People think of goat cheese, called Chèvre, as a fancy cheese reserved only for special occasions, but this versatile cheese is just as at home at a holiday party on a fancy platter as it is on a plate with crackers in front of the TV on a Thursday night. Goat cheese is very versatile; use it on everything from crackers to salads, take it to family or office get-together, or add it to just about any sandwich or even fruit!
Goat cheese is probably one of the easiest cheeses to make. Cheese making can seem very intimidating at first, (and certain cheeses are difficult to make) but this particular cheese isn't difficult at all.
Things You Will Need:
1 Gallon of Goat Milk Stainless Steel Pot Kitchen Scale optional
Thermometer Cheese Cloth Wax Paper
Stainless Steel Slotted Spoon Rennet Salt
Stainless Steel Measuring Cups Mesophilic Culture (MM100)
Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons
Slotted spoon, stainless measuring cups and spoons, thermometer, cheese cloth, rennet and culture. (We order our rennet and culture from cheesemaking.com) Different cultures make different types of cheese, so keep that in mind when ordering supplies. The culture pictured above is what was used in this recipe)
Goat milk can be obtained from your local farmer (ensure they have disease tested herd) or from a local grocery store. It can be pasteurized or raw, just be sure NOT to use ultra-pasteurized milk. We prefer using milk from our herd of goats as we know exactly what our goats have been eating and how they have been raised and cared for.
Let's get started! Begin by adding water to your stainless steel pot and boil all of your measuring cups, measuring spoons, thermometer and your slotted spoon. Once they have boiled for a couple of minutes, use your slotted spoon to retrieve the items (don't drain the water out, you need it for the next step!) and carefully place them on a freshly laundered towel or some clean paper towels. Do not touch them as you want them to remain as sterile as possible, and they are also really hot!
Stop up one side of your sink and pour the hot water into it. Do not touch the inside of the pot.
These next few steps need to happen pretty quickly, so be sure you have all of your supplies ready to go. You don't want to scald that precious milk and ruin your cheese while you frantically search for a needed item.
Pour your milk into the pot and place the entire pot into the sink where you poured the boiling water. It'll act as a double boiler and help to warm the milk without the increased risk of scalding if you were to use the stove top. Use your slotted spoon in an up and down motion to stir the milk. You can occasionally stir it as well, but you don't want any fast movements to occur. Utilizing the thermometer, you want to stop once the milk reaches 78 degrees. (Milk needs to reach a temperature of 80 degrees, but it'll continue to get just a bit warmer once you remove it from the hot water, so remove it from the water at 78 degrees) Remember, this will happen quickly!
Remove the pot of milk from the hot water and set on the stove or counter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of your mesophilic culture to the milk and again use your slotted spoon in an up and down motion to thoroughly mix in the culture. Next you will add 2 drops (yes that really says 2 drops) of rennet to a measuring cup with about a quarter cup of cold water in it. DO NOT ADD RENNET DIRECTLY TO YOUR MILK WITHOUT DISSOLVING IT FIRST IN WATER. After adding the rennet, again use your slotted spoon in an up and down motion to evenly distribute it in the milk. Cover the pot and let it sit undisturbed for 12 hours. The hardest part is the waiting!
After you've stared at the pot for 12 hours, it's time to drain the whey off of the curds! Using cheese cloth, carefully pour the contents of the pot into the cheese cloth. We like to use a stainless steel collander lined with cheese cloth and place the entire thing inside of a large bowl. Once everything has been poured through, tie up your cheese cloth and hang from a cabinet door with a bowl underneath to catch the whey. (We utilize the whey to make ricotta, you'll find the directions for that here) Leave the curds to drain for what will feel like an eternity (really just another 12 hours).
Once 12 hours has passed, cut down the cheese and open the cheesecloth over some wax paper. You'll use the backside of a clean spoon to spread the cheese out into an even layer. Once all spread out, sprinkle ONE TEASPOON of salt evenly over the cheese. Salt is very important to inactivating the culture. If you skip this step, your cheese will not taste good. Next you need to knead the salt into the cheese. I like to use the wax paper and fold it over the cheese so I don't touch the actual cheese. Work the salt in well. We weigh our cheese mostly out of curiosity to see how much cheese we acquired from a specific volume of milk. In this particular batch of cheese, we utilized 1.5 gallons of milk and ended up with just shy of 2 1/4 pounds of cheese!
We split our cheese up into half pound increments, wrap individually in wax paper and if we aren't using or selling it in the next day or so, we will place them into the freezer with the date they were made written on them. Cheese should last up to a couple months in the freezer.
And there you have it! How to make goat cheese! It's not a hard process, it just takes a bit of time. We usually start our cheese making in the morning so it can set all day and then drain overnight.
Happy cheese making and let us know if you make some yourself!
*Goat cheese made from raw milk is not pasteurized and should not be consumed by pregnant women*