Curds and Whey
All about making cheese.
All about making cheese.
I’m working on it!
Besides waiting to wean a couple of babies, we’re also feeding a small lamb goat milk. We’re getting her milk from Honey, our Pygmy/Nubian/Boer cross. She’s giving us nearly a quart per day to supplement the lamb formula.
While I’m waiting on the goats, we (all the Four Country Gals) have been busy making preparations for the commercial kitchen. You read that correctly… commercial kitchen.
How did I go from “cottage license” to “commercial kitchen”?
Here’s the legalese of the whole thing in layman’s terms. A cottage kitchen license is granted when you comply with all the regulations for a cottage license. It’s designed for people who want to prepare salable food items using their home kitchen.
We couldn’t qualify at all because we have dogs, six of them, running around our house, no doors we can close to isolate the kitchen, etc.
As soon as I mentioned the construction of a kitchen in a shipping container, the cottage kitchen representative wanted no part of it. Hmm…
Now, if you recall, the Dept of Ag was insisting I pasteurize the milk before I cooked it at 220 degrees for about 2 hours. They were clueless. However, they did mention the head Food Scientist at Utah State. Apparently, she’s one of those folks who has a final say on matters.
I finally connected with her, and we had a delightful chat for nearly an hour. Talk about a cheerleader!
She sees no reason to pasteurize. Together, we’ll establish a log to prove traceability batch by batch. As long as I keep the “Water activity” below .85, I’ll have a shelf-stable product. One other little step will be to turn the jars upside down for a minute or two before hot sealing with a hot water bath, and I’ll have to do that for 15 minutes rather than the normal 10 minutes (because of our elevation).
She concurred that with the kitchen being a free standing building, I would come under the commercial kitchen regulations. Now, that’s really great news, because it removes several limitations. I no longer have to say “home produced” on the label, and I may sell the cajeta to restaurants, gift stores, food stores, as well as on line, and local retail.
Bev and Cindy have been busy, too. A neighbor of ours has moved and is selling the contents of his house. So far, we’ve scored a SS Refrigerator/Freezer, a chest freezer, and the four-wheeled cart I wanted for transporting milk from the goats to the kitchen.
We’ve also ordered video editing software, so I can begin working on the professional promo video to post on Kickstarter, once my recipe has been approved, and the license granted.
Here’s our timeline for the near future.
1. Make test batches of Cajeta until I am satisfied with it. I’ll be looking for color, taste, consistency.
2. Send samples to the food scientist at USU for her approval.
3. Design label and get it approved.
4. Prepare land for the container site (move trailer, wood pile, etc).
5. Create remodel plan for the container, floor plan, and grey water plan.
6. Design and build milking parlor and get approval from Dept of Ag.
7. Produce video for the Kickstater project.
I expect these activities to take most of the summer.
Once we are back to one Farmer’s Market per week, we’ll purchase the container (assuming a successful Kickstarter project), and do the remodeling needed to create a commercial kitchen. That means that once the goats begin producing milk in the spring of 2014, we’ll have Cajeta for you to purchase.
Over the next week or so, I’ll be constructing some surveys designed to help us know what you would like to purchase at the Cedar City Farmer’s Markets (year round, or seasonal).
We will also be asking about other ways to get our produce, meat and eventually cheese into your hands… should we go to other markets… what about online sales… would you come to the farm if we had a farm stand. These are the things we really want to know about.
So, I’ll be using Survey Monkey to help craft the questions and the answers. You may answer anonymously. In a few cases, we’ll need to know locations, but not your identity.
With the construction of our two hoop houses, and enough data to prove that our aquaponics system will produce sell-able product, we have a very exciting future. We’re already selling lamb by the whole or half, and are considering selling lamb and goat by the cut. Within the next two years, we will open a creamery for making cheese, first hard cheeses, and eventually soft cheeses.
As you can see… you’re a very large part of what we do. You need to tell us what you want, how you want it, where you want it, when you want it… kind of like a Journey moment. Give us your feedback in future surveys.
There’ll be a special category for “Surveys”.
This is a total departure from what I normally write about. But, I think it’s as important to reach out and help others in ways I can, rather to sit back and watch them struggle, or even fail.
I follow a a fellow goat owner called, The Goat Dairy. They are located in the USA (501c3), and are working feverishly to help build a school project that would put a goats in the hands of almost all the farmers on the island of Grenada.
I know, most of us think of the West Indies as a paradise. However, the native population is extremely poor, living on much lower than subsistence levels. By putting goats into each family’s hands, they can milk them, use the offspring for meat, and even have animals to sell or barter for other needs.
The school project will help educate the youth, and thereby create a new culture, where goats and their by-products will help eradicate nutritional deficiencies, and even lift up the economy… far better than “foreign aid” in my humble opinion.
Here’s what I need for you to do.
Go to The Goat Dairy. Donate whatever you feel you can afford. As you’ll see, you get some pretty neat rewards for your donations. This has to be done IMMEDIATELY, as this project will only be funded if at least $55,000 is pledged by Friday Sep 28, 11:53am EDT.
One more thing… I really believe a Kickstarter project could be in our future as we build our goat cheese operation. Please get acquainted with the project and how the funding works… it’s an all or nothing deal.
If you’d like to read more about this incredible project (and maybe even find a way to duplicate it here in the USA), explore their actual web site.