I've been fascinated with the idea of making my own cheese for years. While I make yogurt and yogurt cream cheese regularly, have tried my hand at kefir, and have even bought some rennet (which sadly expired in the fridge untouched), for some reason cheese seemed like a daunting dairy frontier.
Then last month I attended the Real Food Symposium here in Los Angeles, and after seeing a demonstration from the good folks at Mariposa Creamery on how to make goat cheese (a.k.a. chèvre), I finally got up my nerve to give it a go.
Guess what? Making goat cheese is SO EASY!
Why bother to make goat cheese at home?
Making your own goat cheese takes very little time or effort. Depending on your source of milk, you can also save quite a bit of money compared to artisan and local cheeses. I pay $30/gallon for local, raw goat milk which yields about a quart worth of cheese.
While I could buy decent goat cheese at the grocery store for cheaper, I love that my cheese is raw, crafted from local goat's milk, and the only ‘additives' are a bit of sea salt and possibly garden herbs of my choosing.
Beyond the cost, homemade goat cheese is absolutely divine to eat. Love soft, creamy, spreadable cheese? Drain your cheese for less time. Prefer dry, crumbly goat cheese? Let it hang for a full 24 hours.
Our herd share goat produces a very mild, non-goaty tasting milk, and as a result, my cheese is also mild. If you are lucky enough to have access to raw goat milk, your cheese will impart a flavor from your goat's pasture or feed, her breed, and the season. Real food goodness.
Homemade Goat Cheese Ingredients and Supplies
- 1 gallon raw goat milk (This recipe will work for pasteurized milk too, but I suggest avoiding all ultra-pasteurized dairy.)
- Mesophilic culture for cheese making, 1 pinch or 1 packet of Cultures for Health culture- find cheese cultures here
- Rennet, 3 drops – find it here
- 1/4 cup filtered water
- Large pot – big enough to hold the gallon of milk
- Large bowl – big enough to hold at least 3 quarts of liquid
- Clean flour sack towels (layered cheese cloth will work too)
- 2 heavy duty rubber bands
- A good spot to hang your dripping cheese bundle
- Unrefined sea salt to taste – find high quality sea salt here
Homemade Goat Cheese Method
- Pour goat milk into non-aluminum pot and warm to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove from heat and add cheese culture. Mix for about 20 strokes, taking care not scrape the bottom of the pot.
- Place 3 drops of liquid rennet into 1/4 cup of filtered water – add to warmed milk.
- Cover and allow to sit for 12 hours at room temperature.
- At 12 hours, check for a clean break – see this short video for a visual example.
- Line a large bowl with a clean flour sack towel.
- Gentle pour the contents of the pot (now curds and whey) into the towel-lined bowl.
- Gather the corners of the towel and wrap both rubber bands around the gathered ends making a bundle.
- Hang the dripping cheese cloth over the large bowl from a kitchen cabinet or similar set-up. (The current solution in my kitchen is to hang dripping dairy products from a light fixture above my stove.)
- Allow to drain for 6-24 hours depending on your desired consistency. I prefer 10-12 hours for a moist but crumbly cheese.
- Add sea salt to taste.