I love spreadable herbed goat cheese… the kind that comes in the tiny little cylinder at the deli counter that costs you an arm and a leg. So expensive, but so yummy. It’s great on pesto pizzas with chicken and arugula. Perfectly delicious on its own spread on a sliced baguette. And… it’s stupid simple to make homemade chèvre. No special cheese making kit or rennet tablets required.
While chèvre made with rennet tends to be firmer, this is dead on in taste and texture with the spreadable deli counter variety goat cheese that I love so much. The more you let it drain, the firmer it will be.
This process is very, very similar to my method of making ricotta out of cow’s milk. You can use pasteurized store-bought whole goat milk (if one doesn’t have a goat handy), and it appears to curd well enough. For equipment, all you need is a heavy pot, a candy thermometer, a colander, and some cheesecloth. Your other ingredients? Lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and whatever you wish to crust your goat cheese with, if anything at all.
Apply heat, add acid, let the acid denature the proteins and cause the whey, water and casein proteins to separate. Stir and drain. Some homemade goat cheeses are made using the acidity of cultured buttermilk and lemon alone. Adding vinegar, however, imparts a sharper taste and firmer curd than lemon juice alone, which means more cheese out of the same amount of milk, and less lost through the cheesecloth.
You may wonder why one would bother making their own. Well… cost. Even using store bought ingredients, I paid $12 for 4L of goat’s milk and $1 for a couple of lemons. I used my dried thyme and fresh rosemary out of the garden. So without any sort of bargain hunting, I can get more than twice as much goat cheese for the same amount of money.
Also, cheese making is fun!
- 1 quart whole goat's milk (fresh unpasteurized will yield better results, but store bought is OK)
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (the juice of about one and a half to two lemons)
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- Herbes de Provence or herbs of your choice (I used dried thyme and fresh rosemary)
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot, add the cold goat's milk.
- On medium heat, stirring frequently, heat the goat's milk to 175-180F. Milk should begin curdling but not boil. Remove from heat.
- Add lemon and vinegar, stir well, and let sit for 5 minutes.
- While goat milk is separating, set a colander over a bowl, and line the colander with at least 4 layers of cheesecloth (curds will be fairly fine).
- Slowly and carefully, pour the curds and whey into the colander. Let drain at least 10 minutes.
- Set the bowl and colander in the sink, lift the corners of the cheesecloth, and suspend the cheesecloth with a knot from your sink faucet hanging over the bowl for 1 hour. Do not squeeze!
- Carefully dump the curds onto a plate and knead table salt into the curds with your fingers. Shape salted curds with your hands into a cylinder, and crust by rolling the cylinder in finely chopped or dried herbs (if desired).
- Place the cheese in a Tupperware container, and leave in the fridge to set firm and take on the flavours of the herbs... at least 1 day if herb-crusted.
- For a stronger, more cultured taste, cover the pot with the goat's milk loosely with Saran wrap and let it sour naturally a bit at room temperature, at least 8 hours, before heating.
- While the temptation is great, do not squeeze the cheese in the cloth to hasten draining... you will smoosh the cheese through the cloth, and it's impossible to get out.
- Preserve the leftover whey (there will be about 750ml) for use in baking or smoothies to decrease waste. It's good, and you can freeze it if you don't plan to use it within a few days.