Solar Cheese

willow the goat kidThe first of our two goats kidded on 2nd April, meaning we again have more milk then we can consume fresh or as yoghurt. The other thing we have in excess is electricity, having finally completed the installation of our 2KW Solar PV off grid system.

6 panels on the south to south east facing solar shed
6 panels on the south to south east facing solar shed

I decided to combine the two excesses and use only home produced power to make my first cheese of the season, hence a Solar Cheese.

My favorite cheese to make is Halloumi. It is a very forgiving cheese, so ideal when trying a bit of experimentation, and always a hit with the children (most important!).

I used a slow cooker to pasteurize the milk, warm it to the correct temperature for renneting and for cooking the curd. I usually use a water bath (double boiler) on a gas ring – this ensures even heating and avoid scalding of the milk as might occur if the gas flame was used to heat the milk pot directly. The slow cooker was an excellent substitute, giving slow controlled heating with no scalding and requiring very little attention apart from the odd stir and temperature check.

....and 3 more on the south to south west facing roof of our house
….and 3 more on the south to south west facing roof of our house

After draining and pressing, the cheese is cut into 1/2″ thick slices and soaked for an hour in whey which has been heated to 190F. It is this stage that is unusual and gives Halloumi it’s unique property, namely that it does not melt when fried.

I used a microwave to heat the whey at this stage, as slow gentle heating was not necessary. Yes, a microwave! I know people have mixed feelings about them, however they can be a very energy-efficient way to heat food and it is another way that we can use our solar produced energy to cook, so avoiding non-renewable fuels. The 8 minutes it took to heat the whey to the correct temperature used as much energy as about 1 hour of cooking in one of our slow cookers, but of course did it in a fraction of the time.

Once the cheese is removed from the whey, it is dried and salted. It is left for at least a day before eating to allow the salt to penetrate the cheese, although it can be hard to wait.

The final stage will be to fry up slices in a pan heated on our electric camping ring, then we can have delicious Solar Cheese for lunch!

We need to be imaginative when looking for ways to use our solar electricity, as we do not have enough power to run many standard electrical appliances eg a standard electric cooker. However, it is very satisfying to use it to replace fossil fuels that we would otherwise have burnt.

2 thoughts on “Solar Cheese

  1. Brilliant! I have never made halloumi but it makes excellent use of the solar power and very inventive to use the slow cooker!

    1. Halloumi is the favourite in our house. I was pretty pleased with the slow cooker I must say. Might need a bigger one when the next goat kids though……

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