Cheese is a loved, craved, sought after and cherished food that several countries have incorporated into their culinary cultures. However, the making of cheese is a mystery to many of its eaters, although some of the tastiest cheeses are rather simple to create in your own home kitchen. This homemade soft goat cheese recipe requires only a few ingredients and a couple hours of your time; and its delelctably smooth flavor makes it a worthwhile project. So try it out and discover a tasty appetizer spread, pasta sauce and salad dressing ingredient, cream cheese alternative for cheesecake or just plain wonderful, DIY cheese!
The goat milk used for this recipe can be found at most medium to large size natural food stores, although full fat, organic cow milk will also work. Goat milk is very different in consistency from cow milk, and is more easily digestible as it has smaller butterfat globules. Goat milk has lower lactose levels, making it suitable for mildly lactose intolerant individuals, and actually has higher protein levels than cow's milk. You will want to use full fat milk, as the butterfat solids will be necessary for a nice, creamy cheese.
Using pasteurized milk for this recipe works well, but avoid ultrapasteurized milk, as it has been heated to such high temperatures that most organisms, protein structures and enzymes in the milk are destroyed. Sometimes, raw milk from local farmers can be found on your town’s Craigslist site or even a farmer’s market, but make sure to pasteurize the milk to kill pathogens. This can be done by heating the milk in a stainless steel (DO NOT USE ALUMINUM) pot to 145°F and holding it at this temperature for approximately 30 minutes. Keep stirring the milk while holding it at this temperature to keep it from burning.
This recipe is best to start in the evening before you want to serve or eat it, as it will take approximately one day for the cheese to be fully ready. This recipe yields approximately ½ pound of cheese.
1 quart pasteurized full fat goat milk
1 drop liquid rennet diluted in 5 tablespoons water / ¼ cup lemon juice / ¼ cup vinegar
sea salt (optional)
1. Heat the pasteurized milk in a stainless steel pot to 100°F, or let it cool to that temperature if you have just finished pasteurizing raw milk. Add the rennet or lemon juice or vinegar to the milk and gently stir it in.
2. Cover the milk and allow it to set for 12-18 hours at room temperature (not above 72°F), letting it coagulate.
3. Place and secure a folded cheesecloth over a large funnel, and place the funnel in a pot or large jar where you won’t have to hold the funnel for it to stay secure. Gently scoop the curds on to the cheesecloth and then pour the remaining liquid through the cheesecloth.
4. Tie the cheesecloth with a clean rubber band and suspend the bundled cheese curds over a sink or a container that will catch the whey dripping through the cheesecloth. Let the curds drain for at least 6 hours.
5. Unband the cheesecloth, spread it open on a plate or shallow bowl and scoop the drained cheese curd into a mold or airtight container. Shaped cookie cutters on a flat plate is a nice touch when plannning to serve at a dinner party or special occasion.
6. If you wish, slightly salt the cheese by sprinkling about ½ teaspoon salt over the surface of the cheese. Let the cheese set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. If using a plate and cookie cutters, cover the plate when refrigerating, and remember to take off the cookie cutters before serving!
7. Serve with crackers, bread, on salads or use in a delicious goat cheese recipe! If you’re feeling extra creative, try a tasty, herbed version. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, as this cheese will last for up to 3 weeks.
Images: lindyi, David Christian, grongar