Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cheese Making

I had the opportunity to get some extra raw goat's milk recently. I don't like wasting anything, so I decided, I learned how to make mozarella, I can learn how to make Chevre.  I ordered the culture here:

While Mozarella is a relatively quick process, Chevre takes some time, and I found the timing of it can be a bit of a nuisance.

First, you need to pasteurize the milk.When you buy most cows milk, they pasteurize it at a high temperature, making it hard for the protiens to connect (ie: make cheese).  Pasteurization for a longer time at a lower temperature is just as affective, and doesn't harm the protiens.
(yes, that's a milk thermometer in there.  Milk has to be done in something stainless steel, or glass, or enamel.  you REALLY don't want to try aluminum). Bring your gallon of milk up to 145* for 1/2 an hour.  If you go a bit over, that's okay, but you really don't want to go over 172*.

After the half hour, you will need to drop the temperature down to 86*. (If you wonder about the uneven temperature, I do too.  I just know that's what it needs to be.) Add in the packet of culture, cover it, and LEAVE IT ALONE.  Set it on the back of the counter for 12 hours.

Remember I said the timing was sort of a nuisance? Well, if you were to do this at 4 in the afternoon, would you want to be up at 4 am to do the next stage?   Really think this out when you plan on making it.

When  12 hours are up, you will see a seperation in the curds and whey. The curd will look like a creamy jello texture under the whey, and will pull away from the sides of the pan if you shimmy it.
Carefully scoop this into a strainer lined with butter muslin.  I know, I thought cheesecloth would do it too, but the weave is too open.  I haven't tried 4-6 layers, but it might do in a pinch.  Butter muslin I usually use 2 layers, but when I did a double batch I used only one and it did fine.  You want to get all the curds out into the muslin.
Now you're going to pull all the muslin together into a bag. I found using a rubber band worked fine, and I made a hanger with other elastics to hang from my cabinets over my sink.  You will want to let this hang for 4-8 hours. The longer it hands, the drier (and therefore more crumbly) it will be.

It also depends on how humid the weather is (I found that out the hard way.)  I have had batches be more 'goatier' than others. I haven't found an official reason, but I believe when it was setting, it was a bit warmer that day. Might be an additional reason to let the culture set over will be cooler.

When you take this down, you can put it in a glass bowl and add a bit of pickling or cheese salt. (fine ground, no iodine.  Sea or kosher salt might work if it was fine enough.)  This part is really a matter of taste.  I started with a tablespoon...and sometimes its good, sometimes it needs a bit more.

Put the cheese on a piece of wax paper. I found the best size is about a third the cheese.  If you want to know the easy way to 'roll' your cheese, check out where I learned it.  Alton Brown explained how to do this with butter.
Start at the 8 minute mark.  He used a cookie sheet, but I'll use anything that's long enough with a flat edge (butter knife, for example)  This is what it would look like.

Now, you can see colors. You can roll your cheese in various herbs. This one was rolled in dill and the other side was rolled in lemon zest.  Other popular flavors are french herbes or cracked black pepper. (I like mine plain usually).

This will make approximately a pound and a half and will stay good for 7 days.  I usually have to freeze some of it. It will freeze well, but won't be so good for munching, but still good for use in recipes and dips.


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