Making cheese is always about separating the curd from the whey. –The Cheese Nun
Chevre is a white, creamy cheese made from goat milk. It can be sharp, perfect with herbs on a cracker, or it can be mild, with less salt, like a bright cream cheese, or a dessert cheese. The steps are extremely similar to making queso blanco: get the milk at the right temp, add some stuff that makes the milk separate into curds and whey, then pour through cheese cloth and hang up to drain. As the Cheese Nun says, the steps in making soft cheeses are always basically the same. Getting a different cheese is all in the details. (Did you know they have man-made cheese aging caves in France that have been in continuous use for a thousand years??? The Cheese Nun has the scoop.)
Here’s what you need:
Half a gallon of goat milk (whole and raw is what we used), 1/8 teaspoon chevre direct set culture, and 1/5 of one drop of rennet. Maybe some salt, unless you want it as a dessert cheese. You also need a stainless steel pot with a lid, a thermometer, and a stainless steel skimmer or slotted spoon.
If the milk is from the fridge, you will want to warm it up to 72 degrees. If the milk is from the goat, you can just pour it into your pot. Unless you’re worried about pasteurization, which some people are. So far, I’m all about raw milk. If I get rushed to the emergency room, you’ll know why.
Okay, so once you get the milk to 72 degrees, you add your chevre culture. Basically, there are all these complicated steps to making a mother culture in ice cube trays, warming this and freezing that–or you can just pay a little more and get the direct set kind which you add directly to the milk. Which do you think I did? Right.
Okay, you dump that stuff in and then you dump in your 1/5 drop of rennet–
–wait a minute, you say, how the heck do you get one fifth of a drop? Well, it’s easy. You put five tablespoons of water in a cup, add one drop of rennet, mix well, and then get one tablespoon of the water and mix it into the milk.
You stir the rennet in through your skimmer, which Sophie tried to get a picture of here. You want the rennet as evenly distributed as possible, and you want to use the absolute minimum amount, lest one’s cheese get rubbery. So if you get rubbery cheese, use less next time.
And that’s it for a while. Put the lid on your pot, put it somewhere warmish, around 75 degrees, and ignore it for sixteen hours or so. Live life. Have a party. Whatever. Just don’t disturb your cheese. Here is what that part looks like:
Okay. You come back and peek in the pot and yuck, what a mess of coagulated milk you have, floating in a mass of greenish liquid. Gross. Still, you ladle that stuff (or pour it, if it isn’t too thick) into your cheese cloth lined colander.
Tie it up like so, hang it from somewhere, and wait five hours more while it drains.
We used the kitchen sink again, which I don’t really recommend because it meant we couldn’t really use the sink all afternoon, so the dishes kept piling up and by the time it was time to eat the cheese, our microscopically small kitchen had disappeared under the weight of them. I had to do some major cropping in the final product photo which is here:
Poof! Chevre! Doesn’t that sound cosmopolitan and rustic all at the same time? What kind of goaty magic is it that performs this slight of hand? Well, anyway, it’s really, really good. We salted it and ate it for breakfast with peach jam on toast. Yum! Thank you Fancy (that would be our currently lactating goat) for the milk!