Say Cheese!

First Batch of homemade goat cheese, October, 2007

Ever since we got our goats last Spring, people have been asking when we'd get around to making goat cheese.  Well, we finally did it, and we were not disappointed!

Mind you, this was no easy undertaking.  Our little goat Anabelle is not really bred to be a milk goat, and she had never been trained to stand still while being milked.  I have been milking her off and on since she gave birth in April, but I got so discouraged that I actually gave up completely some time in July.  Anabelle would kick the milk bucket over, pitch a fit, and never stand still in the milking stand.  Typically I would get a cup of milk filled with hair along with bits of dirt and worse.  I had figured she was all dried up until I recently noticed the girls were still nursing on her.  So I started milking her again, this time with a bit more purpose.  Every night I lock her in a stall by herself, so the girls will not nurse on her all night long.  Then in the morning she will have something to share with me.  She is still fidgety in the milk stand and gives less than a pint of milk each morning, but at least it's something.  By freezing each day's milk I can save up enough for a batch of cheese.

For the first batch I saved up about a 1/2 gallon of prime Anabelle milk.  I absolutely adore Anabelle's milk, it tastes wonderfully sweet and has no unpleasant "goatiness" at all.  Goat's milk is considerably more nutritious and has more minerals and vitamins than cow's milk.  (comparison )  I feel like Popeye and Superman together after drinking a cup of her milk in the morning!

All of the cheesemaking untensils (including the milk bucket) have to be kept sterilized.  For a basic Chevre cheese, you warm the milk to 72 degrees, add a culture and rennet, and let it sit overnight.  The next day it looks like a giant cheese curd floating in a yellow pot of whey.  Cutting the curds is pretty easy, you just have to chase it around the pot a little bit as the whole thing is slippery.

 

Next the curds are dumped into some cheesecloth so the whey can drain off.  At this point some salt is stirred in and the whole thing tied up to drain overnight.  We hung it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.  I put the whey out for the chickens to drink up, they made short work of it.

  

Here's the bag of fresh goat cheese the next day.  It was all firmed up into a dry lump of cheese weighing about 1 pound.  We cut into it and started eating it right away.  The taste was very mild and sweet.  The cheese should keep for about 2 weeks.  For our next batch, I think we will mix in some spices and maybe put it into a mold to make it a little classier.

I used culture and rennet from Caprine Supply and the recipe was a combination of recipes I found on Fiasco Farms and David Fankhauser's Cheese page .

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