August is National Goat Cheese Month. As a way to participate, I challenged myself to make a different kind of cheese from goat milk every week - some that 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 goats - Phoenix, Ziva, Firefly, and Felicity - are providing the milk I'm using to make the cheeses.
This week I made ricotta cheese. I've been making this for several years, but I've always been disappointed by the small yield. I was making whey ricotta, which means it was made using fresh whey left from making another cheese first. In essence, it was free cheese, made from leftovers. The small yield isn't really a surprise, since the original milk has already been used to make cheese and a lot of the milk solids are already gone.
Then I found a recipe for whole milk ricotta in a book entitled Cheese Making at Home and decided to change my ways. This recipe calls for:
1 gallon cold milk - I used raw whole goat milk
1 tsp citric acid
1 tsp cheese salt
I mixed all of the ingredients in the pot, and attached my thermometer to the side, making sure it didn't touch the bottom of the pot. My "big" pot only holds one gallon. I hoped the milk wouldn't go over the edge for some reason, but fortunately it didn't.
Over medium heat, I warmed the milk to 195°F. The directions said to stir occasionally so it wouldn't scorch, but that if it was stirred too much the curds would be too fine. I'm the kind of gal that likes to stir so this was hard for me, not knowing the fine point between "enough" and "too much".
It took awhile, but finally the thermometer reached 195°. The directions said I'd be able to see the separation between curds and whey, and sure enough, I could! I carefully moved the pot off the burner to set for the required five minutes. Goat curds are fragile, so you have to be gentle. That explains the "don't overstir" direction above.
After five minutes it looked very promising, much better than the whey ricotta I'd been making.
I put a colander in my largest bowl in the sink, and lined it with cheesecloth. I used a measuring cup to scoop up the curds and gently transfer them to the colander.
A better view of the curds and whey, after I'd scooped some out.
Curds in the cheesecloth-lined colander.
After the cheese drained a bit in the colander, I gathered the corners of the cheesecloth and used a rubberband to close it up into a bag. I put my spoon handle through the rubberband and rested the spoon on top of a pitcher. The cheese hung in the pitcher and I let it drain for about an hour. The longer you let it drain, the drier your cheese will be.
What beautiful cheese! From that one gallon of milk I made close to two pounds - TWO POUNDS - of ricotta cheese and had almost 3 quarts of whey left over. I used some of the whey to make bread, and I've found that the dogs and cats love the excess whey, so none goes to waste.
I'll be using this recipe for whole milk ricotta from now on, instead of the whey ricotta I used to make. The cheese has a great texture and makes a good amount from a gallon of milk. It was easy to make, and the lasagna I made for dinner with it was delicious. Need cheese? Make some!
National Goat Cheese Month
Week One - Lemon Cheese
Week Two - Ricotta - this post
Week Three - Mozzarella
Week Four - Chèvre
DISCLOSURE: The cheese cultures and supplies I'm using were supplied by
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a