It’s incredibly easy, and so much fun when you get to meet and play with the happy goats who provided the milk.
One morning not too long ago, I got up at an unreasonable hour and waited impatiently for a very important call. Shortly afterwards, I had taken a hat shower, grabbed my camera, donned my rubber boots, and was out the door on an adventure with my friend Rebecca and newly-met Shari. A short drive to a secret location barely outside the city limits, and I was soon grateful for those boots as we slogged through the remnants of an earlier rain towards a small green building full of white gold.
First we were greeted by an assortment of 4-legged ladies who were very curious about what treats we might be bringing them.
Then our human hosts made themselves known and invited us inside their sanctuary. The owners of this little farm treated us to their knowledge of the craft we were about to attempt, as well as delicious little slices of ambrosia in the form of a handcrafted aged white cheddar. Such wonderful and hospitable women they are!
After taking a mini-tour of the rest of the farm and making a couple new friends, we headed back home with our treasure: 2 gallons of incredibly fresh raw goat’s milk.
Later that evening, the three of us reconvened in Rebecca’s gorgeous kitchen to start our project. Rebecca is an experienced cheesemaker and she started us with one of the simplest cheeses, Chevre.
From this site on French Cheeses:
About ChÃ¨vre: “Pur chÃ¨vre” on the label ensures that the cheese is made entirely from goat’s milk. ChÃ¨vre in French simply means goat. ChÃ¨vre cheeses come in a variety of sizes and shapes including cones, cylinders, discs, drums, and pyramids. The cheeses are often covered with ash or leaves, herbs or pepper.
ChÃ¨vre making: In the 8th century, the Saracens came to the west of France and left behind the goats and the recipe to make the goat cheese.
Tasting ChÃ¨vre: When young, ChÃ¨vre is mild and creamy. When older, the cheese is dry and firm with a slightly sharp and lightly acidic flavor.
Tasting advices: Store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Is a fine combination with French bread, avocado, olives or figs. ChÃ¨vre is used in salads, omelets, pizza toppings and souffles.
For Chevre, all we needed to do was heat the fresh goat’s milk over the stove to the required temperature, stir in the powdered “starter”, and then wait. And wait. And wait.
The chevre sat in Rebecca’s kitchen overnight, at which point she divided it up into cheesecloth bundles and let it begin the draining process.
Basically, the chevre is made from the “curds” of the milk, and the “whey” must be drained off. Since making chevre produces a large ratio of curds to whey, the draining is most simply done by letting the cheesecloth bundles hang over a bowl for a few more hours.
Once it’s drained sufficiently, you can add herbs or spices to your heart’s content. I’m adding rosemary to this batch since it’s what I’ve still got growing like mad in the yard. I also think sage would be excellent. You can basically eat it immediately, or it will last for a little over a week in the fridge.
This was such a great experiment, I can’t tell you how awesome it was to learn this skill, and to get to meet the happy little goats who provided us with the milk. I felt so satisfied at the end of the day!