If you like the flavour and texture of homemade yoghurt and labne, you might like to have a go at making curds and whey. I am reading Anthia Koullouros's book 'I am Food'. Our local Nundle Library ordered it in for me and I have since bought it because I want it in my kitchen permanently, it's so full of good advice. You may have read some of Anthia's articles in Country Style magazine.
This week I followed Anthia's instructions for separating curds and whey. It's a simple process, starting with one litre of high quality, full fat milk, unhomogenised if possible. We are lucky our local grocer sells Peel Valley Milk's Gold Top Milk, from a dairy just 20 minutes drive away. It is unhomogenised and when you open the screw top lid there is a lovely layer of cream to spoon out.
Pour one litre of milk into a sterilised, wide mouth glass jar and cover loosely with a lid, allowing the release of carbon dioxide produced in the fermentation process. Stand the jar at room temperature for one to four days, depending on the temperature. In colder weather you may need to stand the jar in warm water for one to two days. I was fermenting sauerkraut, and curds and whey in a cupboard at the same time, which made for some interesting comments about rich kitchen smells from our family.
When the curds and whey have separated in the jar, prepare to strain the contents. Line a large bowl with several layers of muslin. Pour in the separated milk, then tie the curds in the cloth with cooking twine, allowing enough twine to suspend the curds from a kitchen cupboard door knob (I used a thumb tack in a window frame) over the bowl. Stand for several hours so the whey drains from the curds. When the whey stops dripping, pour the whey into a glass jar with a lid and store in the fridge for up to six months. Anthia suggests using the whey for soaking nuts, seeds, grains and beans and pickling vegetables. I've been soaking my buckwheat groats, walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds overnight for my breakfast porridge. Delicious.
Scape the the curds/cheese into a glass container with a lid. Anthia recommends mixing the curds in herbs and spices, or rolling into balls and dropping them in a jar of olive oil. For a savoury mix, try flaked natural salt, freshly cracked pepper, dried rosemary, thyme, and sage. For sweet curds mix with cinnamon powder, cloves and nutmeg and serve with fruit, as you would yoghurt.