by Alice Hall – Have you ever thought about making goat’s cheese? A person doesn’t have to be raising goats very long before they start wondering what to do with all the surplus milk. Even here at Hallcienda, where our winter milk supply comes from one of our Nubian goats and four Pygmy goats, we sometimes get behind in milk consumption. Making goat’s cheese is a delicious, nutritious conservative way to use surplus milk.
Making goat’s cheese (or any cheese, for that matter) is time-consuming and sometimes tricky, but if done correctly, the results are worth all the effort. One of the benefits of goat milk is being able to make many different types of cheese with it. Generally, a gallon of milk yields a pound of cheese. Cheese should not be made in galvanized or aluminum pans. Differences in cheese come mostly from the way the curd is cut and handled. The temperature during processing is vital when you’re making goat’s cheese, and must be watched closely. Instructions on most cheeses indicate the milk should be heated slowly. From room temperature, it should take about half an hour to heat milk to 100°F.
Some cheeses can be successfully frozen for later use. Whey, the byproduct of cheese, can also be used. It is rich in B vitamins, but it can be highly laxative. Whey can also be used to make Ricotta cheese. Limburger cheese is made of putrefied milk.
Different cheeses use different starters. Buttermilk starter is Streptococcus Lactis. Yogurt comes from Lactobacillus bulgaris and leuconasta. Blue cheese is made with Penicillin roquerforti and Camembert is from Penicillin camemberti.
Many cheese recipes for making goat’s cheese call for rennin, or rennet. This is an extract from a calf’s stomach and is a natural milk curdler. Junket tablets contain rennet, but larger dosages of junket must be used to get the same results.
However, there are some simple cheeses that any goat owner can make without fancy starters or rennet. One of my favorites is cottage cheese.
Natural Cottage Cheese
- 1 gallon milk
- Juice of 2 lemons (about ½ cup)
- 6 tablespoons cream (optional)
- Heat milk to 86°F slowly and add the juice of two lemons, or about ½ cup.
- Cool until it can be handled.
- Drain, rinse and salt if desired, and add cream.
- Use fresh as you would any cottage cheese.
Basic cheese recipe
- Heat your milk to 86°F. Add ¼ rennet tablet (follow instructions on package and reheat.)
- Cut your curds.
- Stir the curd to break it into smaller pieces and reheat.
- Drain the curd into a cheese-cloth-lined colander.
- Let the whey drain from the curds. (Save the whey for your animals—they love this!)
- Let drain until no more whey drips from the curds, then place in the cheese press.
- When no more whey drips from the hanging cheese, wrap it in cheesecloth, place in the press (8) and cover the bricks or weights to remove the remaining whey (9).
- Remove the cheese from the press and remove the cheesecloth.
- Rinse your cheese and enjoy!
(From Mrs. Ira Peel)
- 1 gallon milk
- 6 eggs
- 1 quart thick, sour milk or cream
- Heat gallon of milk to boiling point. Add the mixture of eggs and sour milk or cream.
- Boil and stir until it curdles, then strain and salt. Shape and press 24 hours. (Use cheesecloth to shape.) Eat fresh.
How you press cheese at home is a uniquely individual matter. Some people get fancy and use cheese presses for making goat’s cheese, others use plates or cutting boards with books, pails of water or weights stacked on top. There are no hard and fast rules on pressing, as long as at least 15 pounds of pressure is maintained. Shape can be a problem if you don’t have a cheese press.
Jalapeño or Pepper Cheese
(From Roger McAdoo)
- 1 gallon milk
- ¼ cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 ounces diced Jalapeño peppers (or green chilies)
- 1-1/2 ounces diced olives
- 1 ounce chopped pimento
- 1 clove chopped garlic
- Slowly heat milk to boiling. Add vinegar, let stand until curd forms, strain and drain off the whey.
- To curd, add salt, pepper, olives, pimento and garlic.
- Press. It’s so good, it’s not around long enough to age!
Unheated Cottage Cheese
- 1 gallon milk
- ¼ cup starter* or buttermilk
- ¼ rennet tablet
- Add starter to milk and let stand one-half to one hour at 72°F. Dissolve ¼ rennet tablet in warm water and add to milk. Let stand until curd forms enough to cut. Cut curd into quarter or half-inch cubes.
- Heat slowly to 100° F stirring constantly for the first 15 minutes. Hold at 100°F for another half hour.
- Dip whey off the top. Drain three minutes, wash in cold water and salt to taste. If desired, add 6 tablespoons cream.
- Refrigerate and eat fresh.
*Starter: Pasteurize ¾ pint milk 20 minutes at 145°F and cool quickly. Add 2 tablespoons yogurt and incubate at 72-85°F for 4 to 8 hours.
Follow the same procedure as the Unheated Cottage Cheese, except heat milk to 86°F. Use whole milk only and do not wash or add cream to the cheese. Cut and drain.
Press one day in cheese cloth mold. Use 15 pounds for 10 minutes, then 30 pounds for 10 minutes, then 60 pounds for the rest of the time. Eat fresh.
- Follow the same ingredients and instructions as for Unheated Cottage Cheese. (Add coloring for yellow cheese.)
- Cut curd to ¼-3/4 inch cubes. Let whey run off.
- Cheddar it by packing and matting the curd, handle it, compress it and let it hang. Cut fine and salt. Do not wash.
- Put in the mold with cheesecloth. Press as for Jack Cheese, but stop after 30 minutes at 60 pounds.
- Dress cheese, remove the cloth, smooth with warm water or vegetable oil. Leave no cracks and replace cheesecloth.
- Press at 60 pounds for 12-24 hours.
- To make rind, store at 55°F for 5 days. Rub with a dry towel. Use vinegar if mold forms.
- Coat with paraffin—210°F for 10 seconds, one side at a time.
- Store 2 months at 60°F for mild cheddar and up to 2 years for sharp cheddar. Seal in plastic if no rind is desired.
- Add blue cheese culture to one gallon milk and let stand for 30 minutes. Add rennet and follow Unheated Cottage Cheese directions.
- Cut and drain, do not mat.
- Press like cheddar in blocks or cylinders.
- Poke holes through cheese with wire to allow oxygen in to get blue veining and avoid external mold. Wipe occasionally to keep excess mold off the surface. Age several months.
- Use a copper kettle for brittle texture. Heat one gallon of milk to 90°F and add starter. Follow Unheated Cottage Cheese directions.
- Cut curd small and heat to 110°F for 20 minutes, then heat to 125°F for 25 minutes.
- Press in hoops for 20 hours at 30 to 40 minutes.
- Make brine of one cup salt per gallon water. Soak cheese in brine for two weeks to start drying. Store in 50-60°F room for 5 to 10 days. Store in 48-50°F room for 2 weeks or until sweating stops. Turn every day and oil every two days. Coat with combination vegetable oil, lamp black and Fuller’s earth. Age 14-24 months.
Actually, after learning about making goat’s cheese, a surplus of milk isn’t too bad! It’s just one of the many benefits of raising goats for milk.
What’s your favorite type of cheese to make from goat’s milk?
Originally published in 2003 and regularly vetted for accuracy.