As my first blog I’ll keep it nice and simple. My name is Hattie Ryan and cheese is going to be my mission for the rest of my time in Panama.
The Animal Science interns and our lovely director, Kylie Bechdolt, took the hike out of the valley to pick up some fresh little egg laying chicks in 24. As we sat at one of la fondas in San Miguel for breakfast, sweating and red faced from the hike out of the valley, a woman was going from customer to customer selling what to me was a mysterious block wrapped in plastic. $1.50 later the block turned out to be ‘queso blanco’, a very plain and white, salty, spongy cheese locally made in Panama and in many other countries, including Mexico. I have decided to take my internship in the direction of cheesemaking to discover the art of queso blanco through our dairy farming neighbors and cheese makers near the valley. My goal is to make queso blanco for the valley crew at least a few times by the end of the semester. Connecting with and learning from the local community will help Kalu Yala expand and I also hope to improve my Spanish un poquito.
There are cheese making kits available at farming stores that are relatively inexpensive and I have looked up some varying processes on the internet. My plan is to immediately visit a cheese making farm close by the valley to study the way they make cheese and combine that knowledge with a kit.
According to a Dutch man who runs a farm near the Cerro Hoya Mountain Range and right on the Eastern Tropical Pacfic ocean, about 1.3 liters can make one queso blanco chunck.
If anyone is interested follow the link to visit the farm for only $5 a night with available use of their ranchos and cooking equipment. Great deal!
Also, last stint the Animal Science group painted the chicken coop and a mural to spruce up the space! Above is the picture of our mural.