Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Making Chevre

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I fantasize about things that may not be considered normal for a girl living in the middle of Los Angeles. I like to imagine starting each day by gathering eggs from backyard chickens, ending my weekly trips to the farmers’ market (even though I love them so) because I have every vegetable and fruit already growing in my backyard, and, as of late, having my own herd of goats. I’m a big fan of goat cheese, well any cheese really, but I love the tang of goat cheese that makes it the perfect addition to so many salads and the occasional savory or even sweet tart, so the idea of having my own herd and fresh goat milk available for cheese making sounds too good to be true. Since I still rent and have yet to acquire my own flock of chickens, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the goats will have to wait. However, I recently discovered that the homemade cheese does not.

After a successful attempt at homemade ricotta, I started looking around for different cheeses that I could try my hand at in my own kitchen. It turns out that making goat cheese is a relatively simple process. Heat the goat milk, add the culture, let sit, drain, hang and let sit some more and that’s it! The active time needed is really only about 30 minutes and the taste is definitely worth the effort (allow two days for the sitting and hanging times needed). I really wasn’t prepared for the creaminess of the homemade chevre. I had to stop myself from eating the majority of it straight out of the bowl. You can salt and season to your liking, but so far, I’ve found the tart creaminess perfect as it is. I have enough that I may make an herbed version to serve with bread or to use as the cheese on a rustic pizza. Experiment with different flavors and let me know how it goes.

If you’re in the LA area, I got my chevre culture at Surfas. If you don’t have a good gourmet shop or restaurant supply store in your area, there are online sources including this one. I got my goat milk in one quart containers from Whole Foods.

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Fresh Chevre

2 quarts pasteurized goat milk
1/2 packet of chevre culture meant for 1 gallon of milk
Lots and lots of cheesecloth
Twine

Heat the goat milk in a stainless steel pot to 86* and whisk in the chevre culture. Remove from heat and let sit at room temperature for 12 – 24 hours. I let mine sit for about 20 because I kept waiting for the curds to form. It turns out that hard curds will not form, but you will notice a much thicker, creamier texture to the milk. When you see that thickness, drain the milk in a colander lined with lots of cheesecloth set over a bowl. Rather than pouring the milk through the colander straight from the pan, use a ladle to gently pour it in. You may only be able to fit half the milk in at a time. That’s fine. You’ll hang the first batch before laying out more cheesecloth to drain the second.

After the milk has drained slightly and you see some whey collected in the bowl, gather the cheesecloth together and secure with twine (as shown in the picture above). Use the twine to hang the cheese where it can continue to drain for 10 hours. Do not try to rush the draining process, it takes time. Repeat until all the milk has been drained and is hanging. After 10 hours has passed, open up your cheesecloth packets to find creamy, tart, fresh (!) goat cheese. Salt and season to taste or use as is.

27 comments:

Through My Kitchen Window said...

It sounds like you want to be an artisan cheesemaker. What a wonderful dream and in the meantime it is good to work toward that goal. I actually own a farm and my husband and I swing from lets start a cheese farm, to lets grow veggies, to lets have tropical fruit plantations to lets ...you name it. I wish I knew what I wanted! Good luck in your pursuits.

Christina Kim said...

You are brave in the kitchen! Much more daring that I. Homemade goat cheese sounds just luxuriously good... way to go!! I hope you get your chickens someday :)

gammypie said...

I love goat cheese!! Your right about it being perfect in salads. I also love is smothered over a warm baguette topped with roasted tomatoes.

squirrelbread said...

Brave indeed. I am impressed and jealous! I wanted [and still do in the future maybe] to make artisan goat cheese. I love the fresh, cool feeling of good goat cheese in your mouth. It is one of the most refreshing feelings in spring and summer!

Cheers,

*heather*

Mary said...

You are very ambitious! Your cheese looks wonderful.

Gigi said...

This looks fabulous! I am absolutely going to make it. You rock.

-Gigi

Alison said...

I have similar desires, but I live in a very restrictive Valencia, CA where chickens are strictly forbidden...sigh. But I make cheese too, and just planted two apple trees in place of my two longed-for chickens. That will have to do for now. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I'll have to give it a go sometime soon.

lisaiscooking said...

