I’m working on a batch of curing meat that’s “done” today and have been doing a bunch of reading on a controversial topic: nitrates. I’m also fielding questions about whether or not we use them, with folks making the assumption that no nitrates = healthier.
I have cured with curing salt (pink salt/nitrate salt) and without. I have to tell you that the pieces cured with the pink salt have more flavor depth and a familiar reddish color. Depending on what flavor you are after, the pink salt imparts a more familiar bacon flavor, while not using it results in a more dry cured, salumi flavor. Mark likes salumi. I like bacon.
The other thing the pink salt does for the meat is prevent botulism. Botulism is a very deadly and undetectable bacteria. The conditions for curing meat are also perfect for growing bacteria, mold, and fungus. While we can see and deal with the rest, botulism spores are undetectable. Botulism contamination is not common, but it doesn’t have to be to make an ounce of prevention worth the ton of cure (if any).
So, to help explain my thinking on the nitrate issue, this article by Michael Ruhlman provides a good explanation about the marketing gimmick that is “nitrate free,” or “uncured” meat. If our products say “nitrate free” you’ll notice a color and flavor difference–because I really didn’t use any form of nitrate in it. But you’ll also notice a flavor difference. I hope Michael can help you sort out the controversy and understand the marketing language used on “natural” products.
This time of year is lovely for cooling things off. I love using the great outdoor cooler to cool things, and even freeze things if left long enough. And all for free! It’s a definite silver lining on the cloud of winter.
And then there are the times when you want things cool, but when it’s -10 degrees they just naturally freeze. Quickly.
So, what does one do if that happens to your raw milk? Homogenized milk will thaw and be as good as new. Raw milk, though, tends to thaw into liquid and clumpy cream. Do not despair!! Simply pour your thawed, clumpy milk through a cheesecloth to strain the cream chunks out. You’ll send up with something that’s about like 2% milk and some really good, super heavy cream. The cream is good in coffee, hot chocolate, as a bread spread. Sometimes it’s thicker than other times, but you’ll still have useable product and your milk will still be wonderfully fresh.
In that vein, we now offer some special services to our dairy herd share folks. IF you own a share of the dairy herd, the farmer’s wife, Brenda is willing to separate it for you and send just the cream, or to separate it and then churn it into butter. The butter can be salted or unsalted. The salt she uses is the colorful raw sea salt. I use that salt when I make our butter and it gives the butter a whole new dimension of flavor. You can order the service for your regular share by ordering a quantity for the month, or you can order it as a “provisional share.” A provisional share would be a temporary or transient one just for the one time. You must be a herd share owner to get an extra share and it’s based on the herd having extra milk available.
Note that all dairy orders have to be in by Friday noon for delivery the following Friday.
**Official notice: Cream and butter are not being sold. The milk belongs to the herd share owner and the farmer is offering a SERVICE. The milk is the private property of the herd share owner and they are engaged in a private agreement with the farmer.**
We also have burger available in bulk. It’s available as a 1/16 of a beef, which equates to about 20#. You can order through the farmmatch button on the right side of the page. This burger is from the beef raised by our organic dairy farmers, Joe and Brenda. A cow has to have a calf in order to “freshen” her milk supply, and this beef is that calf. The burger is lean as that’s how dairy cattle go, but flavorful. The beef cows are grazed on fresh pastures in season and eat Joe’s organic hay during these snowy months. This is a Farm Exchange advantage product.
If you are interested in a herd share or Farm Exchange buyer’s club membership, you can order it online to the right. Contact us if you have any questions!
One of my projects for the holiday week was to make the schedule of classes for the Anyone Can Farm program. We’re excited about the program and the options this year. The courses start off in February with the High Bionutrient Crop Production Course. It’ll be an intense two days of information with Dan Kitteredge. If the introductory session was any indication, we’ll all get an education in soil, plants, seeds, our health, and all the complex interactions that go into building a strong biosystem. Dan has an interactive style of teaching, so come prepared with your questions. Participants with mineral analyzed soil samples will also be able to get solid feedback on on how use and improve your growing areas. You can find more information about this fabulous course at the Anyone Can Farm website.
Here’s the crew and how we ended the year:
May your new year be blessed with good things (and bacon!).