Sunday, November 30, 2014

Making Indian Paneer Cheese

 Paneer is an Indian cheese that is easy to make and delicious!

Making Paneer
Bring milk to a gentle boil.

Bring Your milk to a gentle boil in a non-reactive pot such as stainless steel or porcelain coated.

Stir gently to keep from scalding with a stainless steel spoon.

If you are not using raw milk then add 1/4 tsp calcium chloride mixed in 1/4 c cold sterilized water,  Stir gently for a minute to combine.

Making Paneer cheese
Cheese curds forming.
Add 5 Tsp lemon juice, one at a time, stirring just once or twice to mix lemon juice between each addition.

Turn off your heat immediately.

You can see the curds beginning to form. Allow to sit for 20 minutes.

Spoon curds into a colander  or sieve with a slotted metal spoon into
 lined with 2 layers of cheese cloth or a single  layer of butter muslin.  

cheese making
Cheese curds draining over sieve.
Allow to drain over a pan for 20 minutes.   

I give the whey to my chickens or my garden. Don't dump it down the drain!  It's power packed with nutrients.  

You can add about a teaspoon of salt at this point a little at a time, being sure to mix by turning and squashing with a fork.

Cheese making
Draining whey from cheese curds.

Gather the ends of the cloth together and twist at the top and give a little squeeze.

 This will allow the whey to drain out a bit.
Cheese curds drained.

Take your ball of cheese curds and lay it out on a baking sheet as shown- still in the cloth.

At this point you can simply take another cookie sheet and squash your cheese with it until its about 3/4 of an inch thick.  If you like you can open up the cloth and form the edges neatly with your hands.

I like to form it into a rectangle by placing it in the glass container that I will be storing it in.  I do this by placing the ball with cloth inside of the container (you can use whatever shape you like), I open up the cloth and press the cheese into the form. 

Once you have your desired shape place on a cookie sheet wrapped in the cloth. Place a cookie sheet on top with a few heavy books.

Let it cure for an hour or so (up to 5).  The longer you cure it, the firmerit will be. You can then remove the cloth and store in the fridge or cut up immediately to eat on anything.  My favorite is to make a curry and add into the hot mix for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Keeps in fridge for up to a week.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How to grow Onions

It has taken us 2 years to have good results with onions!

How to prep your beds for onions?
Carefully separating onion bulbs.
Onions are heavy feeders and heavy drinkers.  Till the soil to at least 12" with lime if you are in rainy climates.  If your soil is dense make sure to add composted manure or use cover crops you till in every year to build soil.                                                                                                                  Start your onion seed 6 weeks before in flats to have bulbs ready for planting or purchase bulbs.

Amendments for growing onions:
Making furrows for onion planting
 Heavy amendments are recommended BUT, you needn't fill the whole bed.  The onions are lazy with roots that go down and not very far out.  Our beds are 5' from tire to tire with about 4' of actual bed space.  

If you are using plastic Lay out your fertility such as Chicken poop or mint straw and till in.  Our manure spreader lays out three streams so our fertility is targeted to the lanes the onions sit in.

Laying onion bulbs out for planting in the field.
I Highly recommend laying down drip tape at this time.  Onions drink and cannot dry out.  If you can I would then recommend a weed barrier.  Onions will not thrive with weed competition gulping their water and eating their food.  Weeding can be very time consuming!  Putting down weed barrier will save you time and translate to dollars in your pocket if you are growing for market.  I can't tell you enough how much sense I feel biodegradable weed block is.  If you have a large area removing plastic from your fields is HORRIFIC! Poke your holes in the plastic and plant bulbs 6" apart in rows 10" apart.

If you are not using plastic:
We create 3 furrows about 10' apart.  Fill the furrow with well composted manure like mint straw or chicken poop.  I would recommend sprinkling Humic acid down the furrow and kelp if you can afford it in small beds. Lay the bulbs out being careful NOT to squeeze the necks! Space them 6" apart down the furrows.

Come back and cover your onions sitting them straight up and water them in. You can lay drip tape down even if you aren't using plastic for ease of watering.  Targeted watering also means that weed will dry up in between the isles for lack of overhead water.

How often do I water my onions?
Never let onions completely dry out until you are ready to harvest.  If you are using plastic you will need to water less as your water loss will be significantly less. Watch your soil for signs of drying.  Make sure water is penetrating at least and inch in the soil.

