Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Goat Cheese Trifecta?

Thanks to other motivated cooks that I have been around since moving to the Osoyoos, cheese has become a bit of an interest. Well, cheese itself has always interested my pallet. What I mean to say is that making cheese has become an interest.

Now, I have only ventured into a few different areas of the cheese making world. I suppose that the first fermented milk item that most cooks learn to make is Creme Fraiche. From there I went to yogurt. That leap took about 8yrs. So for me, the world of cheese has always been looked at from afar. However, once I was talked into making yogurt a month or so ago by a wonderful friend in Oliver, the wheels were set into motion. I can not and will not claim to be any sort of expert or even a reliable source of information for making cheese. This is merely an early attempt at becoming a good cheese maker.

For many cheeses you will need to invest some serious time and money into the production and safe storage needed to make aged cheeses. Lucky for us there are all sorts of cheeses that can be made and eaten immediately. what I tried to do was make chevre, feta and goats ricotta all with the same batch of goats milk. How is this possible? Let me explain.

From the goats milk it is easy to get the chevre, once you have chevre you can press it for a good long time, squeezing out as much of the whey as possible, you can brine that pressed chevre in salted whey to make feta. With the remaining whey(just like making cows milk ricotta from whey left over from mozza production) it should be possible to coax the remaining milk solids out of the whey to make the goats ricotta. Seems simple enough.

To start I took 2L of goats milk and heated it up to 86F then wisked in about a tbsp of buttermilk and took off the heat to cool. About an hour or so later I added half a tab of dissolved rennet, wisked, covered and let sit overnight. In the morning I awoke to a solid mass of curds and a bunch of whey.

Now you slice the curds by going across, then down, then diagonal, then diagonal in the other direction.

Let the curd sit for 15 or so minutes then gently stir them up with a very clean hand and arm.

Pour the curds and whey into a strainer lined with cheese cloth or J cloths or even a fine rag. Let most of the whey drain out, then tie and hang for 4 or more hours, or until no liquid is dripping. This can be done out at room temperature or in the fridge if you have the space.

Once the curds have been strained you can dump them out into a bowl and season lightly with salt. If you want your chevre it be a little on the moister side you are done right here. If you want have a firmer, drier chevre and you also want to make some feta, you will need to press the curds.

Have fun inventing your cheese press. It took a while for me to get this one working properly, its easy enough though. Anyhow, press the cheese and continually drain the whey. Once there is very little whey coming out your good to go.

Turn out your cheese and enjoy your chevre. I took half of it, cut it into a few blockish pieces and then used them for feta.

For the feta, take the whey and make a brine with it. The brine must be acidic(accomplished by letting it sit out overnight in the first stage) or the cheese will melt in the whey. It must also be salty(12.5%). For the 300ml of whey I used to brine, there was 2.5tbsp of salt in it. The longer you brine the feta, the drier and crumblier it gets.

As for the ricotta, I tried my best and did get some ricotta. However, because of the small volume of whey I had to work with and the even smaller amount of milk solids in that whey, my total yield of ricotta was about 3tsp. Bummer. The ricotta is simple though. Heat the whey up to 180F and hold it there for about 20min, then add a little lemon juice and vinegar. Shut off the heat and let it cool, then strain through cheese cloth. Hey, ricotta. You can do this same process with milk in order to get a much higher yield.

So, all in all I think the experiment was a success. All three cheeses are tasty, the feta will only get better as it sits in brine. Now that I've made the first blog step how about someone who actually knows a little bit more gets on here and gives me some tips.

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful thing.

    Promote the Goat!

    Make Cheese!

    I ask you: Would the experience of tending a goat, milking a goat and making various cheeses from that milk be an asset or a liability for you as chef?

    Would you, as a chef, embrace or shun a facility where you could exchange your labor for the cows/goats/sheep's milk?

    How about as a consumer: if you were presented with "house made cheese from whole, raw, goat/cow/sheep milk" on a menu, would you order it or would you call the authorities and warn the other patrons of the dangers of milk straight from the cow?

    p.s. the feta was dee-lish