Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Making Goat Cheese

Soft goat cheese is one of the easiest cheeses to make.  It only takes a few ingredients and some molds.  To begin, you pour two quarts of fresh goat milk into a stainless steel pot and heat it to 72 degrees.  Add 2 tbsp of buttermilk (we use buttermilk made from our goat milk of course ..smile) and 3 tsp of diluted rennet (dilution = 1 drop of liquid rennet into 1/4 cup cool water).  Rennet is made from the stomach of a cow and causes the curd and whey to separate.  {I found this about rennet very interesting....  According to http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/cheese/rennet/rennet.html, "HISTORY OF RENNET:  Presumably, the first cheese was produced by accident when the ancients stored milk in a bag made from the stomach of a young goat, sheep or cow.  They found that the day-old milk would curdle in the bag (stomach), yielding solid chunks (curds) and liquid (whey).  Once they discovered that the curd-chunks could be separated out and dried, they had discovered a means by which milk, an extremely perishable food, could be preserved for later use. The addition of salt was found to preserve these dried curds for long periods of time.
    At some point, someone discovered that the most active portion of the young animal's stomach to cause curdling was the abomasum, the last of the four chambers of the stomach of a ruminant animal.  (In sequence, the four chambers are rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum.)  In particular, the abomasum from a suckling kid or calf was especially active.  The abomasum was cut it into strips, salted and dried.  A small piece would be added to milk in order to turn it into curds and whey."}  - okay, that might have got a little "weighty" there at the end...LOL!!!

After warming the milk and adding cultured buttermilk and rennet, you stir the mixture thoroughly, cover, and let it set for 12-18 hours.  During this time, the curd will separate from the whey.  
You will want to have your molds ready before the 12-18 hours are up.  These can be bought OR you can do it yourself :D  I read somewhere, that you can drill holes in plastic cups and have basically the same thing...for much cheaper.  Sooooo, I started with some cups the kids had received from a Library Summer Reading Program {don't be offended librarians...they are being put to a greater use LOL}.  They are about 4 1/2 inches tall. The lip of the cup has a diameter of 3 1/2 inches, curving down to 2 1/2 inches at the bottom.  {Did you just hear all those numbers??  It came so close to feeling like math that I nearly got dizzy there for a sec...LOL}  I got out my husband's drill and went to work.  When I first got started, I was a tad skeptical....the drill was jerking my arm off.... LOL.  I finally figured out that I needed to hold the cup pretty firmly and just go at it.  I drilled around 28 holes in each cup, putting about 1/2 inch between each row.  Okay, cups - ready.  It is really very cool to remove the lid and see the separation the first time. Okay..I'll admit, I think it is pretty neat every time!! :D  
When you remove the lid, what you see is a solid layer of curds on the bottom and the liquid whey floating on top.  I put a small cooling rack in a pan and sit my cups on that so they can drain without making a mess.  Using a slotted spoon, gently scoop the curds out and put them into the cups/molds.  Cover the molds with a paper towel just to keep out anything that might find its way in uninvited.  Leave this sitting on the counter for two days.  During this time, the remaining whey will drain out and you'll be left with a 1 to 1 1/2 inch round of soft goat cheese.  Remove from the mold and salt all surfaces lightly.  
My kids LOVE this with Wheat Thins... even my little two year old, Isaac, eats it....sans the Wheat Thins.  :D
It is such a neat process and very satisfying to know you've taken it from milking the goat to making cheese.  All natural and farm fresh!!!  

The whey has separated from the curd and is floating on top - now isn't that just fascinating??  :D
 The curds after being scooped into the cups.

 Side view - notice the drilled holes - and you can see the level of the curds at this point.  The finished cheese will be a little less than half that size. 

The finished product!!!  Yummy!!!  :D


  1. That is the coolest thing ever!!!

  2. This. Is. AWESOME! Thank you! We've had more bucklings than does born this season and I've wanted to make real rennet-this is perfect. Thanks for the information!