Thursday, March 26, 2009

Easy Goat Cheese!

OK people, this is what it's all about! This is WHY we have dairy goats! Sure, the goat-milk soap is awesome & wonderful & fun to make... but the cheese... YUM! And fresh chevre is EASY.

The key to great-tasting cheese is to start with the freshest milk. I like to use 1.5 gallons of goat milk, it's the perfect amount for me. If you don't have goats, find somebody who does, or look for a farm (please don't buy that stuff at the store, unless you know it's really fresh.) Ask around, or ask me.

This morning, I milked my goats (sweet little things,) immediately pasteurized it, cooled it down to 88 degrees, and added a simple chevre packet ( The packet has the souring culture - this bacteria converts lactose to lactic acid, thus lowering the pH and "souring." It also has the rennet, the enzyme which coagulates the milk... very convenient little packet! Stir this in and walk away! Let it sit all day at room temp, undisturbed.

At the end of the day, after the boys are asleep, I get out my glass of wine (OK, sometimes the whole bottle, but I usually share it.) The butter muslin is boiled to sterilize, the counters and utensils are sanitized. I line my colander with the muslin (doubled up) and place it over a pot to collect the whey. At this point, the cheese has separated from the whey, and can be scooped out and put into the muslin. After it's all in, the muslin ends are tied into a knot to hang overnight. I hang mine on the faucet, over the colander pot, in the sink of my "milk room." Well, my milk room is really my laundry room... but it's really clean! I swear!
In the morning, it will be ready! I add one teaspoon of salt (NOT the iodide kind) to the whole batch. If it seems dry, stir in some extra whey. I get 2.5 POUNDS of goat cheese from 1.5 gallons of milk... it's a lot of cheese... but it goes soooo fast! Just think of all the friends you'll make!
Lately, my favorite is to add roasted garlic and dried basil... sometimes red pepper flakes too. My friend adds fancy herbs and makes a puffed pastry, but she's a chef. Someday I'll post some great goat-cheese recipes (oooh, with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes.) But I digress... don't throw out the whey, find a way to use it in cooking. We save it for our dogs, they get it poured over their dog food like cereal, they LOVE it!

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