Making my own goats cheese!

Cheese is one of my favourite things in the world; I would rather sit down with a piece of cheese than a piece of chocolate.  I especially love a tangy crumbly goat’s cheese either as it comes, grilled or in food!

Last Christmas my dad got a book on making cheese and bought the kit to have a go.  Over the year he made some soft cheeses and a couple of cheddars, all of which all turned out pretty well.

While I was home this Christmas, I asked if we could get the kit out and have a go at making some goats cheeses this was something I had always wanted to try and my dad was happy to have a go.  Looking at the recipes, it turned out that the methods for making goats cheese were very different from those for cows milk cheeses and appeared to be more straight forward.

My goats milk

Suitably encouraged we cracked on.  The first thing we needed to do was to heat the 3 litres of milk  to 76°F (24.5°C).  To do this we made a large ban marie rather than applying direct heat to allow us more precision.

Adding the milk and heating it

With the milk at the correct temperature it was time to add the starter culture.  The quantities of starter are too small to measure on normal weighing scales (less than 1g each time).  The cheese making kit came with a sachet containing enough culture for 50 l litres of milk and my dad divides off the appropriate amount by eye.  With the approximate amount of starter separated off we put this in the milk and stirred.

Seperating the starter and mixing it in

Next up was the rennet.  The rennet is dissolved in water to be added and the amount required was far less than for cows milk.  Most of the cows milk recipes call for several drops of the rennet, but goat’s cheese only needed 1/5th of a drop. This was achieved by putting one drop in 5 tablespoons of water and then only adding one tablespoon of the mix to the milk.  After adding the rennet the mixture needed to be stirred vigorously!

Adding the rennet and stirring!

At this point, rather than having to try and keep the cheese at a constant temperature for a couple of hours using the ban marie like you need to for cows cheese (a very difficult task!) , we just had to leave the cheese to set.  This would take two days and the only condition was that the mixture shouldn’t be allowed to go over 72°F (22°C).  We covered the pot containing our millk and placed it in the nice cool utility room.

Leaving the mix to set

Coming back to the pot two days later I was pleased to see that the mix had indeed set!  The next thing to do was to get it into moulds in order to allow the whey to drain away.  The mix was very soft and the curds quite fragile, which reminded me of blancmange (I could see why you can’t cut the curds and drain the whey as you would with cows milk).  Getting the mix into the moulds was therefore quite difficult.

The curds and whey once the rennet has worked

Our kit had our small soft cheese moulds and one large press so rather than make four cheeses all the same I decided to add some flavouring to the small moulds.  I choose plain salt, lemon rind and ground black pepper, some chopped chives and something called spice mix for feta which my mum had brought back from Greece (it is for sprinkling on feta in salads and contained chilli, thyme, oregano and rosemary).  I left the mix in the large mould plain, but by the time I had filled it, the mix had small amounts of the other four flavouring that had fallen out of the holes of the smaller moulds.

The cheeses in the moulds

After an hour of so the mould had dropped quite a bit, and having plenty of mix left I topped them up some more.  Not wanting to waste my remaining curds and whey, I lined a sieve with muslin and poured in the rest of my mix.  The muslin was then gathered and squeezed to get rid of some of the whey before being hung over the sink to drip.

Starting the muslin cheese

The cheeses needed to be left for another two days during which time would shrink and become firmer as the whey drained away.  After a day we turned the small cheeses totally over (it would be impossible to do the large one!), to make sure as much whey as possible came out.  At this stage it became apparent that some of the cheeses were draining much better than others. In fact, the salted cheese was draining so badly that we didn’t even attempt to turn it but just tried to clear the draining holes.  The mix in the muslin had shrunk dramatically.

Turning the cheeses and the shrunken muslin cheese

After being left for the full two days (four days after I started this process!) it finally the moment of truth – time to reveal the final cheeses.  I laid out some cling film for each cheese and turned them out.  The feta mix was the firmest, followed by the lemon and black pepper and the slightly looser chive cheese. These small mould cheeses had a soft almost cream cheese texture. Unfortunately the salted cheese and the large cheese were disasters and didn’t hold together at all.  They sadly had to go in the bin. Thankfully the muslin cheese was a great success and was very solid and even crumbly!

The final cheeses!

So in the end my yield wasn’t great.  I got three small cheeses and the scraps from the muslin from three litres of milk.  Despite the small amount I was still very pleased with them.  It may have taken four days but I was really chuffed with the end result, as the small cheeses had really taken on the flavours that had been added. They were great on crackers or mixed through pasta.  The muslin cheese was more like the goats cheese you can buy in the shops and although it could have done with a bit of salt was nice to nibble on.  I may not be making cheese again anytime soon but it was a lovely family activity for the break!


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5 Responses to “Making my own goats cheese!”

  1. Janice Says:

    Food is obviously a family obession! Great looking cheese, I love a bit of cheese, not so keen on really goaty cheese, but the milder stuff is really good.

  2. Ondrew Says:

    You must be the adventuresome type to have attempted this at all. Job well done. You learned a lot and ended up with something to enjoy. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Lucy Says:

    WOW! You are so clever (and lucky to have such a lovely dad)!

  4. Wendy Says:

    Rhi! How wonderful! What a great post… and how clever (I’m liking your Dad’s cleverness with getting the fifth of a drop) … and what a great thing to do over Christmas.

  5. Joe Mathers Says:

    hello really enjoying the blog I will keep up to date! I love all the detail I will tell my friends!!

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