Getting started making goat cheese? Try these recipes first!
If you’ve never made cheese, start with the quick & easy cheeses that need minimal equipment and ingredients and are ready to eat fairly quickly. Once you’ve mastered a few easy cheeses, you may want to move to pressed and aged cheeses. These vary in complexity and aging time; I’ve included a few relatively simple and quick options. We’ll look at some more complicated pressed and aged cheeses in a future article.
Quick & Easy Cheeses: A Great Place to Start
Chévre: Soft Fresh Goat Cheese
- Heat 1 gallon of goat milk in large stainless steel pot to 72F.
- Sprinkle 1/8 tsp mesophilic culture* on the milk. Let sit for a minute or two to hydrate then stir in. Let it sit at room temperature to “ripen” for 2 hours.
- Dilute 2 drops of rennet in ¼ cup non-chlorinated water and stir gently into ripened milk.
- Cover pot and let sit at room temp for 12-20 hours.
- Gently ladle the curds into fine cheese cloth (butter muslin). Tie up cloth and hang over a sink or tie on the handle of a large pot and let the whey drain for about 12 hours.
- Your cheese is done! You can add approximately ¼ tsp kosher or non-iodized sea salt, and/or add herbs or other flavors.
- Eat within 2 weeks and/or freeze for several months!
* You can substitute 1-2 tbsp cultured buttermilk or homemade sour cream for the mesophilic culture, if desired.
Feta: Dry Salted, Brined, or Marinated
Recipe #1: Dry Salted Feta
- Heat 1 gallon of goat milk in large stainless pot to 70F.
- Sprinkle ¼ tsp mesophilic culture onto the milk and continue heating to 86F; stir culture into milk, cover and let ripen at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Mix 1/2 tsp liquid rennet into 1/4 cup cool non-chlorinated water; stir into milk; let sit 1 hour.
- Cut curds with long knife into 1-inch cubes; let rest 5 minutes.
- Stir curds while keeping at 86F for 15 minutes.
- Ladle into cheesecloth and hang to drain for 6-8 hours.
- Take out of bag and cut slices approx. 1 inch thick. Place on flat dish and sprinkle all sides with kosher salt.
- Cover plate with a paper towel and let set at room temperature for 24 hours, turning 2 or 3 times and salting each side again. Drain liquid each time.
- Refrigerate for 5-7 days.
- Eat within 2 weeks or freeze
Recipe #2: Brined Feta
- Heat 1 gallon of goat milk in large stainless pot to 70F.
- Sprinkle ¼ tsp mesophilic culture onto milk and continue heating to 90F; stir culture into milk.
- Mix ½ tsp liquid rennet into ¼ cup cool non-chlorinated water; stir into milk; cover and let sit for 30-45 minutes.
- Cut curd into hazelnut-sized pieces.
- Slowly stir for 15 minutes; let sit for 5 minutes or until curds settle.
- Remove the whey until you can see the curds.
- Scoop the curds into baskets, filling them and topping off again.
- Flip the cheeses 6 times over the next 24 hours.
- Rub with non-iodized sea salt or kosher salt and let sit another 24 hours.
- Put cheese in a 10% brine (6 ½ ounces salt to ½ gallon water).
- Leave in brine for one month (pasteurized milk) or two months (raw milk) at 50-55F.
Recipe #3: Marinated Feta
Using finished feta from either of the above recipes, cut or break cheese into small pieces. Layer cheese and herbs into a jar. You can use fresh herbs, dried herbs, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. Cover with olive oil. Any cheese that is completely submerged in oil will stay fresh for several weeks to several months.
(While cottage cheese is traditionally made with cow milk, it’s also a delicious goat milk cheese!)
- Pour 1 gallon of milk into a stainless steel pot. Heat milk to 75F.
- Sprinkle ¼ tsp mesophilic culture on milk; let hydrate then stir into milk.
- Optional: dilute ¼ tsp of calcium chloride in ¼ cup non-chlorinated water and add to warm milk.
- Dilute ¼ tsp liquid rennet or ¼ tablet of rennet (pulverized) in ¼ cup of non-chlorinated water and add to milk.
- Cover pot and let sit for 3 hours at room temperature (if room is cool, you might set the pot in a warm water bath or put in a cooler to help hold the temperature).
- Using a big whisk, carefully break the curds up into pea-sized pieces. Let curds rest for 5 minutes.
