Make your own dairy
"Making butter is so easy I don't know why we don't all do it," says Nick. In essence, it's a very simple process of agitating cream so that the butterfat and buttermilk separate. The end result will rely inherently on the quality of the raw ingredient used, which, in this case, is cream. For fun, the two race to finish their batch of butter, Nick using a handy kitchen tool, while Matthew struggles with a handheld churner.
On Bruny Island, Matthew learns how to make home-style cheese, ie sweet, milky, young cheese that must be eaten within days of being made. "The one thing you don't wanna do is get milk burnt to the bottom of the pan," warns Nick. "'Cause that flavours everything; you can't get rid of it." Nick uses freeze-dried bacteria and unhomogenised milk to produce a creamy result. Soft cheese is not heat-treated to the extent that hard cheeses are, leaving a "lovely, floral, lemony flavour."
Proving himself quite the dairy know-it-all, Nick assists Matthew in making yoghurt from scratch. "The thing about homemade yoghurt is that it's two things: easier than you think, and harder than you think," says Matthew. The process involves pure milk heated with a particular bacteria, which converts the lactose into lactose acid.
Sausages and curing
With a little help from his friend, Ross O'Meara, Matthew demonstrates how to make 100 per cent pork sausages, seasoned with freshly grated nutmeg, white pepper and salt. Keep in mind, fresh sausages such as these should be eaten within 3-4 days of making. If you don't have an electric mincer, simply hit up a garage sale in search of a hand-held device.
Bresaola is air-dried, salted beef that's been aged for up to three months. At this point, it becomes firm and dark red. When selecting a wine for this recipe, you want to use "any type of shiraz, something with a bit of body to it," says Ross. Bear in mind, you'll need a bucket and three metres of muslin cloth for this recipe.
"Really intense, salty fish roe is gorgeous," muses Matthew. Bottarga is salted, air-dried fish roe, originating from Sardinia and Sicily. Traditionally, it's sprinkled in small quantities over pasta. "What you're looking for is really fresh egg sacks," reckons Nick. The boys dry their roe for a week or two in a cool dry place, but you can leave it longer if you wish.
"It's tuna, but not as you know it," says Matthew. Preserving tuna is a great way to store fish that you can't eat in one go. The flesh of the fish is first boiled in salty water, then cooked for four hours. Word to the wise, though: "It smells awful, [so] you have to do this outside," he says. Word is it's rich, intense, and so much more satisfying than that supermarket stuff. Also, if you're after a sustainable option, opt for Albacore tuna.
Pickling fish has been practiced in Scandinavia, Japan, Korea and Northern Europe for centuries, as a great way to preserve excess fish for later. "The most important thing for pickling fish is to get a good-quality, white-fleshed fish and flavour it with some pickling spices," says Nick. His pick for flavouring is heaps of onions, garam masala, ginger and dried chilli. Once opened, store it in the fridge.
Pickled cabbage is similar to sauerkraut, yet much speedier to make. Instead of fermenting for months, this recipe sees Matthew prepare "salted cabbage that's allowed to ferment for four days." It's eaten as an accompaniment to meat dishes throughout Eastern Europe. "It's really quite mellow and wonderful to cut the richness of pork," he adds.
"The better quality the vinegar, the better quality the end product." In his home kitchen, Matthew prepares one of our absolute favourites – vinegar-preserved mushrooms. The first step is to boil the mushies in a lemony water, then drain and dry exceptionally well on paper towel. For his pickling liquid, Matthew uses a white wine vinegar. Be creative with your choice of aromatics, whether it's nutmeg, cloves, coriander seeds, or cumin seeds. Preserved mushrooms can be kept for a few months.
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