Distinctive, yet simple, goat cheese is a miracle cheese. As a spread on bagels or crusty bread, breakfast is instantly upgraded. Dappled onto our weekly pizza night creations, we've entered into the world of gourmet dining. It's a miracle if a log stays in our fridge for more than a week.
Goat cheese - or often called chèvre (French for goat) - is, not surprisingly, made from goat's milk. It can be mild-to-twangy tasting depending on how it's made, nevertheless, it is always amazing in my book.
That signature twang comes from the high content of capric acid in the milk, yet surprisingly, goat milk and goat cheese is easier on the digestion for many who are sensitive to cow's milk.
This is great for the eaters in our house, and fortunately they are all crazy about some goat cheese. I love supporting local farmers in the area, too, when fresh milk is available.
So, why not make it myself, right?
It's a simple, yet long process, and there are some upsides and downsides, for sure.
What to expect:
If you can't get fresh goat milk, expect two days of work and don't expect your goat cheese to become more than a spread.
Pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized goat milk, which is what's usually readily available in grocery stores, doesn't separate like fresh goat milk. It will still create a yummy, tart spread, but you won't be able to shape it into a log.
With ultra-pasteurized, the process takes about 24 hours longer. This is because you'll need to let your "curds" settle longer to let them separate from the whey. They will need to drain longer when transferred to your cheesecloth, as well.
Still, I love the fact that I can create this myself, serve plain or add my own fresh herbs, honey or spices and the creamier version is excellent for creating cheesecakes and other baked goods. It's an instant smile creator.
Let's make it:
Handmade Goat Cheese
- 1 gallon goat milk
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- Salt to taste - approximately 1 ½ tbs.
- Fresh herbs, spices or flavors if you so choose
Pour your milk into a large stainless steel pot, about 8 quarts.
Slowly bring your milk up to 180-200 degrees F – no more! Use a thermometer to ensure you are at the right temperature.
Once you've reached the right temp, slowly add the lemon juice, stirring gently. No more stirring is needed. The milk will curdle by itself.
Remove from stove and let cool until it's about 100 F.
Slowly add your salt.
If you are using ultra-pasteurized milk, you'll need to let it sit overnight to let the curds and whey separate.
Drain your cheese into a cheesecloth over a bowl or pot, taking the four corners and tying them together.
Hang the dripping cheese over the edge of a pot or bowl until you get the consistency you'd like. The longer you let it hang, the denser your cheese will be.
One you've got the consistency you want, untie the cheese, mold it and chill until cold, adding herbs, flavors or spices.
Twinkle VanWinkle has over 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks. She baked apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and has appeared on Food Network's "The Best Of..." Along with producing dynamic lifestyle content for LIN Media, she is a mother, cook, musician and social media fanatic.
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