Making my own cheese at home is something I do for fun. It's a science, and it can take years of trial and error before you get it right. I was lucky enough to find some great books when I began that pointed me in the right direction.
You have to take so many things into consideration such as PH, temperature, and even humidity for aging certain cheeses. Our first attempt at making our own cheese involved a recipe for something called "microwave mozzarella." As you can guess, it turned out to be a complete joke and waste of supplies.
We were finally able to master making real mozzarella this past summer when we invested in a PH meter. PH has turned out to be critical to all of our cheese making, and failure to pay attention to it may leave you with a mess of inedible curds. In order to avoid steering people towards attempting to make a cheese that will disappoint, I decided to offer my recipe for making chevre.
The last thing I want is for people to get discouraged with the cheese making process and waste time and money. Chevre is by far the easiest cheese to make in my opinion. It does take a long time, but all you need to do is walk away and let it work. We prefer to use raw goats milk. Raw is always preferable since it is unpasteurized and still has all the beneficial bacteria in it.
Remember to take caution before using any raw milk. You want to see the animals the milk came from and talk to the owner. Find out about sanitation methods and the medical history of the goats. If you are the "better safe than sorry" type, just go to Whole Foods, or even your local market and you should be able to find pasteurized goats milk in the dairy section.
Jon and I are in the process of buying a small farm and we plan on making lots of raw grass-fed cheeses, butter, yogurt, and other dairy products. Fresh cheese is very expensive to buy in the store. Making it yourself is extremely rewarding, and once you get into the hobby you are going to want to experiment with more complex recipes later on. The goat you see below is the one who gave us the milk for this batch of cheese :) Good luck.
Recipe: Homemade Chevre
- 1 gallon goat's milk
- 1/4 tsp. mesophilic chevre culture
- 1/2 drop liquid rennet
- Sterilize all equipment in your dishwasher if you have the setting to do so, otherwise you will need to use a solution of diluted bleach in water. Make sure all equipment is dried with paper towels before you begin.
- Add milk to a stainless steel pot. You need to use stainless steel otherwise it throws off the PH and could cause problems with your cheese. Using a double boiler (you can use a separate pot with boiling water underneath the pot you use to warm your milk with). Bring the temperature of the milk up to 85 degrees F and remove from heat.
- Remove the milk from the heat and pour it into a plastic container. Allow it to rest for a few minutes. I like to use a rectangular or square plastic Tupperware container that has a lid on it. This keeps out any contaminates that might find their way into the cheese.
- Take your mesophilic culture and sprinkle it evenly over the surface of the milk and allow it to sit for 5 minutes to activate. Using a stainless steel or wooden spoon, gently stir the milk to incorporate the culture throughout.
- To ensure the right amount of liquid rennet, fill a measuring cup to the 1/2 cup line with cold water. Add 1 drop of liquid rennet, stir, and then add 1/4 cup to the milk. Stir gently.
- Place the lid on top of the plastic container, and put the whole container in your oven with the light on for 12 hours. If you don't have a light in your oven that's OK. Keeping it in your oven gives the bacteria a quiet spot to work their magic.
- After 12 hours, remove the container from your stove and place a colander lined with cheese cloth (you could even use a clean hankerchief) in your sink. Using a spoon, scoop the curds into the cheese cloth and tie it into a bundle to hang and drain. I like to use the cabinet handle right above my sink so I don't make too much of a mess. Allow the cheese to drain for 8 hours.
- Refrigerate the cheese for an hour to firm it up. At this point you can season it and shape it how you like. If you want to make a roll, just wrap it in plastic wrap and roll it using your hands. You can salt to taste. I like to liberally salt the entire outside of my cheese. It will keep up to a week and a half in your refrigerator. Enjoy.
Number of servings (yield): 12