“Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.”― Professor Lidenbrock
Discount Milk, Failure, and Lessons Learned
I’ve never been one for carefully planning projects and this one has been no exception. The initial result of my gung-ho attitude is typically failure. However, there are advantages to starting my projects without really knowing what I’m doing. I learn faster and I’m less paralyzed by uncertainty. It makes clear very quickly which tools and skills I actually need and which are bonuses.
Haggling at the grocery store
As I mentioned in the first post of this series, I was considering haggling for milk nearing its expiration date if my surplus store didn’t come through. Yesterday, after leaving the surplus store empty handed yet again, I decided to try to persuade some store managers to part with their expiring product.
Fortunately, it turned out to be shockingly easy. Unfortunately, I have no thrilling tale with tense negotiations and threats of walking.
I ended up going to two stores. At the first, I picked up the two glass bottles of unhomogenized milk. Both bottles were due to expire on the 6th but considering there were only two, I figured that the store wouldn’t be willing to budge on price. Five minutes after finding a manager I was walking out of the store with a gallon of milk for 20% of sticker price. Initially the manager had offered 50%, I asked for an additional 30% and she immediately agreed.
The second store was only slightly more challenging. It was a large chain store, so in order to talk to the manager I had to get through an employee first. After explaining what I was after, he told me “we don’t do that here.” I love haggling, so I’ve heard this a lot. Often it’s because the employee has never dealt with a customer interested in haggling. I asked him if he would be willing to do me a favor and ask his manager anyway. He pointed me towards his manager and walked off.
The manager was clearly interested. We walked over to the dairy section so I could show him how much of his milk supply was nearing expiration. The previous manager had quickly agreed to the price I asked, so I figured stores were more eager to offload surplus milk than I had thought. He accepted my first offer and walked me over to a register to adjust the price. In the end I went home with 6 gallons of organic milk for $18.50. Enough to make ~4lbs of cheese.
Mistakes made and lessons learned
Feeling under the gun because of the soon to expire milk, I made the decision to start the cheese that night. I hadn’t yet figured where I would age it and how I would mold/press it. I figured I would work that out as I went along. Here are the only real problems I encountered:
- I needed a smaller springform pan to use as a mold
- The pieces of cheese cloth I had were too small
And the problems I solved:
- Aging the cheese: The poorly insulated closet I used to hate
- Even heating: Sink full of hot water
- Molding the cheese: Smaller springform pan
- Food safe wood surface for aging: Bamboo steamer
In fact, I learned so much that I’m making another attempt as I write this. Right now I have another few pounds of curds draining and about to go into a small springform pan I bought today.
Until next time!