Sunday, February 8, 2015

Slow food: slow milk makes slow cheese

Click here for the original article from slowfood.com

Why Raw Milk


Raw milk is milk that hasn't been submitted to heat treatment. Various treatments exist, that kill most micro micro-organisms present in milk, both "good" and "bad" bacteria.
Today, pasteurization of milk is the norm. The practice is a combined response to the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis through contaminated milk at the beginning of the last century, and the change in farming methods that took place in the second half of the century. The transition to industrial farming led to a rapid fall in the animals' quality of life and increase in handling of the milk, and therefore a higher risk of food borne illness.

Milk is unquestionably a susceptible product to contamination and like many food substance it can contain pathogens.

So why are we defending raw milk?

In defense of bacteria...

Not all bacteria are bad. While heat kills any potentially harmful pathogens, it also eliminates the bacteria naturally present in the milk that contribute to its flavor and the complexity and character of the cheeses made from it. Also, a growing body of evidence attests that the bacteria found in raw milk have many health benefits, including better digestion. Furthermore, lactic acid-producing bacteria normally present in raw milk actually act to limit or kill bad bugs - some of which survive heat treatments or find their way back after this process.

Pasteurized milk is effectively "dead milk". To build flavor in cheese made from it, cheesemakers must re-introduce bacteria through the form of starter cultures - pre-selected strains of bacteria made in a laboratory and available in powder form. These selected bacteria are the same the world-over, and together with pasteurized milk they make cheeses lacking character and diversity that are identical from Japan to Australia to Sweden.
The U.S. is the world's biggest cheese producer, but can you think of ONE American cheese? Cheddar maybe, except that the cheese named after it's British ancestor is a far cry from the taste (and health benefits) that made it popular in the first place.

A taste for raw milk

Have you ever tasted a raw milk cheese? If you have ever eaten traditional Italian Parmesan, Dutch Gouda or French Camembert you have, but many only have the opportunity to try their mass-produced industrial counterparts.

With raw-milk cheeses you taste the breed, the environment and of course the expertise of the cheesemaker. Milks from different breeds are as varied as the breeds themselves; the pasture that the animals grazed - mountains, hills, valleys or plains; and the season the cheese was made. All of these elements are evident in the end product, combining in countless ways to produce the unique cheeses we love. When milk is pasteurized, we lose this diversity and pave the way to abandoning food cultures and animal biodiversity.

What is the point of working to maintain the biodiversity of breeds and ensuring high quality feed if all the cheeses produced are identical? By defending raw milk, we are also defending animal welfare, the protection of landscapes and environments, and entire communities that still maintain artisanal skills such as those of shepherds, cheese makers and affineurs.

How big is the risk, really? 

In most countries that have a long tradition of cheesemaking, raw milk is not only legal but highly valued, always proudly mentioned on the label.

However in most Anglo-Saxon countries, where the industrial food system was more eagerly embraced, raw milk has been submitted to fierce, over-hygienic food safety regulations in recent decades. Many of these nations have made the sale of raw milk or raw-milk cheese subject to heavy regulation in an attempt to achieve an impossible and arguably detrimental goal of zero risk. In the USA, UK and Ireland, for example, raw milk cheese can be produced but may only be sold after aging for a minimum of 60 days.

At one time diseases such as tuberculosis were a real threat. But by now, these hazards have disappeared in most western countries (and many other countries too) and hygiene standards and animal husbandry have improved enormously. The risk is very limited, and concerns mainly susceptible groups such as pregnant women, young children, elderly and immune compromised, all groups that should also avoid raw meat and be specially attentive to fruit and vegetable cleanliness.

Food safety scares that are more frequently coming up in the news are in fact not coming from milk, but rather cucumbers, bean sprouts, turkeys, eggs. Why aren't we banning these foods? In Ireland, for example, a country that takes pride in it's high quality milk, it is estimated that 100 000 people drink raw milk every day, yet the health statistics do not indicate any alarm.

We can't help but ask ourselves why raw milk has fallen victim to an illogical perception of risk. Is it because of a lingering fear from a time when dangerous viruses had not yet been eradicated? Is it the importance in our diets? The highly symbolic nature of milk (purity, fertility, maternity, etc.) that makes it more susceptible to irrational behiavour? Or that it is specifically from small-scale production, so an attempt to stamp it out doesn't provoke powerful industry lobbying?

Regulations in the food industry are important but must be appropriate to the risk and help build healthy food cultures, not destroy them.

Power to the people

Risks and benefits known, why shouldn't the consumer have a right to purchase raw milk and raw milk cheese if they believe it is important for their wellbeing? There is no reason why these products should not be produced on the farm according to a fairly monitored, controlled and regulated process and sold with adequate labeling.


