Week 37, 2020|Kristin Kimball |September 11, 2020

The cold mornings have shoved me hard into food preservation mode. This week, I had a leftover flat of paste tomatoes to turn into sauce. My tomato method changes according to my ambition, sometimes midstream. I was intending to can it, even hauled out the giant pressure canner, but ambition always shrivels as the day progresses. Midway through I was overwhelmed by remote school, cheesemaking, hay questions, and google meets. Pivot! I froze it in pints instead. It’s about half as convenient to store and use as canned — takes up a lot of storage space in the chest freezer and requires forethought to thaw it ahead of time — but far better than collapsing onto the kitchen floor or dumping the pot of sauce out the back door. I also chopped, bagged and froze more celery, and froze a big bag of basil, because basil is the first herb to succumb to cold. I need to make progress on the greens this week. Kale, chard and collards are popular at our house, so I know they will get used. You should blanch for three minutes, then chill in ice water before freezing, but you can freeze without blanching, especially if you intend to use them fairly soon. The quality won’t be quite as good, but infinitely better than not having greens in the freezer. 

Jane’s goats have lured me back into cheesemaking, cranking out a pound or two of chevre most days. Astoundingly, between giving it away and eating it, our family’s consumption is keeping up with her two-goat supply. Cheesemaking hits me square in my sweet spot, midway between science and magic. I still can’t believe we can turn leaves, grass and weeds into something as delicious as cheese. We don’t have enough goat milk for everyone, but if you want to try cheesemaking with our cow’s milk, you could start with something very simple, like panir, which requires no special ingredients or fancy equipment. Bring a half gallon of milk to a boil, stirring to prevent scorching. Turn the heat down to low, and add about a quarter cup of lemon juice. The acid, combined with the heat, will immediately separate the solid curd from the liquid whey. Cook on low for a few seconds, stirring gently, until the curd begins to stick together and the whey is a clear yellow, not white. Turn off the heat, and let it sit for about ten minutes, then ladle the curds into cheesecloth or a piece of muslin. Hang or press with a weight for a couple hours, and that’s panir. It doesn’t have much flavor on its own but will take on any you cook it with and it won’t melt, so you can cut it into cubes and pan fry it to use in something like saag panir. If, after this, you are ready to dive deeper into home cheesemaking and want to invest in cultures, renet and molds, New England Cheesemaking Supply is a good site to explore. They offer beginner kits and tutorials. You want to go even deeper? We are loyal to Glengarry Cheesemaking and their knowledgeable staff. 

Fast facts: Got some nice second cut hay in. Cover crops look stunning. Fall veg too. We have had a bunch of new piglets born this week, doing well. We lost one of our new little dairy calves, who had a fatal birth defect. Big thanks to all the members who have returned jars and lids every week. This is so helpful, as the Ball jar shortage continues. Please don’t use the farm’s glass for canning or anything else. We need every jar. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this back-to-school 37th week of 2020. Find us on instagram at essexfarmcsa, kristinxkimball and farmerkimball, on the web, by email at essexfarm@gmail.com or on the farm from a distance, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball