I wish I could be like Mary Keehn
And say “It came to me in a dream.”
But truth be told, it was just dumb luck
That I’d glimpse a land
My eyes ain’t seen.
Just dumb luck
That turned the goose into a duck
Into a swan, that flew up so high
Then into a pretty butterfly.
This story starts about a month or so ago – Sept 19th. and the last time I’d try to make the Sao Jorge type cheese.
Rule No. 1.“When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!”
A number of things didn’t go smoothly that make (too little rennet combined with too little knowledge etc.) I could never get a “closed rind” with this recipe and this make was no different – and when I finally put the wheels into the brine I knew that was it – never again – it was over.
But I’m not one to quickly give up on a cheese, so after brining I cut the wheels into big wedges (about ¾ lbs. each)……and you know what? The fresh curd tasted really good! I gave some to my son to try. He’s an unflinching critic who’d give it to me straight. Mouth (and eyes) closed and munching he nodded in the affirmative, “Feta – yah, good”, he mumbled.
And yes it was damned good! . And so I thought maybe a “feta” was in my future and maybe I could nudge the recipe over in that direction. But after a little research – no. The typical feta recipes weren’t close enough to just tweak a bit to get from “here to there”, and besides, I discovered there were many “fetas”. Similar cheeses made all throughout a part of the world I’ll never know – “The Mediterrain”.
So no, now it was time to put down the books and think……
“Think harder Homer.” Bart Simpson.
No, this cheese was so good I’d make it again the exact same way, – but with purpose this time. I dug out some square cheese molds I’ve had kicking around and bought some lumber and fashioned some “presses”. Draining boards on bottom, with wood “follower” lids that would fit over the tops – 4 molds at a time. I’d create small cheese “blocks” – 4” squares, about 3” tall. I’d figure out the optimum drying and brining times for these little blocks and then wax them – And then “time” them – eat them fresh – and again at a month – then at 2 months and so on.
Stay tuned for “The Mediterrain”.