Chèvre

May 19, 2011 · 5 comments

Chèvre is the most basic, easy-to-make goat cheese. It is tangy, creamy, and delicious. It also has a relatively high milk to cheese ratio. I often have friends who say something along the lines of “I want to come over and watch you make cheese!” The reality is that this cheese is so easy but the steps are so spread out time-wise that it doesn’t make much sense to teach people to make it in person. For all of you who are interested, here’s the process.

This recipe is adapted from Home Cheese Making by Rikki Carroll

I start with five to six quarts of pasteurized milk (though this recipe can easily be multiplied for larger quantities). In a stainless steel pot, heat the milk to about 76°.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add one ounce (an ice cube = one ounce) of starter culture per two quarts of milk. I generally use my own prepared (then frozen) starter culture. You can also use a freeze-dried packet of starter, but this stuff already contains rennet, so you would skip the rennet-adding step.

Mix thoroughly, making sure any frozen starter is melted.

Dilute one drop of rennet (I use animal rennet. It’s important that your rennet is relatively fresh and has been stored in the refrigerator because it does lose umph after a few months.) in 5 Tbs. of cool water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add 1 Tbs. of rennet/water mixture per two quarts of milk. Stir it thoroughly with an up and down motion.

Now put the lid on the pot, move it somewhere where it can remain undisturbed at room temperature for the next 12-18 hours, and go outside to do something fun (or go to bed if you prefer to start cheese in the evening).

After 12-18 hours, the milk will have separated into curds (fat + protein) and whey (mostly water).The curd will look like a solid lump of thick yogurt sunken into translucent yellowish/greenish whey. If it’s not set up after 12 hours, put the lid back on and wait. If it’s not set up after 24 hours, you’re out of luck. Your rennet is probably no good, and you should buy a new bottle.

If things have gone bad, you will know at this point. Due to some sanitation problems, I have opened the lid on batches, and the curd was floating on the whey and full of bubbles and smelled yeasty. If it’s bad, throw it out (or feed it to your chickens). Do NOT try to salvaged contaminated cheese. duh.

Line a colander with butter muslin. In the photo below, my butter muslin is wet because I just finished boiling it for five minutes to sanitize it for reuse.

Gently scoop curds into the colander.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gather the corners of the butter muslin to form a “bag.”  Tie up the ends, and hang it in a place where it can drain for several hours. I’ve often read suggestions that you hang it over your sink, but my sink area is way too busy to have cheese curds draining in it for any amount of time. I have a string tied to a beam in the kitchen ceiling that works exclusively for hanging cheese. I put a pot under the curd bag to catch the draining whey.

Allow the curds to drain for 6 to 12 hours or to the desired consistency (longer drain time equals drier cheese). When it’s done draining, you’ll have quite a bit of whey. I usually just pour it down the drain (we have a graywater system, so it fertilizes our bamboo). In the beginning, we tried drinking the whey. It’s mostly made of water, but it also has lactose (sugar) and some trace minerals that give it a strange, almost salty taste. Henry and I couldn’t stomach it, but we used to joke about starting the kids drinking it as little ones, so they would get an acquired taste. It’s also supposed to be good for soup stock, bread starter, pig food, or plant fertilizer (though a friend said her dog started digging up plants that had whey poured on them, so watch out for that).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This cheese has drained overnight.

Peel off the cheesecloth. The cheese is done at this point, but you’re probably going to want to add at least some salt. You can buy official cheese salt, but for fresh cheese, a non-iodized corse Kosher salt will do. I never measure but just salt to taste (a couple Tbs.?)

Now is the time to add other flavorings if you choose to do so. I like to mix in a couple cloves of pressed garlic and minced rosemary or other fresh herbs. I’ve also done garlic and red pepper flakes or honey, cardamon, and roasted hazelnuts. mmmmm…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat it now, or store it in the fridge for two weeks or longer.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Baby Aunt Sue May 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm

mmmm….mmmm….mmmm thanks for this Camille

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Kristen May 20, 2011 at 5:59 am

Thanks for the instructions! Do you know if the process is similar for sheep’s cheese?

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Camille May 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Though tradition might suggest otherwise, you can make any type of cheese with any type of milk. This basic chèvre would also be considered “farmer’s cheese,” and you can make that out of any milk. You might try to find a sheep-specific conversion for temperatures in recipes based on cow’s milk. I know that you usually want to do things at a few degrees cooler with goat milk in cow milk recipes. Sheep’s milk is something I have no experience with and would imagine is hard to come by. Do you have a source?

If you try making sheep-milk cheese, let me know how it turns out. Good luck!

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Aileen June 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I love your blog! What a wonderful life you are making and what a beautiful area you live in.
We use the whey left over from making paneer (http://suburbanitefarm.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/when-athe-gives-you-milk/) to make bread. The whey is the only liquid used to make the dough. It does amazing things to the yeast and makes the dough rise much, much faster (and the resulting bread taste much, much better!). I also assume it increases the protein content of the bread a little. Ironically enough, we sometimes now make paneer because we want the whey to make bread!
We also have no oven (it broke and we haven’t got around to fixing it) so we bake by moving a cast iron pan from the stovetop (cooks the bottom) to under the grill (cooks the top). It works really well, but we are definitely going to try baking in our weber now like you do.

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Camille June 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I used to use whey for making bread, but I got too lazy to heat it back up again. Kind of pathetic, I know, but warm water comes straight out of the tap. I’ve never tried making paneer, but maybe I should.

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