Monday, October 24, 2011


Each week during the afternoon work time a group of volunteers is assigned to “transformations.”  This week we were lucky enough to be a part of this process for a number of products from the farm: coffee, peanuts, cheese, chocolate and tumeric.  Here are a few little notes about the process for each food and some photos:

First the beans are removed from the coffee fruit and dried for many days. (I think over a week but I can't remember if that is for coffee or cacao.)
Harper and Cal help remove the coffee beans from the solar drier shelves.
Next the beans are picked thorugh to remove the old ones.  The beans that are cracked and dusty don't get roasted.  
Laura finished picking through the coffee beans
Next we put the beans through a lose grinder to remove the skins.  The grinder was on a bike and I took a spin on the bike to separate the light papery skins from the heavier beans.  After this Oscar shook the bowl and blew into it so that the skins sailed into the air and the beans remained in the bowl.  I wish I got a picture of this step.  It was beautiful watching all the dusty skins flying around in the sunlight.

The beans were roasted in a clay pot over the fire and at the end of the roasting sugar is added to caramelize them a bit.

Anya roasts the coffee beans over the fire until they are richly browned.

A small scoop of sugar is added to the coffee beans.
Next to the grinder and then COFFEE!  Yum. Yum.

Laura and Anya grind the beans.
The smell is so strong!

First they were dried and roasted.  Next we had to remove all the blackened skins.  And presto! Peanuts!
Harper picks through the roasted peanuts for a snack.

The remenants of the peanut skins on the table after Harper, Cal and rubbed them all off. 

Starting with 2 liters of fresh cow milk we added lemon juice, salt, and the cultures.  Paul mixed it in and we waited 15 minutes for "the blob"to form.

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Next we broke up "the blob"with our hands.  The curds and the whey separated.

We pushed all the curds to one side to make a big mass of cheese.
Cal salts the cheese.
Next we moved the cheese to the bowl and salted it.  Ecuadorians heavy salt their cheese (we found this out after ordering an inedible cheese sandwich in Canoa!) so we had to convince the señoras to let the kids stop salting it after a couple pinches.

Harper has a turn adding salt.
Last the cheese is moved to a form to remove the rest of the whey.
A big rock weighs the cheese down to press out the last bit of whey and form its shape. 
And finally we all had a taste!  The cheese was really mild in flavor.  You could still taste a bit of lemon and the salt.  It wasn't all that dense; tt was more spongy in texture and not very creamy.  It tasted really good!  To our surprise, Harper even tried it but she didn't like it much.  Later that night it was served in our garlicky noodles and she unknowingly ate it up!

Tumeric and Ginger-
No photos but the root is harvested and then chopped into small slices.  Harper loved the tumeric transformation because she could dye her fingers and face with its gold juice!  After chopping it is moved to the solar drier.  Last it is ground into a powder.  Easy-peasy.

Going through each step has definitely deepened my appreciation of these foods.  I’m glad to have a little more knowledge about their transformation process from fruit, root, cows milk or legume into the common foods we take for granted at home.  Making cheese is something I have been interested in trying for a while now I will definitely try it back at my house.  I can’t wait to get some raw milk from Sustainable Settings and the cultures from the Cheese Lady (my book club knows the reference) and make some mozzerella! 

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