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How to Make Goat Cheese

June 10, 2009

It’s been a long time in coming, but it’s finally here!  How to make your own goat cheese.

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It looks like a lot of equipment, but most of it is stuff you have around anyways.  The jar is Mott’s Applesauce.  It’s the best jar I’ve found for doing this.  The neck is just the right size for the ponytail holder and it’s exactly the right size to do a single quart of goat’s milk.  The “cheesecloth” is actually a piece of unbleached muslin, which I keep in a little bag in the pantry.  It does the job just fine.

There’s a funny story behind that spatula.  When Squishy and I were living together, one of us bought those in HEB.  When she moved out, I couldn’t remember which one of us it had been.  So I figured I could get more and tossed them in with her stuff.  And then when I was in HEB a bit later, I picked up another set.  Okay, so maybe it’s only funny to me.  There’s three in different sizes and I use them a lot.  The smallest one is just the right size to fit down into the mouth of the jar.

Materials

18” square of extra fine weave cheesecloth
42 oz glass jar
Large cook pan
2 quart Corningware Pan with lid
Tongs
Spatula
Tablespoon measure
3 magnetic clips
Ponytail holder (unused)
Ziploc container
Glad Press N’ Seal
Not shown:
Large ladle
Small plate
Stove
Teaspoon measure

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Ingredients

1 quart goat milk
3 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper

The goat milk is turned upside down because the milk fat tends to settle and stick to the bottom of the carton.  Since the fat is what I really want, I shake it up really well and then let it sit like this while I get everything else ready.  This picture is from the second batch, which used my traditional recipe.  The first batch used pomegranate blush vinegar and green pepper.  It was much milder when I first made it, so I was a little disappointed, but it aged well.  This batch didn’t get salted nearly enough.

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Everything gets boiled.  The tongs, the magnets, the cloth, everything.  The more stuff you can sterilize, the less likely you are to have accidental transference of something which will use your lovely cheese to make less than lovely critters.  I use the magnetic clips to hang up the cloth and the ponytail holder so that they can dry out.  The vent hood works great for this, so long as it gets bleached ahead of time.  Not right beforehand, though.  Otherwise you have bleach on the edge of your cloth and risk getting bleach flavored cheese.  Yuck.

By the way?  Try not to pour out the water from the jar too quickly.  A trip to the emergency room does not make for good cheese.

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Add the milk to your Corningware pot, and put on over medium high heat until the milk boils.  In theory, I suppose you can do this in a metal pot, but I like the Corningware.  Less metallic aftertaste.  You’ll need to stir this pretty frequently, using the spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan.  Otherwise you’ll get burned milk and that’s never tasty.

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Once you’ve got boiling milk, turn the element off, but don’t move the pan.  Add your vinegar.  The milk will immediately curdle, resulting in curds and whey.  You’ll need to keep stirring for a bit, because the curds and whey will tend to develop big bubbles which will explode out, getting curdled milk everywhere.  Once that stops happening, let it sit for another 5 minutes or so until the curds begin to settle out.

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While your curds are settling out, make yourself a drip jar.  Pinch the center of the cheesecloth and tuck it into your jar.  Use the ponytail holder to secure the cloth and make a little pouch.  The bottom of the pouch should be far enough up to keep the whey from getting back inside once the whole quart is in the jar.  This one takes a bit of practice.  Don’t worry, it’s easy to tighten the cloth up.

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The most boring part of making cheese: Pouring the curds into your drip jar.  If you get impatient (like I do), you can use the spatula to gently scrape the bottom of the bag and move the solids which will collect there.  Try not to do this when your whey is close to the bag, as you don’t want to accidentally dip the bag down into the whey.

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Once everything is in, put your small plate on top and let this sit for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the consistency you want from your cheese.  The longer you let it drip, the firmer your cheese will be.

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This batch was for spreading, so I wanted a slightly moister cheese.  At this point, I add my salt and pepper.  You can also add fresh herbs, red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, whatever.Get creative!

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Take the ponytail holder off, gather up the corners of your cloth, and pull your cheese out, gently rocking the bag back and forth to free it.  Ignore my horrible nails.  I usually do.

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Ball the curds up and use your hands to press out more whey.

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Ta da!  Cheese!  Scrape as much as you can off of the cloth and into the Ziplock container.  Press the cheese down to get all the air bubbles out, and then use a square of the Press N’ Seal to cover the exposed top.  This keeps the cheese from drying out too quickly.

The original recipe assumed that you would be working with cow’s milk, but as you can see, goat milk does just fine.  I have yet to attempt any other kind of milk.

Before storing your cheesecloth, be sure to rinse it out and boil it again.  You really don’t want anything growing on your cloth between cheese making sessions.

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