As part of my fabulous foodie weekend on Seneca Lake a few weeks ago we decided on a couple of easy foodie projects to do together. The first project was making goat’s milk cheese or “Chevre”.
It was surprisingly easy and the end product was wonderfully silky and creamy. The nice thing for our group was that several people who thought they didn’t like goat cheese (“too goaty” says my chef friend Kris) deciding that it was really quite tasty.
It all begins with fresh goat’s milk which my chef friend, and our hostess, Laura got from a goat farm in Penn Yan, NY, just over the hill from her Seneca lake home. The milk itself was quite mild tasting, but definitely not cow’s milk!
We made two batches of cheese with differing results so it was a great learning experience for all of us! The recipe calls for pasteurizing the milk to kill off any unwanted bacteria, and to give a reliable way to have the cheese turn out. As newbie cheese makers we thought this was a good idea!
We pasteurized the milk by heating it to 165º then allowing it to cool to 86º before proceeding with the cheese making. Then you add some enzyme (ours came from cheesemaking.com and it came in a small packet that was sprinkled over the pasteurized milk.) The batch then sits for 12 hours as the curd forms. (It looks a bit like yogurt.)
After 12 hours, you drain the whey off, and put the curd into a fabric called butter muslin and then hung over a bowl to continue draining for another 12 hours at which point you have chevre! (You can drain it longer to get a drier cheese, but then it gets that chalky texture that many people don’t care for. Our cheese was very creamy and soft.)
The first batch was started late on Thursday night after some wonderful Lemondrop martinis and a lot of talking and eating, and eating and talking so the milk didn’t cool the whole way down to 86º before we were ready for bed sometime around midnight (not enough ice for an ice bath either!), so the cheese making enzyme was added while it was around 92º. The second batch was started at noon on Friday, allowed to cool to the proper temperature and we ended up with a lot more cheese curd than the first batch. Lesson learned? Temperature really matters when making cheese, have plenty of ice ready for an ice bath and don’t drink Lemondrops prior to making cheese! 😉
After draining the cheese you can sprinkle a pinch of salt over it and whisk it in, or what we did for our first batch was to flavor it with some lovely Herbs de Provence that Laura had brought home from a trip to France while we were waiting for the curds to form (just about 1/2 tsp. was plenty to give a mild flavoring).
Chevre can be made into small forms by using cups or timbales, but it can also be made into logs which is what we did.It was easy to handle and when the logs were rolled we experimented with flavoring the outside of the cheese. Some we rolled in Fleur de Sel salt (flaked sea salt from France), others in a great salt mix made in western NY called Borsari salt
Some of the other logs that didn’t have the Herbs de Provence in them were coated in the herbs.Any way we prepared them, they were delicious, but I have to say the Borsari salt was my favorite! (Borsari is a great blend of salt and herbs and spices that is a great way to add flavor to any meat or vegetable. Just a great ingredient everyone should have! You can find Borsari salt with the spices and salt at Wegman’s stores around here. Or you can order online!
We each took a log home and Laura shared some of her delicious red pepper jelly with us to go along with the chevre and it was a wonderful treat!
Give it a try! Here is a great .pdf file with instructions
http://www.susanparks.com/cheesemaking/makingchevre.pdf, and here is a resource for the enzymes http://www.cheesemaking.com. To find goat’s milk, check the natural food markets or ask at the local farmer’s market. It’s easy to find and worth the effort!