Thursday, January 21, 2010
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...
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
1 quart of goat milk
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
pinch of salt, to taste
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.