gwen petersen
Big timber, mont.

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March 31, 2014
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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow's Ear 3-31-14

Ever thought about cheese? How it’s made, who invented the recipes, what is the country of origin, how does cheese get to be hard, soft, spongy, white, yellow, orange? If we had no cheese, what word would photographers use to make folks smile? What would we put on crackers? What would macaroni do without cheese? It’s claimed there are around 900 cheeses in the world. I’d wager there’s more. Should the government study the varieties, count ’em; make sure none are on the endangered species list?

Longhorn cheese is a style of American Colby cheese defined by its round, long, orange cylindrical shape. Invented in Colby, Wisc., it’s also called Colby Longhorn. It’s orange in color. Sort of.

The term “longhorn” has nothing to do with those longhorn bovine critters brought up the trail from Texas in the 1800s. The expression refers to the size and shape that commercial cheese comes in — a long cylindrical block.

On behalf of those who piously yearn to be self-sufficient, I give you:

How to make your very own

Longhorn Cheese

(This is an actual and factual recipe that your Granny and mine likely knew how to make).

1-1/2 gallon Thick clabbered* milk

4 Tbsps. Fresh butter

3/4 t. Soda

2/3 c. Thick sour cream

1-1/4 t. Salt

1/4 t. Butter colorant

Be sure to have raw milk. (you may need to buy a milk cow or at least go to a dairy and obtain the milk fresh from a cow’s faucet). Place milk on stove (probably best to put it in a pan first) and cook for half an hour (low heat!) stirring frequently to separate the curds* from the whey.* At the end of cooking, the curds will be very tough. (If not tough, cook some more). Drain off the whey and press curds under a heavy weight (like an old sadiron* or a few bricks or an Oxford English Dictionary) until the whey is all pressed out and the curd is dry. Failure to do this will result in a poorly finished product — and of course, you don’t want that!

Add fresh butter (naturally, you have churned the butter from your very own butter churn) and soda to dry curd. Chop until curd is quite fine and ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Press mixture down into a bowl and let stand in a warm place for 2-1/2 hours.

Then put the stuff into a double boiler with the sour cream, salt and coloring. As it begins to heat, stir until all ingredients melt into a mass. Then pour said mass into a well-greased bowl and allow to cool. It is ready to eat as soon as it is cold.

To cure* the cheese, remove it from the bowl when cool and cover the whole surface with melted paraffin and store in a cool place. This recipe makes about 1-1/2 pounds of cheese.

Now, aren’t you proud? You’ve used up four or five hours making cheese (more if you had to go buy a cow, milk her, then churn the butter before commencing on cheese making).

Question: Wouldn’t it be less time consuming and a bunch less expensive just to go to the grocery store and buy a chunk of cheese? (I’d wager our Grannies would agree!)

* Curd: What happens when milk is set on warm spot for long time. The milk breaks up into coagulated blobs.

* Clabbered: What the blobs are — i.e, curdled.

* Whey: The liquid in which the curds swim. Partner whey with curds and you have what Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating. (See Mother Goose).

* Sadiron: Old fashioned flatiron with a removable handle. Before electricity, one could heat up a sadiron the cook stove. Sadirons were heavy buggers. If the heat didn’t smooth the wrinkles, the weight alone smashed them flat.

* Cure: To prepare the cheese with a paraffin coating so it can be stored. ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Mar 27, 2014 01:47PM Published Apr 14, 2014 02:00PM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.