Making your own goat cheese might sound complicated and time consuming but I was happy to find it’s easy-peasy. No toodle to the health food store for cheese-making rennet required (unless that health food store sells raw goat milk like mine). It only requires whole goat milk, lemon juice, a food thermometer and a little of your sweet (or savory) time.
If you do have access to raw goat milk, please consider it, not only for the many, many health benefits associated with raw (read: as nature intended) milk, but also because it makes a superior cheese.
Please note that it will likely be impossible to make cheese out of ultra-pasteurized milk, as the ultra pasteurization process so manipulates the milk molecules that it’s darn near impossible to achieve curdling. Yeesh, milk that won’t curdle? Creepy.
My raw milk comes courtesy of Claravale Farm, which is one of two independent dairies currently supplying California with raw milk, the other being Organic Pastures Dairy. Claravale’s milk comes from pastured, beautiful Jersey cows, who are considered to have some of the richest, most delicious milk available. I quite agree. Plus, they are completely adorable. In addition to their beautiful cows, Claravale supplies luscious, tangy goat milk.
Their website has a great FAQ page for those of you who would like to learn more about raw milk and pastured, healthy cows. And, if you’re like myself, you’ll be interested in reading the two articles on their links page regarding the over-zealous, overreaching governmental agencies and legislators trying to unfairly ban all raw milk sales.
I will address the health benefits of raw milk and the outrageous federal and state harassment of raw milk farmers, consumers and other small farmers in an upcoming post.
But enough with legal battles! Let’s talk cheese.
I found this recipe after hunting for various ways to make goat cheese. While rennet is easily available, it’s not the kind of thing most folks keep in their cupboard for cheese making emergencies.
After comparing a few recipes, I followed this one from SeriousEats.com pretty closely.
1 quart (liter) whole goat milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped (optional
Pour the goats milk into a sauce pan and bring to exactly 180F (82C). The milk will become frothy but be sure it doesn’t boil.
Take the milk off the heat and pour in the lemon juice.
Lightly stir and allow it to curdle for about 10 minutes, or until the temperature lowers to 120F (48C). A word of caution from experience: do not scrape the bottom of your pot as there will likely be a thin layer of lightly burned milk that will turn into ribbons of brown curd which are harmless and taste fine, but aren’t so pretty.
When the curd has floated to the bottom of the pot leaving the clear whey on top, ladle the curd through a triple layer of cheese cloth to avoid losing the smallest curds. Keep the whey as a healthy addition to your morning protein shake or to add zingy flavor to soups.
Tie the ends of the cheesecloth over a spatula or other long utensil and allow the cheese to drain over a bowl large enough to keep the cheese from dipping into the whey. Set in your refrigerator to drain for at least 12 hours or longer. A day or two will help to enhance and ripen the flavor.
Now you can choose whether to spice it up or not! Add a little salt if you like plain goat cheese, add herbs for a savory experience or cranberries and pecans for a tangy sweet treat. Whatever you decide, be sure to add just a bit of salt to enhance those flavors. I decided to use fresh basil and rosemary with a few grinds of black pepper, but experiment with oregano, tarragon, marjoram, lemon or orange zest, garlic, sundried tomatoes, porcini mushrooms… Be creative! Mix everything together well, then roll and pat into a tight ball. Keeps up to a week in the fridge.