When it comes to raw milk products, as with many other foods, Slow Food believes we should not trade our freedom of choice and health for convenience and perceived safety.

written by Slow Food - www.slowfood.com

Thursday, February 5, 2015

No updates?

No worries: We still live in Slovakia and still have a farm, however our blog is not so up-to-date anymore.

Social media has almost become a day job with two blogs, two websites, a personal and a Farm & Campsite facebook page. Oooo yes we also have a real farm, a real campsite and a lovely family to keep up and running. So we make choices - and most updates about our farm and campsite are now published on our Facebook fan page. Please like our facebook page to keep informed and amused. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Slowakije in het nieuws

Geen nieuws is vaak goed nieuws voor een land.

Tien jaar woonde ik in vrede en veiligheid in onbekende oorden in West Afrika. Het gaf wel eens aanleiding tot vreemde gesprekken als ik in Nederland was. "Waar woon je?" "In Mali." "Ooh in Bali." "Nee in Afrika in Mali." "Aha in Malawi!".

Pas op! Zo zien mijn ongevaarlijke 
buurmannen er dus niet uit - meestal dragen
 ze camouflagekleding en zeker geen stropdas.
Mede omdat ik het gevoel had dat Mali niet lang meer uit het internationale nieuws zou blijven, verhuisde ik naar onbekend Slowakije. "Zeg woon je nog in Mali?" "Nee, in Slowakije." "Ooh in Slovenie, is het daar nu een beetje rustig?"

Drie dagen geleden kwam Slowakije opeens in het internationale nieuws. Er was een Slowaakse man in camouflagekleding met een kettingzaag opgepakt. Nu lopen al mijn buurmannen in camouflagekleding en met een kettingzagen, zelfs mijn eigen man maakt zich hier regelmatig schuldig aan. Camouflagekleding is een beetje de nationale Slowaakse klederdracht en motorzagen zijn zeer nuttige dingen in een land waar haast iedereen op hout stookt. Niet echt een reden om iemand op te pakken. In de krant stond ook vermeld 'hij gedroeg zich vreemd', wat gezien de gemiddelde alcoholconsumptie hier op het platteland ook niet heel erg vreemd is. 'De man had een pistool bij zich en bevond zich in de buurt van het Brusselse justitiepaleis.' Dat is geen goed nieuws, dat doen mijn buurmannen niet!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Help! I get help.......


One of the main attractions on our campsite is that you can help us on the farm. Milking the animals is a popular one... but milking is also one of my own favorite jobs. I love to be in the milking parlor with only me and the animals at five o'clock in the morning. So when the guests start to arrive more and more I have to open my kingdom to intruders. This starts in June. By the time it is July and August (high season) I am used to it.

I have to admit that it is also very nice to be able to share my love for the animals with others.

Helpers to get the flock to the milking parlor.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

New animals on our farm

May is the month in which our camping season start. Mostly retired couples visit us in May and June but it are also the months in which we are preparing for the families with children arriving in June.

A new attraction will be this dragon.
 And more new animals to be... It ordered hatching eggs in the Netherlands which did actually really arrive.
 However a long power cut didn't help!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Milking again

 Milking 16 sheep,
 12 goats and making lots of cheese! Hopefully our guests will be eager to buy it.
O yes it is also time to get their coats out! Thanks to Zuzana (our neighbour) we managed to do this in a few days. And we had some beers :) after the job.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lambing season and piglets comming home





We had a very successful and happy lambing season this year. 49 sheep lambs and goat kids were born, 49 were healthy and lived (happily hereafter?). We sold all sheep lambs after a good start of two months with their mothers and to our big surprise we also managed to sell all billy goats. 8 promising goat kids stayed on our farm.
 Two months old, just arrived....
A week later, going outside!

And meeting the other family members.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pig Business

We have visited our friend Stefan because his sow Dorka had a new litter of piglets. We choose 2 piglets, still should decide on an appropriate name (suggestions welcome). We needed new piglets because our friend Stefan slaughtered our dear " Karbo & Naadje" - on our request though. This year we have decided to go for "ordianry" pigs. The big pink ones. We have tried the first year Mangalitca pigs. Beautifull animals, strong and healthy. Their fat is supposed to be "healthy". Though it is all about quantity. They were Very Very Fat even though we raised them largely on kitchen waste and roughage. Last year we had a cross of Mangalitca x Large White. Also very healthy and strong. Their meat is less fat, very tastefull. We are very curious what will bring the new piglets.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Goat's milk yoghurt

It has been a challenge for the past years; making yogurt from goat's milk. 

At our farm we make yogurt from sheep's milk. It gives an excellent yogurt, thick, creamy, tasty simply delicious. But you cannot beat nature. When the days start to shorten, milk yields go down and completely dry up in November - December. But we - and our clients - still want yogurt! Nice thick, creamy, tasty yogurt! We still milk some of our goats. But when we apply the standard receipt to their milk all we yield is a rather watery acid kind of nothing. So we started to experiment and we are proud to announce that our test team has approved our new improved goat's milk yogurt!

