What am I planning to construct soon with this odd collection of objects (plus a few other items not gathered yet, including some wood)? Boomer is a mere bystander. Not involved in the construction project. Answer further down in this post. I’ll leave you to ponder this momentous, life-altering question for now.
I may not have a goat in milk at the moment (Clover!), but my fascination with cheesemaking hasn’t gone away. I’d prefer to have my own fresh milk (Clover!), but I got the opportunity recently to make some cheese with the next best thing–milk from a friend whose goat is in milk. If you don’t have a goat in milk, or a friend with a goat in milk, you can even use goat milk from the store (Clover!).
She doesn’t look like she cares about my cheesemaking dreams, does she?
Fanta doesn’t care, either.
Fanta’s not a milk goat. She doesn’t have to justify her existence.
Trouble is, Clover doesn’t think she has to justify her existence, either, and she is a milk goat.
Back to cheese. Which, apparently, has nothing to do with Clover. (Clover!)
Chevre means “goat” in French, and so chevre is the name used for the classic soft goat cheese. It’s also a ridiculously easy cheese to make, every bit as simple as homemade ricotta only much more versatile. To make chevre, you need a gallon of goat milk and one packet of starter. You can use either a direct-set chevre starter or make your own fresh starter. Direct-set makes an easy cheese even easier. You’ll also need some butter muslin for draining, a few pots, a thermometer, and a slotted spoon/utensil.
Starters for all sorts of cheeses stay good in the freezer for a couple of years. You can purchase direct-set chevre starter–and everything else you can imagine for cheesemaking–from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. I’m sure there are other sources as well–use a search engine to find them. I’m not in sales for the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, but they are one of the best-known sources for cheesemaking supplies and I’ve had success with their products. I also recommend the Home Cheesemaking book by Ricki Carroll as a great resource.
To make chevre, take a gallon of goat milk–from somebody else’s goat (Clover!)–and pasteurize. Chevre calls for pasteurized milk. (Normally, I don’t pasteurize my goat milk. It isn’t necessary, or particularly desirable for many uses. If you buy pasteurized goat milk from the store, you get to skip this step. Read more about handling milk here.) To pasteurize, heat milk in a double-boiler, using a stainless-steel or glass pot to hold the milk, to 145-degrees and hold it at that temperature for 30 minutes. Cool the milk to 40-degrees as quickly as possible, placing the pot in ice water. If you aren’t going to use the milk right away, store it in the fridge.
How to make Chevre:
For the chevre, reheat the pasteurized milk to 86-degrees in a stainless-steel or glass pot. Add the direct-set chevre starter and stir. Set the pot aside, covered, for twelve hours. It’s a nice thing to do at night–the curds are ready for you the next morning!
Using a slotted utensil, remove the curds from the pot.
The milky-watery mixture left behind is the whey. (We’ll do something with that in a minute! No wasting!) Transfer the curds to a bowl lined with butter muslin. See how cheesy that looks already?
Chevre needs to drain longer than ricotta, which I drain by tying the curd-filled muslin right onto my sink faucet. I don’t want to tie my sink up so long, so I’m using a set-up here I learned from my friend who has the goat in milk–a paint stirring stick balanced over a large bucket. (Improvise with whatever you have onhand.)
Slip the paint stick through the tied muslin and balance it over the bucket.
Drain the cheese hanging in muslin up to twelve hours, depending on the consistency you want for your outcome, then remove from the muslin. You can store this cheese in a covered container or wrapped in the refrigerator for up to a week. A shorter draining period will give you soft, beautiful, spreadable cheese, similar to a cream cheese, which is perfect for sandwiches and crackers/chips. You can also use it in place of ricotta in recipes like lasagna. It’s my new favorite soft cheese because you can do so many things with it.
I drained this batch of chevre for only two hours to achieve a gorgeous, creamy consistency.
You can also make logs and roll them in chopped nuts or herbs and onion.
A longer draining time will give you a firmer chevre that will crumble like feta or slice like fresh mozzarella.
A ball of fresh chevre, just taken out of the muslin.
I drained this batch for twelve hours for a firm consistency.
And that’s IT. That’s how easy it is to make fresh chevre. The cheese did practically all the work by itself while I was sleeping. I LOVE MAKING CHEESE!!! (One gallon of milk will make approximately 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of chevre.)
I’m sure Clover would be very proud of herself if she had participated in this endeavor.
Quart jars of whey and fresh pasteurized milk waiting in my fridge (whey on the left, milk on the right).
Whey is the liquid that separates from the curds (solids) in the cheesemaking process–and it’s good stuff, don’t throw it out! If you don’t want to use it for anything else, it’s a nutritious supplement to feed to your animals. But why give them the good stuff? Whey can be used in cooking–such as in stocks for soups and stews–and in baking. (There are even various cheeses that can be made with fresh whey.) Store whey in the refrigerator for up to a week for use in cooking and baking.
To make Grandmother Bread with whey, replace the warm water in the recipe completely with whey. Simply heat the refrigerated whey to fingertip-hot temperature and continue, following the Grandmother Bread recipe. This makes the BEST bread in the world, hands down. The whey adds a very mild tangy flavor as well as a bit of chewy texture that is not unlike sourdough. I wish I had whey to make bread with all the time!
Sliced Grandmother Bread made with whey, drizzled with olive oil and topped with fresh basil, tomatoes, and chevre, then broiled. (YUM.)
FYI, this is the battle going on behind the scenes anytime I’m photographing food.
Now, back to that odd collection of objects at the top of this post–you didn’t forget that, did you? Did you guess right?
I have a hankering, a soulful longing, a deep and abiding need for a cheese press! Because I have a hankering, a soulful longing, a deep and abiding need to make some farmhouse cheddar, which is a very basic hard cheese, and a quick hard cheese (farmhouse cheddar ages in just one month).
The cheese isn’t for you, Boomer!
And so, next stop–farmhouse cheddar! And a homemade cheese press. (Storebought cheese presses are very expensive.) By the way, you can make farmhouse cheddar with any old cow’s milk from the grocery store, and a homemade cheese press is cheap–and not difficult to construct. So who wants to make some cheese? I’ll show you how! (Stay tuned.)
See this recipe on Farm Bell Recipes for the handy print page and to save it to your recipe box.