Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tutorial: Making Homemade Goat Cheese

One of the projects that Sophia did this summer was learn how to make goat cheese. We visited Poplar Hill Dairy Goat Farm this past March with the 4-H Club, and both she and Olivia liked the goat milk and cheese.

We were able to see the baby goats (kids) that had recently been born.

The babies enjoyed getting the attention and were eager to show us some of their tricks - like hanging their front legs out of the tubs they were in.

We were also able to see the barns where the older goats were living. They were divided by age and gender.

The ones that we spent the most time with were the dairy goats.

Despite being pretty chilly outdoors (we visited the farm in March), it was comfortably warm indoors.

So, after the visit and enjoying at home more goat cheese that we purchased at Poplar Hill Dairy Goat Farm, Sophia wanted to see if she could make her own goat cheese. We looked on Pinterest and found two recipes. One pin led to Serious Eats and included a recipe to make a basic soft goat cheese.

To make it, you need the following ingredients:

1 quart goat milk (not ulta-pasturized)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
1/2 clove freshly grated garlic
A few pinches coarse salt
Herbs (optional and the choice used is what you prefer): Rosemary, parsley, fennel, dill, chives, herbs de Provence, and other non-herbs like dried apricots.

The first step was to squeeze the juice from the lemons.

Next, fill a medium saucepan with goat milk. Heat gradually until it reaches 180°F. Watch closely. It should take about 15 minutes.

Once it hits 180°F, remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Let it stand until the milk starts to curdle, about 20 seconds. Don't expect curdles, like cottage cheese curdles.

Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth. Place the colander over a large bowl to catch the whey drips.

Pour the milk into the colander. The instructions said to pull up and tie the four corners of the cheesecloth together and hang on the handle of a wooden spoon. However, Sophia didn't do this. She just let the whey drip through the cheesecloth.

When it was done (about 1 1/2 hours later), she tightened the cheesecloth to get the remaining whey out of the curds. There was quite a bit of whey by the time it finished dripping through the colander.

Transfer to a bowl and fold in salt, garlic, and flavors of your choice.

Serve on fresh bread, salads, or with fruit. The goat cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but after a few days, the consistency isn't as smooth and spreadable.

The second type of cheese Sophia made was ricotta. We found a recipe for it on a pin on Pinterest that led to the Huffington Post that could be made with their goat or cow milk.

To make this recipe, you need:

4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons distilled vinegar, fresh lemon or lime juice
1 green onion

Since Sophia had used lemon juice with the other recipe, we were interested in seeing if the vinegar affected the flavor.

The first step is to place the milk in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the salt and heat over medium heat. Stir occasionally so the milk doesn't scorch. Heat milk to 180ºF to 190ºF (82ºC to 88ºC). If you don't have a thermometer, heat the milk until it foams at the sides of the pan and starts simmering, but doesn't boil.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice as well as the green onion. Stir only a couple of times. Almost immediately, curds will start to form.

Do not stir any more or the curds will be disturbed. Let the mixture stand for five minutes.

Line a medium colander with cheesecloth and carefully pour the milk mixture onto the cheesecloth. Let drain for 5-20 minutes to the desired consistency. Draining for five minutes will give you a moist and creamy cheese. Draining for 20 minutes will give you a drier ricotta.

Transfer the ricotta to a container and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for up to seven days.

Both cheeses turned out well. However, we probably would not make them again. The girls preferred the harder goat cheese that was at Poplar Hill Dairy Goat Farm versus the soft versions at home. For some reason, the cheese we made had a stronger "goat flavor" than what Sophia and Olivia preferred to eat.

That being said, this was an interesting project to do and helped Sophia learn the cheese-making process. She entered the photographs and description of the process she went through in the county fair for a 4-H project and received a blue ribbon. 

1 comment:

Rita said...

That's something I have certainly never tried. Looks very interesting. But if you don't like soft cheese, I can see why the girls might not like it as much as hard cheese. Looked like it turned out well, though. :)