First we heat up the milk, a few seconds to 90C, without burning it. The milk is cooled down rapidly. Then the milk is heated to 42C and starter is applied. Making yogurt is finding a balance in good and bad bacteria. The good ones thrive in an acid environment. This is why we use some buttermilk together with a good quality yogurt as starter. This is left at 42C for 12 hours. Shorter will result in a more acid yogurt. This is just fine, it gives the yogurt just the fresh taste of acid. Then the water is drained through a cheesecloth for an approximately 5 hours. The solid parts are thoroughly mixed. Let the yogurt cool in the fridge. Our test-team-kid loves it!



Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy Newyear

Best wishes for all readers of this blog
and others!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Lazy way of making Cheese

Winter is slowly installing in Slovakia. Though our herd is still grazing outside milk yields are decreasing. At this moment we only milk our goats. Our sheep fell dry with the shortening of the days. Recently we've made our last "large" quantity of cheese. At Lazy we have a maximum capacity of processing 50 ltrs of milk a day. A true small scale holding. Making of cheese starts of course with high quality clean milk. We milk both by machine and by hand. The milk is sieved and cooled directly after milking.







When we have enough milk to make cheese, the milk is heated to 29 degrees C. Some (2%) buttermilk is added to acidify the milk. This is left for an approximate 30 minutes while keeping the right temperature.











Rennet is added according to the producers label. Slightly stirred and left while maintaining the right temperature  










When the milk has set you can obtain a clean cut with a long knife. The clogged milk is cut squares of appr. 2x2 cm.









The solid parts (curd) are separated from the liquid (whey) by stirring for about 10 minutes cutting the cheese particles to a pea size.









The curd is set to rest for 10 minutes. The curd will sink to the bottom, the whey will float. The whey is then collected. We use the whey to feed our two pigs.








Hot water is added until we have a temperature of 33 degrees C. The curd is stirred again for 10 minutes. Whey is collected and hot water is added again to reach a temperature of 37 degrees C.










The curd is left to ripen for 20 minutes while maintaining the 37 degrees C.











 The cheese moulds are filled.










The last whey is pressed out. We press about 6 hours with 3x the weight of the cheese.










According to size the cheese are pickled in a salt bath for 12-24 hours.










Cheese are ripened in our cheese cellar. They are turned and polished each day to prevent molding and to obtain optimum quality.









This cheese can be eaten after 3 weeks but we like him also at least 6 months old! With or without walnuts!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wood!

Living on a farm does also mean cutting loads of wood to heat the house. Winters are harsh. This year we were lucky with Wim and Ellen Maas who helped us this year. Thank you!

Friday, October 4, 2013

shocking!

We finally found a solution to escaping animals. We have spent a small fortune on electric impuls devices which all proved either to weak or simply not robust enough for our animals. Goats simply jump the fence, sheep go for mass attack. We have found a local electrician who makes home made devices. Our animals are deeply impressed and stay at least 1mtr away from the fence! A nice present for the 4th of october!

Monday, September 23, 2013

mating season












Driekus, our rather particular Dutch billygoat, has returned from a three month visit to a nearby farm.  He will mate the older goats the coming months. For the first year we will try to mate the young goats in early spring so we will have kids in the summer months. Great for our camping guests, also better for the goats and kids. Question is; will they get their heat during winter?


Bob, our Suffolk ram, has also been reunited with his girls. We have a field of yellow bottomed sheep at the moment.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Drought


It has been an extreme dry summer. Our once so lush pasture has turned into a field of standing hay. Goats are disgusted. We asked our village cooperative permission to put our animals on their freshly mown luzerne fields. They agreed! Good neighborship always pays off!  Thank you Cerovan Drustzvo.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tok Tok goes facebook!

Our most apreciated chicken Tok-Tok
goes facebook! Share and like!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

no show

 

Temperatures are rising and our sheep are still in their winter coat. Time to give the shearer a call. He did a very good job last year. Easier said than done. He appeared continuously bussy for the comming few weeks. No time for a small holder. We were lucky having an experienced sheap shearer family camping at our campsite. We took out their coats by hand shearing! Thank you Aurora and mum!

Friday, June 14, 2013

survivors


One of the big egg producing farms in the area has gone bankrupt. The chickens had not been fed for the past few days in the hope that the eggs would pay for the food. Which did not happen. Our neighbour bought a dozen chickens for 50ct. We got six. What did we do to our agriculture system when the value of a living animal does not exceed 50 cents ?!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

please allow us to introduce ourselves

Our organic waste recycle team 2013; Karbo & Naatje
Mangalitza x Large White

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lush green grass

Friday, May 10, 2013

The first camping guests have arrived and the vegetable garden is full with activity!