Goat’s milk. It’s what dreams are made of. It’s everything I dreamed of when we started raising goats almost two years ago. Well, that and lots and lots of cuddles. And goat kids. Really, goats are just the best. But the reason why we started raising goats is for goat milk and goat’s milk products. About a month ago we finished drinking our last gallon of store bought milk and started milking our first freshener does, Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. More on the joys of milking goats later. But ever since then, our fridge has been full of delicious goat’s milk. Once we started getting milk in larger quantities, our eyes widened with all the possibilities of what we can do with goat’s milk. Homemade greek yogurt, homemade ice cream, soap, butter, and cheese! In fact, I started a pinterest board dedicated to goat’s milk products and recipes. Honestly, I’ve been practically standing on my milk stand, preaching the benefits of goat’s milk to anyone who will listen. But let’s get right down to it. Today we’re talking about reason #459 why farming is awesome. And that’s cheese. Delicious, creamy, farmmade raw goat cheese (also known as chevre).
I made our first batch of chevre over the busy holiday weekend and couldn’t believe how easy it was. To make homemade chevre, all you need is a gallon of goat’s milk, chevre culture and cheesecloth/butter muslin. We used our own raw goat’s milk because it has more beneficial bacteria (and flavor) than pasteurized goat’s milk but you can use pasteurized milk as well. You can get chevre culture from a number of online cheesemaking sites and sources. Once you have those two essential items all you need is cheesecloth, time and patience. The later is seriously the most difficult part of the whole process.
First, pour your gallon of goat’s milk into a large pot. I used our LeCreuset dutch oven and it worked perfectly for cheesemaking. Warm the milk to 86 degrees. Remove from heat and sprinkle the culture on the surface of the milk. Let the culture sit on top of the milk for about two minutes. This gives a chance for the culture to rehydrate (similar to mixing water/sugar/yeast together in bread baking). After about two minutes, whisk the culture and milk mixture together.
Then, cover the pot and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 12-20 hours. While you wait, you will go insane. I recommend distracting yourself by making some pickles, catching up on laundry, or a Star Wars marathon. After 12 hours or so (depending on the temperature of your house), open the lid of your pot and you’ll see a spongey layer of white curds floating on top of a cloudy-yellowish water whey. I guess this is what Ms. Muffet was all about. The curds should be nice and firm. If they’re not, put the lid back on and check back in a few hours. We let ours sit for 12 hours on the dot.
Once the curds are set, grab a slotted spoon and ladle them into a colander lined with a fine cheesecloth. Then, gather the ends of the cheesecloth and hang it over a bowl. We tied the cheesecloth to a cabinet handle and it worked out great. Now, let it hang and drip for another 6-12 hours. Yes. More waiting. If someone wants to come over and “help you make cheese” then they are going to be sorely disappointed. It only takes three steps but those steps are about 12 hours apart. But if you don’t have someone helping you out and they marvel at the fact that you made your cheese out of nothing but milk and bacteria, you could pretend that you’re some sort of magical food scientist mastermind.
Now, once you have the curds in the cheesecloth, you’re left with whey. And yes, it looks a little disgusting but there’s a lot you can do with it! It’s full of great natural enzymes that are very beneficial. The Prairie Homestead shows us 16 ways to use whey including using it as a substitute for water in baking, in soups and stews, homemade smoothies, feeding it to animals and many other uses. We froze our leftover whey in freezer bags for later use.
After the chevre has hung in the cheesecloth for 6-12 hours, spoon it out and into cheese molds, tupperware, ramekins, or whatever you want to form it in. Your mouth? Maybe? At this point, you can add flavors such as dried herbs from the garden, paprika, even dried fruit. Let it chill in the fridge then enjoy your homemade chevre goat cheese! If one batch is too much for you to handle at a time (around here, this batch will last about 30 minutes until it’s devoured), then you can freeze it and it will keep about six months.
And just like that, you have fresh homemade chevre goat cheese made from your own hand milked raw goat’s milk. Mind = blown. And that’s reason #459 why farming is awesome. You have just become a cheese god among mere food mortals.