Friday, September 2, 2011

Behold the Power of Chesse.

So down here at the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, California we have some goats. We milk them daily and we get a pretty substantial yield. So one of things that we do with our surplus of goat milk is to make goat cheese. Yesterday I made chevre, that classic of classic cheese. So I thought I would share the process.

First thing you need is some goat milk. Luckily here at RDI, we have the aforementioned goats, but perhaps a local dairy could help you out.

I used 3 gallons of milk.
1/4 teaspoon of mesophilic cheese starter
7 drops of rennet

A big pot
Dairy thermometer
A couple of wooden spoons.

Pretty simple set up.

So you start with your 3 gallons of goat milk in a big pot. Heat it on low until it reaches 85 degrees. Then add the starter. This would be available at a retailer of cheese making supplies. Basically your are inoculating the milk with little microorganisms that love that 85 degree temp. If you raise the temp too high, they will die, so its important to keep an eye on it to make sure it does not overheat.

After an hour, add the rennet. Also available at cheese supply stores. Then its a matter of waiting for the curds to separate from the whey. This can take a few hours. So bake some bread, build a table or something while you are waiting.

After a few hours, take a look in the pot. If the mixture is a thick yogurt like consistency with a light milky water then you are in business. If not, then you might need to add a few more drops of rennet.

The next step is where the actual work comes in to play. First you need to have another big pot or bowl or something that you can place a strainer over. Then lay a square of cheesecloth (a square foot is a good size) over the the strainer. Then you scoop out some of the curds and fill up the cheesecloth. The curds will remain inside the cloth, while the whey will drain into the big pot or bowl. Next, tie up the 4 corners of the cheesecloth complete with curds inside it and hang that on a wooden spoon or something that will span the distance of a large bowl or pot. Basically you are letting the curds dry out and the whey will drip down into a container below. You just keep filling up the cheesecloth in the strainer until there are no curds left in the original pot.

Leave the cheesecloth filled with the curds hanging and straining over night and then come back in the morning. Untie and check it out. You have chevre. Its a good idea to add salt, and feel free to mix it all around with a spoon. It will be fine. I like to add herbs or pepper. Once we made a dessert chevre and a curry chevre, so experimentation is encouraged.

The milky watery stuff left over is the whey, and that can be used for all kinds of fun stuff. Whey soda is very tasty. Check around for some other uses for whey.

So again, pretty simple process, not a lot of materials and not a lot of work and its done in 24 hours. So why is goat cheese so expensive?

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