Since I have an abundance of goat milk these days I have been experimenting quite often with cheese making. What an art! The crafting of delicious cheeses is incredibly fun and most of the time gets amazing results.
I have had the best success, so far, with my chèvre. I have also been very successful with ricotta - talk about a delicious lasagna! Homemade ricotta is amazing. But that will be in another post.Right now we are talking chèvre. Chèvre is a fabulous soft cheese with a variety of uses. You can simply eat it on a cracker, you can add herbs to it. Put it on pizza, salad, stuffed tomatoes...the world is pretty much your oyster when it comes to a fresh batch of chèvre. I have a made a few batches now and between batches I have started frequenting the farmers market here and the local organic goat dairy has a table there where they offer samples of their chèvre - which is amazing. After tasting theirs I wanted mine to taste the same. So this last batch I decided to try hanging it for less time, I wanted it to be super creamy and smooth so I figured I needed to leave more moisture in. Oh it worked. Like a charm. So good. Once I get it out of the fridge I can't stop eating it. Especially with the roasted garlic and chives mixed in. Crazy good. This last tuesday Natalie (my sister-in-law) grabbed a french baguet at the farmers market and we brought it home and topped it with the chèvre and some incredibly fresh organic spanish extra-virgin olive oil I recently acquired and we just about died over it. I definitely had to sit down. It was so good. This is a pretty simple cheese to make and a good one to start with if you are a beginner cheese maker like myself. The best cheese is made with fresh, raw milk I am told. I have not experimented with pasteurized milk since I don't have any, so I cannot speak to how this would turn out if you were to use it. But if you have dairy goats or access to fresh milk, you should be all set to make this amazing cheese. I am writing this recipe for flavoring only half the chèvre, it makes a lot so I only did half the batch so I could use the other half on pizza or some other fun thing but if you are really serving a crowd and want to flavor the whole batch go for it! Just double the amount of roasted garlic and chives. Also the flavor of the garlic and chives gets stronger as it sits in the fridge so for immediate serving you will likely want to add quite a bit but if you can let it sit overnight you will get a nice strong garlic and chive flavor - which is SO good.
- 1 gallon fresh goat milk (do not use ultra-pasteurized milk)
- ⅛ teaspoon Mesophilic Culture MA4001
- 2 drops liquid animal rennet dissolved in ¼ cup cool water
FOR THE ROASTED GARLIC
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- extra-virgin olive oil
- Place the milk in the large pot and gently heat to 75˚.
- Remove the milk from the heat and sprinkle the culture over the top, do not stir just yet, allow it sit on top for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the culture thoroughly.
- Next pour in the rennet mixed with water and use up and down strokes to combine the rennet completely with the milk, do this for about 20 seconds and then cover the pot and allow it to culture for 14-16 hours.
- After 14-16 hours the mixture should look pretty similar to yogurt, soft and creamy but will pull away from the sides of the pan allowing the whey to come through.
- Once you have this result, place a double layer of cheesecloth into a colander and place the colander in a large bowl to catch the whey.
- Gently scoop the cheese into the cheesecloth, then gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and tie them together, I like to use some butchers twine just so I know it won't come apart. Then hang it from a cupboard handle or something like that, I don't have handles on my cupboards so I use the handle to my microwave.
- Allow it to hang for 6 hours. You can let it hang longer if you want a thicker, drier cheese but for this super creamy, spreadable cheese I have found 6 hours is perfection.
- While it is hanging get the garlic roasted by heating the oven to 400˚. Place the garlic into a small baking dish, drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle it with a little salt.
- Cover with foil and bake until the garlic is soft and can be mashed, about 30 minutes.
- Set aside to cool completely.
- Once cool, mash with a fork.
- Once the cheese is done hanging, remove from the cheesecloth and mix in salt. Divide out half the cheese and add chives and mashed garlic. to one half. Saving the other half to try something else.
- Drizzle the flavored cheese with some fresh olive oil and serve with crackers or baguette slices.