Author Archives: Anna Paige

How to Make the Best Cream Cheese in the World

cream cheese cover

When it comes to cream cheese, there’s nothing like the homemade kind. It is more delicious than even the most popular store brand. The superb flavor of homemade cream cheese comes from quality ingredients.

Did you know that when you make cream cheese at home using a recipe that calls for cheese cultures, you can even tweak the flavor to suit your taste? Make it mild or aromatic (and slightly sharper) — it’s entirely up to you!  The flavor just depends on which of the recommended cheese cultures you choose. Continue reading

Sun Dried Crispy Italian-Flavored Tomato Chips

crispy tomato chipsSolavore in actionNow you can use the power of the sun to dehydrate your favorite foods! Our Solavore Sport solar oven works beautifully as a dehydrator.

With the Solavore Sport, it’s very easy to make a crispy tomato chip that has the perfect amount of flavor and crunch! These chips make a great snack all by themselves. Or, you can use them as a delicious addition to other foods.

Crispy Italian-flavored tomatoes, beets, and sweet potatoes

Crispy Italian-flavored tomatoes, beets, and sweet potatoes dehydrated in the Solavore Sport

burgerCrumbled tomato chips add zing as a tasty topping for casseroles, like macaroni and cheese. Or, you can use them as condiment at the table to sprinkle over a baked potato, a bowl of soup, or any other favorite foods. Crispy tomato chips are simply sensational on grilled cheeseburgers. Simply add a couple of slices on top of the cheese while it’s melting to take your burger from “everyday” to “gourmet.”

 

Sun Dried Crispy Italian-Flavored Tomato Chips

5 minutes

Sun Dried Crispy Italian-Flavored Tomato Chips

Ingredients

  • Garden fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup organic, virgin coconut oil
  • Italian Seasoning (see Note below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
  • Aluminum foil or wax paper

Instructions

  1. Slice garden fresh tomatoes about 1/4" thick and place them in a large bowl.
  2. Gently warm coconut oil, just until it becomes a clear liquid.
  3. Pour coconut oil over the tomato slices a little at a time, and toss gently. Add more coconut oil until all the slices are lightly coated with oil. (The coconut oil helps the seasonings adhere to the tomatoes.)
  4. Carefully line the bottom of your Solavore oven with foil or wax paper. (This keeps the dehydrated tomato slices from sticking.)
  5. Place individual tomato slices on the foil in a single layer. Leave a little space between the slices for the air to circulate.
  6. Sprinkle the tomato slices with Italian Seasoning to taste. If desired, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Place the Solavore oven in the sun. Prop the top of the cover open with a small piece of wood to create a narrow opening that will allow the humidity that forms inside the oven during the dehydration process to escape.
  8. Leave the Solavore in the sun for approximately 4 hours, or until the desired level of crispiness is achieved. (Dehydrating times will vary depending on the amount of sunlight and other environmental conditions.)
  9. If the tomato slices are still leathery after 4 hours, just leave them in the sun longer...unless you prefer tomato leather.

Note: You can use any commercial brand of Italian Seasoning, or make your own using the recipe below. Alternatively, substitute your favorite combination of herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, basil, etc.

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http://www.homesteadersupply.com/blog/2016/07/sun-dried-crispy-italian-tomato-chips.html

Homemade Italian Seasoning

Ingredients

1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried sage

Directions

Italian seasoningPlace all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Use immediately, or transfer into an airtight container and store for future use.

Yield: About 5 tsp.

 

 

© 2016 www.HomesteaderSupply.com

Book Spotlight: Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening

indoor salad gardening book

Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening: How to Grow Nutrient-Dense, Soil-Sprouted Greens in Less Than 10 Days by Peter Burke

Published in 2015, 192 pages

Get ready for a low-tech, no grow-lights approach to an abundant harvest of microgreens!

This book shows how you can grow all the fresh salad greens you need for the winter months (or throughout the entire year) with no lights, no pumps, and no greenhouse. All you need is a cupboard and a windowsill.

Longtime gardener Peter Burke was tired of the growing season ending with the first frost. Due to his busy work schedule and family life, he didn’t have the time or desire to bother with high-input grow lights or greenhouses. Most techniques for growing what are commonly referred to as microgreens left him feeling overwhelmed and uninterested. So, he set out to find a simpler way to grow salad greens for his family indoors.

