Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cheesemaking 101


I love making cheese. I suppose that should it be added to my daily regimen of things to do, along with milking my imaginary goats and mucking out the imaginary chicken coop, it might become a cumbersome task. But as it's not a regular occurrence, it is a rather lovely way to spend a rainy morning. And because I make cheese so infrequently, it still feels a bit momentous...like I've accomplished something really, really special. And there is also the not-so-small matter that homemade cheese tastes so very good. It's like the difference between homemade bread and that stuff that comes wrapped in plastic and is sold at that giant supermarket down the street.

And while you might be really impressed that I've endeavored to do such a crazy thing, is is embarrassingly easy to make. So simple, in fact, that I always wonder why I don't just make it a part of my regular homemaking routine....

I love the way it warms up my kitchen with a sweet milky fragrance that smells a lot like baby breath. And while the milk from a goat has a distinctly goat-ish scent, it is not off putting in any way. The resulting cheese is mild and flavorful and perfect spread on some of that homemade bread in your breadbox.







Before you get going, make sure your kitchen counter, your hands, and all the pots and pans you will use are spic and span to avoid contamination. Pour your quart of goat milk (freshly milked...or freshly purchased from your favorite grocer) in a pot, heat it to just before the boiling point, add an acid (like lemon or vinegar), wait until curds form, drain, add salt, and shape. That's it! Simple, right? And so beautiful and tasty too...



Goat Cheese

This cheese is easy to make and even easier to eat. Double the recipe to make more if you want, but keep in mind that it only stays fresh for a few days.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes, plus an hour or two to drain
Yield: about 1/2 cup of cheese

Ingredients:

1 quart of goat milk
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
pinch of salt, to taste

Directions:

1. Heat milk in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Place a candy thermometer in the milk and stir occasionally.

2. When the milk reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, stir in the lemon juice. Continue heating until small curds form, but do not let the milk boil. At this point, the milk will begin to look clearish yellow. That is the proverbial whey, which can be drunk, used in baking, or fed to your animals.

3. Turn off the heat. Line a small strainer with cheesecloth. Carefully pour the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer, reserving the whey in a bowl underneath if desired. Tie up the cheesecloth and gently squeeze to remove more whey. Hang the cheese from your faucet, or a wooden spoon set over a deep bowl or pot for one to two hours to continue to remove moisture from the cheese.

4. Remove the cheese from the cloth. It will be a bit crumbly. Add salt to taste and then pack the cheese into a small ramekin to store. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Use within a few days.


9 comments:

Anne said...

Beautiful! I adore goat's cheese - this looks so wonderful. Not to mention I now have more ideas for the bag of citric acid I bought.

Charles G Thompson said...

Nice blog! I live in So Cal too and try to eat 'locally' as much as possible. I love goat cheese but I haven't made any at home yet. I will try your recipe.

Trish said...

Beautiful shot. I so know what you mean about the cheese making and the way it makes your kitchen smell, the way one feels healthy and wholesome inside. And you are right...not that hard to do. It is only the time that it seems we so rarely get...to actually even be AT home. Wonderful...good for you!

Caroline@DivineDesserts said...

I have never made cheese, nor did I know how to make cheese. This was really interesting! Thanks for the post. Maybe I will try it sometime!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks for commenting on my latest blog post...a kindred spirit regarding eating breakfast items for dinner...looking forward to reading your blog...and trying your recipes...they all look good, but right now am coveting your oatmeal brown sugar scones!

Apples and Butter said...

I love this simple recipe! The only time I made goat cheese I used a starter and it took forever. It was worth it, but I can't wait to try this quick version! By the way if you want to try the long way, Surfas carries everything you need.

Alison said...

It's definitely not creamy like a chevre...and it's quite mild...however, it is so fast and perfect for crumbling over anything or eating with cheese.

Thanks for the Surfas tip! I was thinking I'd have to get stuff like that online.

Alison said...

That is...eating the cheese with crackers. lol!

Old School/New School Mom said...

I want to make goat cheese! I love goat cheese!