Mabon is a recent addition to the wheel of the year. Although the name comes from a Welsh God, there is evidence that this celebration was not originally Celtic. Mabon ap Modron and Modron were possibly deities from earlier legends. Mabon means “Great Son” and together this mother-son pair reflect similar aspects of the Demeter-Persephone myths and a time when the earth stops producing and rests.
In Canada, this time is generally three weeks before Thanksgiving celebrations and many of the themes are the same; gratefulness, sharing the bounty, preservation, endings.
Mabon foods include apples, grapes, hazelnuts, sage, grains, corn, red wine, mead, honey, wild fowl, squashes and late melons.
This spreadable cheese combines apples, hazelnuts, sage, oats and honey; and should be eaten within a few days. It is a thrill to once again have local hazelnuts as six years ago, 90% of the trees in this area had been destroyed by Eastern Filbert Blight.
If cheese making is new to you, please don’t let that stop you from giving this a go. This recipe is from my step-mother’s side of the family has only one ingredient, buttermilk. Super simple, here is the recipe. In this case, leave out all the herbs, make it plain and add the extra ingredients after the curds have dripped.
I made the plain cheese the night of an unexpected power outage. The cheese ended up in the fridge overnight and was therefore dry and crumbly in the morning. That was actually good news as I could add more apple sauce to the finished Mabon cheese.
You will need:
1 cup buttermilk cheese (packed)
2 – 3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. oat flour
1/4 cup applesauce
15 ish dried sage leaves (5 ish fresh ones if handy)
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, ground
Mabon and gratitude go hand in hand and really connecting with that heart opening feeling helps us to appreciate all our blessings. It is not always an easy connection as we can find it easier to focus on what is less than perfect rather than the good stuff that is. Take a moment or two or three and achknowledge gratefulness for the available foods, the skills to create magic in the kitchen, the connection to family and friends, the bounty of the season. Breathe deeply and just sit with a feeling of being, in so many ways, abundantly blessed. Begin.
Begin by preparing the hazelnuts. Place then on a tray, one nut deep and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 7 minutes or until the skins crack open. Transfer to a clean tea towel and rub the skins off the nuts. They don’t need to be completely clean. It is nice to have a little contrast in colours when the cheese is rolled in the nuts.Combine the rest of the ingredients with the buttermilk cheese. The applesauce will soften the cheese and the oat flour will absorb any extra moisture, balancing the texture. I happened to have a very tangy batch of applesauce so I suggest a little taste at this point while it is possible to adjust the sweetness balance to what you prefer. This cheese is going to sit in the fridge for several hours so the flavours can blend and the oats can absord, so expect slight changes when serving.
I use dried sage leaves so that the pieces are discernible in the finished cheese. Powdered sage is an option but if possible find larger pieces.
When combined, place the cheese (covered) in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This will make it easier to form the mixture for rolling in the nuts.
Grind the hazelnuts and lay out on a flat plate or parchment paper. Form a ball with the cheese or really any shape you would like and then roll in the hazelnuts. The picture below is of squared logs.
Return to the fridge until ten minutes before serving and plate with crackers, fruit or cookies ( Digestive or Lotus are good options). The nuts will soften and that is okay.There is also the traditional ball if you have a larger group.
Just under a quart of 3.25% buttermilk made all this cheese. I took out about 1/2 cup for my creamy mushrooms, also a Mabon option. Keep the whey and substitute for water or milk when baking. I also have a friend who cooks her porridge with whey. It is full of protein, probiotic bacteria (the good stuff) and calcium. If you had enough (many gallons at the same time), making Mozzarella would also be an option.
For now this Mabon cheese, celebrates the second harvest festival on the wheel of the year. Maybe add some fresh grapes, apple cider and enjoy a different kind of dessert.