After some research and diligent experimentation, Burke discovered that not only was it possible to grow nutrient-packed microgreens indoors, but it was easy, too! He didn’t even need a south-facing window. And he already had most of the necessary supplies sitting in his pantry. His result: healthy, homegrown microgreens at a fraction of the cost of buying them at the market. His secret: starting them in the dark!

Burke refers to sprouted seeds grown in soil as opposed to jars as “soil sprouts.” His method encourages a long stem without expansive roots, and provides delicious salad greens in just seven to ten days–much earlier, and with a lot less work, than any other growing method. Indeed, of all the ways of growing immature greens, Burke’s is the easiest and most productive technique.

So, forget about grow lights and heat lamps! This book is a revolutionary and inviting guide for both first-time and experienced gardeners in rural or urban environments. All you need is a windowsill or two. In fact, Burke has grown up to six pounds of greens per day using just the windowsills in his kitchen!

Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening offers detailed, step-by-step instructions to mastering this method. It’s so easy, it’s impossible to fail! This book tells you what supplies you need to have on hand, including tools and accessories, seeds and greens varieties, soil and compost, trays and planters, and shelving. It also covers harvest and storage, recipes, scaling up to serve local markets, and much more.

Q&A: What is early cheese blowing?

Gail asked  My cheddar cheese looked just fine while I was making it. But later, when it came out of the Ultimate Cheese Press, it looked like a sponge with lots of holes throughout. Why did this happen? And is this cheese safe to eat?

Early Cheese Blowing

Example of early cheese blowing

Jerri’s answer  This is called early cheese blowing. There are two reasons why it can happen.

One possible cause is coliform bacteria contamination. These pathogens can infect milk when sanitary conditions get compromised during milking or milk processing. You don’t want to risk getting sick, so THROW OUT THE CHEESE!

The second possibility is yeast contamination, which is most likely to happen when you’re baking fresh breads and making cheese in the kitchen at the same time. Again, I recommend you THROW OUT THE CHEESE!

The latter situation is easier to remedy. If you’re baking yeast breads while making cheese, add your lactic culture to the milk when it’s still cold, just prior to the first heating to start making cheese. This way, the lactic cheese culture will grow faster during the initial heating of the milk. If any yeast does get into the milk, it won’t be able to grow and ruin your cheese.

Q&A: Why won’t my mozzarella cheese stretch?

A customer asked Help! My mozzarella cheese won’t stretch!

Stretching Mozzarella Cheese

Stretching mozzarella

Jerri’s answer Acidity is the key for the stretch in mozzarella. Not enough or too much acid will result in hard curd floating or disintegrating in the water. The pH of your slab needs to be between 5.0 and 5.2 for it to stretch well when kneaded in hot water.

And the ripening of your slab is very dependent upon the weather. It can over-ripen in hot weather, or under-ripen in colder weather. One trick to standardize your mozzarella making year round is to ripen your slabs in the refrigerator for 16 hours.

Would you like to try making mozzarella the old fashioned way at home? Our REAL Italian Mozzarella Kit makes cheese with authentic Old World flavor. The mesophilic and thermophilic cheese cultures we use to make our mozzarella are imported directly from Italy.

Mozzarella Cheese Making Kit

Q&A: Cheddar cheese came out dry and brittle. Why?

A customer asked:  I followed the recipe perfectly, but my cheddar cheese came out dry, and it has a brittle texture. What did I do wrong?

Cheese Culture Sampler Kit

Cheese Culture Sampler Kit

Jerri’s answer:  There are three possibilities:

  1. You might have inadvertently added too much starter culture. Excess starter culture can lower the pH below the desired level. This higher acidity can dry out your cheese. Remember, always use the correct dose of starter culture. Don’t think that if a little is good, then more is better. This is not true for cheesemaking!
  2. The cooking time directions weren’t followed properly. If the recipe says to raise the temperature 1 degree every 5 to 7 minutes, don’t try to speed up the process so you can finish sooner. Always follow your recipe exactly as written.
  3. Stirring too vigorously during the early stages of cheesemaking (before the curds are properly formed) causes too much whey to be released. This results in a curd that’s drier than normal. So, take your time, be gentle, listen to calming music… Do whatever it takes to allow yourself to relax and enjoy the cheesemaking process. And always follow the recipe directions exactly.