I've never made cheese, but I get more and more inspired every time I read about it. Your fresh chevre looks incredible!

Bridgett said...

This is fantastic! You are so talented.

croquecamille said...

This looks really similar to the process for making mascarpone. Here's one of my favorite online resources for cheese making: http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser/Cheese/Cheese.html

It's written by a biochemist, so some of the language is a little technical, but you can tell he's passionate about cheese. What a fun and delicious hobby! :)

savour-fare.com said...

I think my husband would call you a bad influence, because now I want to make cheese, and I don't need to be making cheese! My ricotta (OK, I couldn't resist) tasted very strongly of vinegar -- how do I stop that from happening?

This looks like a lot of the fresh goat cheeses you can buy in Paris. Have you tried aging it a bit? Don't you wish you had your own cheese cave?

Holler said...

That looks wonderful! You did a brilliant job!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

I'm with you on the strange predilection for making things you're not supposed to do in big cities. I have 2 large jars of sauerkraut curing in my bedroom closet and have been contemplating the addition of a couple pork cheeks to make guanciale before the weather warms up.

Noelle said...

I am on my third "homemade butter" attempt this week! I thought to myself, "I grew up in LA...I didn't even KNOW there was such a thing as homemade butter unless I grew up with Laura Ingalls Wilder!"

Congratulations on the cheese....so awesome...

unconfidentialcook said...

How amazing is this? I'm going right to Surfas and to Whole Foods....

Apples and Butter said...

TMKW - I would love to be an artisan cheese maker! So jealous of your farm, but I know in reality that it's a ton of work so kudos to you!

Christina - I'm determined to get them some day! Just give me some time!

Gammy - I can smell the baguette now!

Heather - Let's go in on our own herd!

Alison - I'll trade you eggs for apples if I ever get some running around in the backyard.

Camille - You're getting me into trouble. Now I'll be making cheese every week!

Savour-Fare - I used lemon juice in making my ricotta so I didn't have the problem with vinegar. If you're going to make it again with vinegar I would cut down on the amount of vinegar and only add more if curds fail to form. I still have goat cheese in my fridge, can that count as my cheese cave for now?

Marc - A man after my heart. Will you share your pork cheeks if I come to NY?

Noelle - Let me know if the butter turns out. I'm addicted to Pamplie butter at the moment. Check it out if you have the chance.

Unconfidential - Say hi to David for me!

emiglia said...

I just had a tour of a cheesemaker's shop, and we learned that cheese from goat's milk (or sheepsmilk) gets you more cheese from your milk. I immediately thought it would be a fun thing to try at home... thanks for this recipe!

Sophie said...

MMMMMM...you have done a great job!! Looks delicious!!

Diana said...

I don't think I would be safe around all that fresh goat cheese! Every time I see it on a menu, I feel compelled to order it -- regardless of how it is being used!

Lickedspoon said...

Your cheese looks delicious and your pictures are so inspirational, you make me want to get the muslin out and give it a go. I eat so much goat's cheese (on crusty bread for breakfast, in salads at lunch, on pizza or swirled into pasta for dinner, the list is almost endless) that it would certainly be time well spent. Lovely post!

Maria said...

Great post! I have never made my own cheese before. Nice work!

The Wanderers' Daughter said...

My husband and I have been meaning to do this for two years now. The adoption and our kiddo got in the way, and now there's precious little time for extras...but one of these days, when things slow down a bit...

eatingRD said...

thanks for visiting my blog and your kind words! I can imagine the expense of LA housing, that's really the only reason we are buying is because it is so affordable in Vegas now.
oh my goodness I love goat cheese! I always put this on a salad with dried fruit and nuts. I also like to bread it and saute it sometimes too. I love all your pictures so simple yet intricate and so refreshing, what a great blog.

-kristen

RebeccaC said...

Your fantasies and my fantasies are almost exactly the same.

Definitley going to have to try this cheese. I've also wanted to try making my own Fresh Mozzarella, which I've heard is super duper easy as well.

Just Cook It said...

Absolutely fantastic. Kudos

theforeignkitchen said...

I have been fantasizing about making goat cheese for the longest time now, but since my stand at the farmer's market is right next to Blue Ledge Farm and their chevre I always cop out and buy theirs. But i will take this post as my official kick in the butt.

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