- Slowly warm the curds to 105F while stirring gently.
- When the curds are firm, pour them into a cheese cloth-lined strainer.
- Rinse the curds gently under cold water until the curds are cold.
- Place the curds in a bowl, add non-iodized salt to taste (approx. ¼-½ tsp) and add milk or cream until you get the creaminess you desire (approx. 1/3 – ½ cup).
- Best eaten fresh but you can store in refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Intro to Pressed & Aged Cheeses: When you’re ready to tackle a little bit more
Queso fresco is a Latin American quick farm cheese. It requires a cheese press (or improvise with weights or buckets) but no aging is needed.
- Heat 1 gallon of milk to 70F, then add ½ packet (or 1/8 tsp) mesophilic culture.
- Let the culture hydrate for a couple of minutes then stir and heat to 90F.
- Add 1/8 tsp liquid rennet (or 1/8 tablet) diluted in 1/8 cup cool, non-chlorinated water. Stir for 1 minute.
- Allow to set for 30-45 minutes, or until the curd gives a clean break.
- Cut the curd into ¼-inch cubes.
- Over the next 20 minutes, gradually increase the temperature to 95F, stirring gently every few minutes to keep curds from matting.
- Let the curds set, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.
- Drain off the whey.
- Add 1 tbsp non-iodized salt and maintain the curds at 95F for 30 minutes longer (you can set the pot in a sink of warm water to help maintain temperature).
- Line a cheese form with cheesecloth and fill with the curds. (Variation: you can add fresh chopped or dried herbs or chopped canned jalapeno peppers at this stage, if you like.)
- Press at 8-10 pounds of pressure for 6 hours.
- Remove the cheese from the form and enjoy now. Store any leftovers in a covered container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
Guido’s Italian Hard Cheese
This recipe is adapted from a recipe submitted by a home cheesemaker, Guido Giuntini, to the Home Cheese Making book by Ricki Carroll. It’s a nice Italian hard cheese that is very easy to make and uses minimal equipment along with a short aging time. You can use any milk to make this recipe but I especially love making goat milk cheese!
- Heat 1 gallon of milk to 70F, then add ½ packet (or 1/8 tsp) of thermophilic starter culture.
- Allow culture to hydrate for a few minutes then stir into milk and continue heating to 90F. Let set 30 minutes.
- Dilute ½ tsp of liquid rennet (or ½ pulverized rennet tablet) in ¼ cup cool non-chlorinated water and add to the ripened milk. Stir and let set for 15 minutes.
- Cut the curd with a long knife into ¼-inch cubes.
- Stirring frequently, slowly heat curds to 120F over a period of 30-40 minutes.
- Line a cheese form (or cheese baskets) with cheesecloth, set into a bowl or pot, and ladle curds into the form. Each cheese basket will hold ½ gallon milk so you can stack 2 baskets, then put a third on top with a weight on it.
- Set the form’s follower (or another basket) onto the cheese, add a can if necessary for height, and put a 2-3 pound weight on top. Wait 15 minutes.
- Take the cheese out of the form, unwrap, turn over, rewrap and put back in the form with the weight on top. Do this once or twice until the rind of the cheese wheel has closed.
- Once the rind is closed, let the cheese set with a 2-pound weight for 12-24 hours.
- Combine 1/4 pound (approx. 4 oz) of non-iodized salt with 1 quart (4 cups) of water to make a brine solution. Remove cheese from the form and place in the brine solution. Let set for about 12 hours, turning the wheel at the halfway point (more time for bigger wheels, less for smaller wheels).
- Remove cheese from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Let air dry for a few days at room temperature, turning once or twice a day until outer edges are all dry to the touch. At this point, you can wax it or allow it to age with a natural rind.
- Place the cheese on a cheese mat, in a container, in a cool place for 3 weeks (a dorm fridge turned to the warmest temp. approx. 50-55 degrees, works well for a DIY cheese cave).
- For the first week, turn the cheese once a day. After that, turn it every few days.
- At three weeks (or longer), slice the cheese and enjoy. Guido recommends serving it as an after-dinner treat with a bit of honey on top and a class of Chianti!
Goat Journal contributor Kate Johnson is the founder and lead instructor of The Art of Cheese – an artisan home-cheesemaking school located in Longmont, Colorado.
Originally published in the March/April 2018 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.