Chèvre Cheese

August is National Goat Cheese Month. I've 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've been 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 chèvre cheese. The French word for goat is chèvre, and this is a true goat cheese. Strangely enough, although I've owned goats for over twelve years, I've never made chèvre before. I decided this was the time to do it. I used the recipe on the Hoegger website.

Chèvre is a soft cheese that can be substituted for cream cheese. I don't use cream cheese much in my kitchen, but that's partly because I don't ever think to buy it. This could open up a whole new world for me - cheesecake! It's also a very easy cheese to make, it just takes some time, most of which is spent waiting.

To make chèvre you need:
5 quarts milk - I used raw, whole, goat milk
Liquid rennet
Mesophylic cheese culture
Cheese salt (optional)

Equipment needed:
Stockpot that holds at least 6 quarts
Long spoon

I started with 5 quarts of cold, raw goat milk. I poured it into my sterilized stainless steel stockpot and heated it to 86°F. While the milk was heating up, I measured 1/3 cup of filtered water into a small bowl and added 3 drops of liquid rennet, and set it aside until needed.

When the milk reached 86°, I removed it from the stovetop and added 1/8 teaspoon of direct set mesophylic cheese culture. I stirred once around the pot, then added 2 Tablespoons from the diluted rennet in the bowl and stirred again. The rest of the diluted rennet was discarded. I set the pot of milk on the back of the stove and left it overnight. The directions suggest letting it sit for 8-12 hours.

In the morning, 10 hours later, the top of the liquid was a smooth layer of curds.  With a ladle I carefully moved the curds to a cheesecloth-lined strainer.

The curds nearly filled the pot, all the way to the bottom - there were a lot of them - and I had to move them to a larger piece of cheesecloth in a bowl because the cheesecloth-lined strainer I was using wasn't large enough to hold all the curds.

I tied up the corners of the cheesecloth as I usually do, but the ball of curds was much too large to fit in the pitcher where I usually drain cheeses. I left it in the strainer in a bowl to drain for several hours, then when the ball was smaller I hung it in the pitcher.

The directions say to let the whey drain off for 8-10 hours, and that the cheese is ready when it has the consistency of cream cheese. I let mine drain for 9 hours. It's a little drier than I'd like, so next time I will check it earlier. Yield: a little over 32 ounces (2 pounds). This is a very productive cheese.

As well as using it like cream cheese, this cheese can be seasoned with herbs and spread on crackers or crusty bread.

How easy is that? Need some cream cheese? Make some chèvre!

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

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


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