When I first envisioned owning dairy goats, getting to make homemade cheese was one of things I was most excited to try. During the first year with our two Nigerians, Reese was nursing off Candy and I never was able to collect enough milk to make it worthwhile to make cheese. This year, we pulled the babies at one week old to finish bottle raising them. Since then, Candy has been giving us about 1.25 to 1.5 quarts of milk a day, so I’m finally getting to make cheese and all the other things I’ve been wanting to make with goats milk!
How to Make Easy Goat Cheese
I used this Goat Cheese Making Kit from Cultures for Health, which is a great place to start if you don’t have the ingredients and equipment needed to make cheese. The kit comes with the supplies to make chèvre, feta, and a “basic goat cheese” (which is like chèvre but slightly more crumbly). Here’s my adaptation of the basic goat cheese recipe:
1 gallon of goat’s milk (raw or pasteurized – avoid ultra-pasteurized or UHT milk)
Mix 2 drops of rennet into ¼ cup of water. Set aside.
Pour one gallon of goat milk into your stainless steel pot. Place on the stove and heat on low to medium, stirring regularly to keep the milk from scorching. Check the temperature frequently, until the milk reaches 75°F. Turn off the heat.
Sprinkle 1 packet of mesophilic culture onto the top of the warmed milk. Allow to sit 2-3 minutes, then gently mix into the milk.
Pour the ¼ cup water and rennet mixture into the milk, and combine very gently using up and down motions with your spoon.
Put the lid on the pot and allow it to sit at room temperature (approximately 72°F) for 14 to 16 hours. When you check it after 14-16 hours, tilt your pot slightly — it should be solid but soft, like Greek yogurt, and the whey should appear mostly clear.
Fold your butter muslin in half to create 2 layers. Place the butter muslin into your colander to line it, then set the colander on top of a large bowl.
Using your skimmer or a large spoon, gently scoop the cheese curds out of the pot and onto the butter muslin. The whey will drain through the muslin and colander and collect in the bowl underneath.
Once you have scooped all the curds into the butter muslin, grab opposite corners of the cloth and tie them together (or use a rubber band) to make a ball of cheese enclosed in the butter muslin. Do not squeeze to expel the excess whey!
Hang the ball of curds over a bowl to drain. You can do this by tying the butter muslin to a cupboard doorknob and placing a bowl underneath, or by tying it to a large wooden spoon and suspending the spoon cross-wise over the top of a large stock pot. Allow the whey to drain for 10-12 hours for a soft, crumbly cheese. If you’d like a firmer cheese, allow it to drain for 16+ hours
Once the whey has drained and the cheese is at a consistency you like, you can remove it from the butter muslin.
Seasoning and Storing your Fresh Goat Cheese
One gallon of milk yields a pretty nice portion of goat cheese. I like to split in half to make two to four portions, depending on how much I want to eat or share, and how much I want to freeze for later.
Freezing Goat Cheese
If you want to freeze your cheese do not add any seasonings! (Not even salt!) Simply remove the cheese from the butter muslin after draining the whey, roll it into a log, wheel, or ball, and place it into a sealed container. If it is sealed tightly, unseasoned goat cheese can keep for up to 6 months in the freezer. Salt or other seasonings can be added after thawing.
Seasoning Goat Cheese
At this point, you can add whatever seasonings you’d like to your cheese. Some people mix in fresh or dried herbs, or you can mold the cheese into a ball or log, then roll it in the herbs to coat the outer layer. So far, we’ve stuck with just using non-iodized salt. Go easy on it; you need a lot less than you think!
Goat cheese should last in your refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
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