Archive | July, 2013

Scrap Thistle goat cheese on Sunday Brunch.

18 Jul

4 days before the show, one of the producers ask me if i could make a cheese.

I duly advised her it could not be made in 7 mins ( time my item last on the show ), though i could make some before and bring everything over! 

So there i was, i had now to deliver a cheese that could be made easily by the viewers without too much hassle and expense!

Which type of coagulation should i go for? I chose lactic as i did not want to purchase animal rennet,  i wanted to experiment with thistle cheese making as a mean to roll back the years and understand more about how our ancestors might have made their cheese.

Indeed well before animal rennet had been discovered, man started making lactic cheese using a variety of plants to coagulate warm milk. Thistle, stinging nettle, artechoke flowers, … , may be used in combination with heat to coagulate milk. 

I chose thistle as it is readily available in many overgrown gardens, i found mine in some front garden in Brixton. There is an enzyme in the odd flower, this enzyme though not as strong as the animal rennet enzyme chymosin, will help in coagulating warm milk.

Careful when using thistle though if you are taking some treatment for liver and bladder disease!

As for the choice of milk:

Pasteurized or raw then? It is up to you, if you chose raw, you know that your milk has not been treated so you rely on the farmer professionalism to keep the milk safe from pathogens and then your cleanliness to do so. If you chose pasteurized, the intensity of the pasteurization will determine in most cases the quality of your cheese. A clean barely touched milk, be it cow, goat, yak, horse, …, or ewe will make a fresh cheese.

I have chosen for my home made cheese some goat’s milk from the shelf, it is likely you end up with the same one i chose, it was lightly homogenized, pasteurized and semi skimmed as there was no full fat left, i stirred clear of standard pasteurized homogenized so called fresh cow’s milk from the shelf as it has not produced great results in the past. I hoped when choosing goat’s milk that it would be less processed therefore would create a better curding.

You may have a local farmer close by, why don’t you go and ask him if he sells raw milk? 


You may not know but I promote artisan food via the teaching of Food Hygiene.

So a bit on Food Hygiene now:

Most of the cheese making, you will try now will take place at ambient temperature which is considered unsafe. It is on the contrary safe in your very own kitchen at one condition that you maintain hygienic working conditions all along the process from start to mouth. The kitchen must not be warmer than 20 celcius and preparation areas must be kept, clean, disinfected and dry. All equipment ( 3 preservation jars big enough for one liter of milk, a muslin ) must be sterilized, no need to say your personal hygiene and hand washing are very important too!



The making: Start coagulation 6pm 4 july / start drainage 4pm 5 July / End drainage and salting 4 pm 6 July / unmolding 6am 7July .

I have done a thistle brew with a water no hotter than 63 celcius, i am killing most pathogens and try to keep enzymes in good shape. 

Pour 1 liter of milk in one of your jars, i have put about 6 tablespoons of my thistle brew, I was not sure about the efficiency of my brew so i have cheated by taking a piece of lactic cheese where i knew there would be ferment which would help along making my cheese ( starter ). and i kept the milk at 37c for up to 18 hours. I maintained a constant temperature for most of the process, you may do so by using a large pan in which you will bain marie the coagulation jar. 

I have now reached that stage when i have a clear split curd and whey ( yellow green colour ). I may start to drain the curds. I use a large preserving jar on which top i secure a muslin leaving about two thirds of its height free at the bottom in order to keep the draining curds away from the drained whey which i will take away and put aside in another jar during the whole drainage. It is ever so important you are gentle when you start pouring your whey and curds in the muslin, Your curds will be rather wet and fragile, some may go through the muslin, once you have reached the top of the mold, cover up and wait till some space become available and then pour gently more curds and whey, repeating the same process till you have finally drained the whole liter.

It took about 12 hours to drain most of the whey, i salted the curds in the muslin ( 2 grams approx ) and covered again for another few hours, the salt will make its way through the curds, act as preservative, and expel more whey which will allow you to take the cheese out of its mold. 

You may try your cheese.


I can not say for sure how big a part the thistle played in the cheese making, i can say though i enjoyed going through those lengths to make the cheese. Quite economical as a bottle of goat’s milk cost me the same price as a bad cheese, i even got away making some bread with leftover whey.

I have given a rather simple non technical approach on cheese making, the objective was to inspire and maybe take you on the start of a long road.

if you desire to learn more i shall encourage you to visit my friends at

As for the equipment, if you really desire to spend, have got plenty of supplies.


I am now wanting to go back to Sunday Brunch and carry on with my 7 mins to inspire with the next subject on understand cheese: Affinage, how are cheese aged?


Raw Milk and The Law

17 Jul


1. The current controls on the sale of raw cows’ drinking milk in hygiene and food labelling regulations are:

a) the milk may only be sold direct to consumers by registered milk production holdings (at the farm gate or in a farmhouse catering operation) or through milk roundsmen. Sales through other outlets have been banned since 1985 (although sales by the farmer at farmers markets are allowed);

b) the supplying animals must be from a herd that is officially tuberculosis free, and either brucellosis free or officially brucellosis free;

c) the production holding, milking premises and dairy, must comply with hygiene rules;

d) the milk must bear the appropriate health warning; [e.g; This milk has not been heat treated and therefore may contain organisms harmful to your health.”]

e) compliance with a) to d) above is monitored by inspections twice a year; and

f) the milk is sampled and tested quarterly under the control of the Agency to monitor compliance with standards for total bacterial count and coliforms.

2. The sale of raw drinking milk from sheep, goats or buffaloes:

a) is not subject to the restriction at 1a) above;

b) raw drinking milk from buffaloes has to comply with the herd status requirement at 1b) above;

c) raw drinking milk from sheep and goats must come from animals belonging to a production holding that is either officially brucellosis free or brucellosis free;

d) raw drinking milk from these 3 species must comply with dairy hygiene rules and microbiological standards;

e) In England, raw drinking milk from sheep and goats, but not buffaloes, has to carry the health warning. In Wales, raw milk from all three species has to carry the appropriate health warning; and

f) compliance with these requirements is monitored at inspections programmed on a risk basis.

3. The sale of raw cream:

a) is not subject to the restrictions at 1a) and d) above;

b) must comply with all the requirements that apply to milk based products under dairy hygiene rules and microbiological standards;

c) must be made with milk meeting the herd status criteria described in paragraphs 1b) and 2b) and c) above;

d) raw cream is not required to carry the health warning; and

e) compliance with these requirements is, again, monitored at inspections programmed on risk.

For more info see: