August 4, 2014

National Goat Cheese Month and Lemon Cheese


August is National Goat Cheese Month. As a way to participate, I'm making a different kind of cheese from goat milk every week - some I've made before and some that are new to me. The kind folks at Hoegger Supply Company, my favorite place to buy goat supplies, said that sounded like fun! They have provided the cheese cultures and other supplies I'll be using. My many thanks go out to them.

My Nubian dairy goats - Phoenix, Ziva, Firefly, and Felicity - are providing the milk I'll be using to make the cheese. (Don't you love those ears?)


The first cheese I ever attempted to make years ago was farmer's cheese, also known as lemon cheese. It's an easy-to-make soft cheese that requires just milk and lemon juice. Some versions use vinegar instead of lemon juice; I've tried both but I prefer the taste of the cheese made with lemon. Lemon cheese doesn't require molding or aging. You can add herbs for more flavor if you wish.


The directions I used called for:
1/2 gallon (two quarts) of whole milk
Juice from 2-3 lemons, about 1/4 cup
Cheese salt (optional)
Herbs (optional)


I used 2 quarts of whole, raw goat milk. I poured it into the pot, and attached my candy thermometer with the attached clip. I was careful to not let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom of the pot; I wanted to measure the heat of the milk, not the pan. I heated the milk to 185°F, stirring occasionally so it wouldn't scorch. When it reached the right temperature, I moved the pot off the heat.

I poured in the 1/4 cup of lemon juice, stirred gently once around the pot, covered it, and set the oven timer for 15 minutes. Like breadmaking, cheesemaking has a lot of waiting time. It's good for developing patience.

Curds and whey have separated.

The directions said that I should be able to see a definite separation of the curds and whey after 15 minutes, but if I did not, I should add the juice of another lemon and wait again. I didn't think the separation was obvious enough, so I added more lemon juice and waited another 15 minutes. This time I was able to see that the curds and whey had separated. I'm always on pins and needles until this point, when I know it worked.


Next, I gently moved the curds into a strainer lined with Plyban cheesecloth. Goat curds are fragile, so handle with great care. I scooped them out with a measuring cup and poured them into the strainer.

You can let the whey go down the sink drain, but it's good for so many other things that I catch it in a bowl. I use it to make ricotta cheese, to bake with, and so much more. Some cheesemakers feed the whey to their pigs and chickens. My chickens turn up their noses at it; they don't know what they're missing.


I gathered the corners of the cheesecloth together and made a knot with a rubber band, and then stuck the handle of a plastic spoon through the knot. The handle lays across the top of a pitcher, and holds the cheesecloth bag and curds inside the pitcher so that the whey can drain off. Let it drain for an hour or so, until the curds stop draining. 


The final step is to remove the cheese from the cheesecloth, and add cheese salt and herbs if desired. I added 1/8 teaspoon of salt and then tasted it; that was plenty. (Don't use iodized table salt, it will ruin your cheese.)


If you like a drier cheese, just drain it longer. We like it a little creamier. I've used it like cream cheese and also like ricotta. Lemon cheese with added herbs makes a great dip for crackers or chips. 

It's really satisfying to make your own cheese, like baking your own bread or gazing at a dozen jars of peaches that you canned yourself. What great skills to have, and it lessens your dependence on the grocery store. Need cheese? Make some!


Disclosure: The supplies for this series on goat cheese were provided by 
Hoegger Supply Company.


National Goat Cheese Month
Week One - Lemon Cheese - this post
Week Two - Ricotta
Week Three - Mozzarella
Week Four - Chèvre

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.

~~~~~

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17 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:26 AM

    Gorgeous photos. Your directions are so straight-forward and easy to understand. You make it seem so simple that even I could do it!

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  2. Thank you - and it IS easy. You could do this!

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  3. Anonymous3:30 PM

    I like the way you explained your steps. For example, you told us why we need to make sure not to touch the thermometer to the bottom of the pan. It was also good to know that we can't use iodized salt. That is certainly something that I wouldn't have known - and I sure would have hated to ruin the batch because of something so simple.

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  4. I've ruined my share of things because I didn't know something! I want to save others that disappointment. Thank you so much for stopping by.

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  5. Going to have to do this. :D LOVE those Nubian ears!!!

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  6. Let us know how it turns out, Rose! The long-eared "girls" say hi.

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  7. We have done this with vinegar but I didn't know you could with lemons! Thanks for sharing this... We have a lemon tree and goats so this would be a FREE cheese, my favorite kind :) Thanks for linking up with the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week. Please join us again ;)

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  8. Kathi I sure wish you lived closer so I could get my husband to try fresh goat milk. I know if I could get him to try it fresh he would change his mind about having goats!

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  9. I'm sure he would, Tracy! Goat milk has a bad reputation but it tastes so good when it's fresh and well-handled!

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  10. Jes, I love free stuff too! Making something delicious with things you already have is a wonderful thing.

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  11. I am pinning this and saving for later :)
    Thanks for sharing your recipe!

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  12. You're welcome, Sandra.

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  13. This looks delicious and you make it look so easy! I'm still waiting on goats on our farm, but once we get them, I know I'll be making these cheese recipes you'll be posting for the month! And of course, we're getting Nubians, because they're so darn cute, and I LOVE their ears! :)

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  14. Nubians are a wonderful breed, Mary; if you get some, I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I do. Thank you for stopping by!

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  15. yum! This is similar to how I make Riccata cheese. It is so easy. Thanks so much for sharing such a great tutorial at Simple Lives Thursday; we hope to see you again this week.

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  16. I can't wait to try this recipe with our goat milk! I've picked your post as my favorite for From The Farm Blog Hop, thank you for contributing - you'll be featured this Friday :)

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  17. Lesa, thank you for choosing this post to feature this week!

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