Making Chevre (and Grandmother Bread with Whey)


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.

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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.
Clover: “Whatever.”

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.

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  1. Shells says:

    MMMMM…. chevre … one of my favorites. Rolled in crushed peppercorns or with roasted garlic mixed into it … very tasty on crackers.

  2. CindyP says:

    OOOOOOOOOOO, I NEED to make cheese!!!! I NEED to find a milking goat!!

  3. imnjupiter says:

    Getting ready to make some Grandmother bread with my sourdough starter this morning…

  4. Tracey In Paradise Pa. says:

    HOW COOL!! Yes I want to make cheese..Cheese is expensive and we are poor since moving and building!! One day I was so low on everything and I made your bread and felt like a rich woman..Thank you!! Have a great Fall Saturday!! Now please hug Clover foe me..I am off to granny monsters soccer games!!

  5. Sheila Z says:

    Fanta may surprise you and end up giving more milk than Clover. Clover says, “I’m retired, don’t look at me!”

    I grew up dairy farming and never made cheese. That skill was lost in my grandmothers or possibly great grandmothers generation. I know I never saw my mother make cheese. I take that back, I just remembered being very young and my mother making a batch of cottage cheese. So weird to remember that. I think I was about 6 years old. Must be it wasn’t very successful because I never remember her making it again. Anyway, you have inspired me to learn how now. I just bought twin Saanen doelings. The vet said they are too young to breed this fall. So it will be awhile before I have my own milk. In the mean time, I think I may try making cheese with cows milk from a local farmer. Waiting a until spring of 2011 for goats milk is a loooooong time. At least the goats are fun pets for now.

  6. Diane says:

    I have no desire to make cheese. But I love the last picture of Boomer. He must really love it on your farm. He has stayed with you all this time. 🙂

  7. BurningNymph says:

    Fascinating. Can’t wait for the cheddar…

  8. wkf says:

    Fanta would be easier to milk! :devil2:

  9. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    I just made cheese a few days ago on my blog. A little differently but still with delicious results. I mentioned making bread with the whey and wanting to know how. Thank you! I am so obsessed with cheese and fresh goats milk (and your grandmother bread) that we are getting ready to buy a Nubian. Nellie’s 2-quarts a day goes fast! I made peanut butter fudge using goats milk Friday. Yummmm!

  10. PetalzAndFinz says:

    I love going to the barn every morning to bring in our supply of milk. We get about half a gallon a day and after several days, we may have a gallon left from what we’ve used just for drinking and cooking. I’ve tried mozzarella and ricotta several times, but haven’t tried chevre yet. Once I’ve made ricotta with the whey, it normally goes to the pigs, but I’ll try it in the bread again. It seemed to flop last time, but I realized I hadn’t heated the whey so it went in cold. Yogurt is another great use for lots of milk. It’s easy and yummy, and you can strain it also to make a spreadable cheese.

  11. Lucky Girl says:

    Yum, I want to be your neighbor! You are amazing!

    Now I just need to break it to my “let’s sell EVERYTHING so I can retire” husband, that I NEED a milk goat..

    Love your site!!

  12. Laura Wright says:

    Suzanne – I love this, and want to try it with my daughter. I want the consistency of store-bought goat cheese. How long would you say I should drain in for?
    thanks – can’t wait for the cheddar!!

  13. marissa says:

    I am a cheese-making wanna-be…and you are an enabler of the highest order!
    I just hope it’s as easy as you make it seem…but what fun, even if it ends in disaster!

  14. Cindy in Indiana says:

    😥 WAAAHHH, I miss my Nubians!! At least I can live vicariously through your blog which is one of my first stops every single morning! Thanks, Suzanne! :hug:

  15. monica says:

    I would love to see how to make the cheese press! Farmhouse cheddar is my ultimate favorite for ham sandwiches. I would be using bought milk, since I don’t have enough acreage to keep a goat (much less a cow!) Chevre is about $20/lb and usually sold in packs of 1/4 ounce. Have you thought about trying to market what you make??? It looks like smooth velvet and probably tastes absolutely delicious!

  16. cranberry says:

    Looks rather difficult, but the results look worth it, yummers! :eating:

  17. Christine says:

    I came here, innocently enough, just to find the grandmother bread recipe. Thank you for listing it in today’s post. However, after reading said post I’m now not just going to bake a little bread. Nope. Now I’m going to get a goat. And apparently build a cheese press. It seemed like such a simple thing, just a recipe. But no…

  18. fidldd says:

    Thank You Suzanne I’m thrilled with this post about cheese making although the directions are a bit lengthy….Clover !)Can goats milk be frozen ?I have a source,far away.
    It’s OK if Clover dosen’t give milk,She has earned her keep as being such a joy to all of us.

  19. RaNae says:

    Fanta sure is magically beautiful isn’t she! And thos cheese logs look yummy.

  20. Farmchi says:

    You are making this look way to easy, so now I will have to try it! Love your cheese making posts and I can’t wait to see you make some farmhouse cheddar.

  21. ML says:

    Oooooooh Farmhouse Cheddar! Sounds yummy, can’t wait to see you make some!

  22. Remudamom says:

    I used to make cheese. It was either so good that we ate it immediately or so bad the dogs wouldn’t touch it. I never could be consistent.

  23. Jill says:

    This is great! I don’t have any goat’s milk at the moment but I do have cow milk. By the way you really need to get a good Jersey milk cow. You won’t believe the taste and the cream! Can’t wait for the next cheese post and how to make the press.


  24. Darlene says:

    I love Pirates of the Caribbean! Why’s the rum always gone?

  25. Taryn says:

    Yay! Cheddar cheese! Eventually I want to try it with goats milk, just to see how it tastes…

  26. Donna says:

    :chicken: Oh My Gosh! I absolutely love your blog and am so glad I stumbled across it. Thanks for sharing the cheese making information. It’s going to take every bit of sensiblility I may have to not get up from this desk job and go home to make cheese! I love reading about all the happenings on your farm. Keep up the wonderful writing!

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