How often do I need to feed?
You should feed your onions every few weeks if you are using folier feeds such as MaxiCrop.  You can use a fertigator in drip systems to inject fish fertilizer every week.  If your onions are in the open you can side dress them with manure once a month.  Feeding is essential for big onions.You can buy humic acid that you can water in.  We like fish and seaweed as well.

Onions are a lot of work but they are a must for market growers and great for storage with the home grower!

Friday, September 26, 2014

African Peanut Soup

If you like peanut butter and a bit of spice, this is a great way to get both.  High in vitamin C and the nuts give a protein boost.  This is a soup I just love!

  • 1 tsp veg oil
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp grated pealed ginger root (optional)
  • 1 c chopped carrots
  • 4 c vegetable stock or water
  • 2 c chopped sweet potatoes
  • 2 c tomato juice
  • 1 c smooth peanut butter
  • 1 c scallions or chives
Heat oil and saute onions till soft. Stir in cayenne and ginger. Add carrots and saute 3 minutes.

Mix in potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes until veggies are tender.

Puree in blender or in the pan with immersion blender. Return to pan and add peanut butter.

Once blended test for salt and sweetness.  You can add sugar/agave/honey if you like.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Canning Thick Tomato Sauce QUICK

Canning tomatoes is no simple task. Below is the way to get the thickest tomato product with the least amount of cooking. Why go thick?  Well, you can always add water later when you cook with it, you need less jars (which cost money) and you need less shelf space for all those jars.

Start with fresh tomatoes that you rinse well in your sink.

 Remove any green stems that you have and cut into bite sized chunks. No need to peel and core when using a food strainer!

They must be bite sized to fit in the Squeezo, Victorio, or other food mill you are using.

You can cut the tops off and have your kids sqeeze the tomatoes over a bucket expressinging water and seeds before cutting if you are so inclined.  They love it!

 Place the cut pieces into a colander over a bucket or pot while you process more.  This lets the water drain.

You can see the drained juices after lifting the colander here.

Process the tomatoes through your food mill.  This is the Victorio. I love it!  It has made processing so much faster.
Tomatoes in the top, paste out the bottom seeds and skins out the side.

No more boiling, icing, peeling and cooking off excess water collected during the peeling process!  Just tomato sauce with no coring or peeling! It's $57.00 on Amazon.

Only fill the top half full to make feeding the Victorio easier. Switch arms on the crank or have you kids take turns.

Avoid food strainers that suction down.  Get one that screws to your counter top.

At this point you can add them to the pot, however I use a sieve that sits over a large baking dish to strain even MORE water out.  Some of you will argue that you want to cook that goodness down, and I feel you, but this gets me thick paste that I simply heat and process.

You can see it reducing here.  You can can the water as tomato juice for drinking, feed to livestock, toss it, cook it down for soup....

Keep adding your batches to your nonreactive pot as you process that day.  Stir as you go to keep the bottom from burning. After getting all you batches into the pot you are hot and ready to process in a water bath.

I add lemon 1T lemon juice to the bottom of my sterilized jars before filling and water bathing. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

How to trellis tomatoes...

Staking tomatoes is not necessary if you are canning and don't care what the tomatoes look like.  Staking does allow for adequate air circulation and ease of harvest.  In addition, you can cut limbs off for less cumbersome plants and by having fewer limbs devote the plants energy to the production of BIGGER fruit!

Place stakes with two plants in between.

How far apart to stake tomatoes? Every two plants.
Any further apart and the string will droop and not support the plants!
Tomatoes with staking and twine for support

Weave string in and out of plants as they grow.

I like to tie the string off between each set of stakes BECAUSE if a string breaks only a small portion of the tomatoes need line repair.

Resist the urge to run long runs of twine down several sets of stakes to avoid a lot of work later!
GMO-free tomato clips

You can use sisal twine, but if you are using overhead water, chances are it will break before the season is over.  If you are using drip you will be fine.

Last year I used clothesline which never broke and I bit the bullet and bought tomato clips.  I love the tomato clips and you can get them on biodegradable made from non-GMO corn if you don't want the work of removing them.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Planting Schedule

This was a planting schedule for vegetables I picked up a few years ago.  I thought it was a great visual for the basics and very useful.

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