Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cheese and Soap School

Our third day spent at Stony Knolls Farm with Jan and Ken Spaulding was thankfully indoors. What can you do with the all of that goat milk when the does start producing? Well two good ideas to start with are cheese and soap. For thousands of years mankind has milked goats and made cheese. Goats are such a compact animal and easily managed. They are a natural choice for the small family with children. Goat milk is an easily digested source of vitamins and calcium. If you are lactose intolerant, chances are you will be able to drink goat milk and eat goat cheese. The molecules are smaller in goat milk and closely resemble human milk. I personally feel that we have destroyed anything good in cow milk the minute it is processed. Raw milk is safe and healthy as long as you know the person milking is clean and handles the milk in the correct manner. The milk doesn't taste "goatie". I was so surprised at how clean and good the milk tasted. Jan and Ken are very careful and clean while milking and straining the milk. The goats are clean and healthy and produce wonderful milk. However, there is an abundance of milk with a limited lifetime and something has to be done with all that bounty. So, one natural choice is cheese. The class started in Jan's kitchen. It was spotless. After Goat School she made cheese and soap so that the class could see the finished product. We jokingly told her to write a cookbook in her spare time. She has between midnight and 4am as free time. Who needs sleep? When we arrived this big ball of Chevre was already hanging to drain.

Jan then went through the whole process explaining the different steps so we could see this process from beginning to end. The time frame for Chevre is 3 days from start to finish. So the next time you are at a farmers market and you question the price on the Chevre, just remember how time consuming it is. That person really puts their time, energy and love into cheese making. Beats the heck out of buying it from a major conglomerate with giant machines any day in my book.
After the Chevre has drained it is ready to mix with your choice of seasonings. Jan mixed our batch with Herbes de Provence. This with crackers is a meal! This spreadable cheese can be used on wraps, on baked potatoes under the broiler, spread on bagels like cream cheese, and on white pizza. The refrigerator life for Chevre is about 2 weeks.

Jan taught us how to make feta. Feta is the wonderfully tasty cheese from Greece. It takes a whole gallon of milk to make 1 batch of feta. It is wonderful cubed and marinated in canola oil and herbs.

Last but not least was her 30 Minute Mozzarella. I think this is a favorite cheese for most people. Here, Jan is showing us how to stretch the mozzarella. She has gloves, pots and utensils specific to cheese. Stony Knolls Farm is licensed by the State of Maine and is a working farm in every sense of the word.

Jan served a tasty chicken vegetable soup with her own bread for lunch. Most of the students attending Cheese and Soap School were from the Goat School over the weekend. It seemed like old times with good friends. Anyone who wanted to get into the soap making was welcome. Jon was the first to volunteer when asked. Jan hand stirs her soap. It is a process that is necessary. It does take time and stamina to keep stirring so the fat and lye/goat milk slurry mix does not congeal.
After the mixing was completed, Jan added scent, and oatmeal to the pot. She uses molds to form the bars.
John wanted to try to make a soap ball from a bar that Jan had made the night before. The soap remains soft for about 24 hours. It made a perfect ball and he was amazed at how soft his hands were when he washed the soap off. That is one of the true pluses with Goat Milk Soap. If you have never tried it, please, pick up a bar at your next farmers market. It takes time and love to make and you will not be disappointed.
Hmm..... soap ball.
Jan had a tray full of soaps that she is letting cure. Soap has to air dry for about 6 weeks to let the free radicals from the lye dissipate. The bars become hard and long lasting. If you keep the soap dry it will provide many washes.
It was kind of sad leaving all of our friends. Thank goodness for the internet. We will be able to keep in touch. We had a wonderful time. I highly recommend Goat School to anyone who is interested in raising goats. If you get the chance please check out this issue of Hobby Farm. There is an article with great pictures about Stony Knolls Farm featuring Jan and Ken Spaulding. Thank you both for welcoming us into you home. You guys run a top notch operation there. Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.


Becky said...

What valuable information you both have learned! I would love to go to goat, soap, and cheese school one day!
The food was enough to make me want to go... then add in all the wonderful information... wow!

Anonymous said...

I'm sooooo envious! I bred my goats last fall in the hopes of milking and making cheese this spring. Alas, only two of them got pregnant and one of them has proven to be a hopeless mother. So, the time I would have spent happily milking them has gone into keeping her kids (triplets) alive! Next year eh.



Kelly or Alex said...

Becky- My brain hurts when I look back over the info we recieved in school. Janice is a great cook. I wasn't kidding when I asked her about a cook book.

Howlingduckranch- We are just starting out and I know we will run into some of the same problems. The 2 goats we are getting are proven, great mothers and great milkers. I guess goats are like people. Some make good mothers and some don't. Hopefully next year will be better and you will get to enjoy your milking. They would be easier to cull if I didn't fall in love with every one of the darn things.

Thank you all for commenting. We love to get the comments.

katiegirl said...

Wow, I'd love to learn how to make all those cheeses. I'm going to have to read up come spring!

I lived in Vermont for a little while, just down the road from Laini Fondiller from Lazy Lady Farm. She had a great set up and makes cheese 5 days a week. It would be nice to be able to make cheese on the farm and sell it. Add that to my "to do" list. ;-)

tonya fedders said...

It sounds like you had quite a learning experience! I'll look forward to seeing some more of your own "cheese and soap" posts in the future!

Kelly or Alex said...

Katiegirl-Our to do list just keeps getting longer too. Our dream is to own and manage a dairy goat farm, make cheese and sell in Boston. Hey, it's a dream!
Tonya- I have an Etsy shop online for soap but it costs so darn much to pay Etsy and Pay Pal and ship. Blah. I lost interest. We are going to shoot for Common Ground Fair and local farmers markets for the soap and meat aspect of the farm when the time comes. Still working on permits and licenses.


Terri and Randy Carlson said...

It looks like you had such a great time! I would love to attend! Do you girls ever sleep?

Terri and Randy Carlson said...

What a fun time. I would love to attend. Do you girls ever sleep?