't ever heard of the Valhalla Project), we followed your written instructions as closely as we could and achieved total success on our first try! In fact we made three delicious batches of feta before asking Matt, Ben, Carl and Darrell if they'd like to make a video demonstrating their interpretation of your instructions, and the final product again proves the value of your article to cheese making neophytes.

Click here to read Rebecca's feta cheese making instructions and see the links on where to buy ingredients on her blog.

* * *

The Valhalla Project needs your help and support
We need YOUR help to keep Valhalla functioning efficiently - while at the same time expanding vitally important programs to assist post-9/11 combat veterans and war zone civilian workers to transition back into the civilian world. 

The Valhalla Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit 
organization recognized by the IRS.
Nobody, including cadre or board members, draws a paycheck here, nor will they ever: we simply give everything we have to make Valhalla possible. 100% of your donation via Paypal will go directly to program expenses, period. 

1 comment:

  1. Loved this! Can't wait to make feta when I can get a hold of some raw milk!