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 wonder what to do with 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 the effort. One goat milk benefit is the ability to make many different types of cheese. Differences come mostly from the way the curd is cut and handled. 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.
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.
Generally, a gallon of milk yields a pound of cheese. It should not be made in galvanized or aluminum pans. 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.
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 are necessary for making cheese. Purchase actual cheesemaking rennet.
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)
- Slowly heat milk to 86°F and add the lemon juice.
- 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 cheesecloth-lined colander.
- Let whey drain until no more whey drips from the curds. (Save the whey for your animals—they love this!)
- Wrap curds in cheesecloth, place in a cheese press and cover with bricks or weights for several hours to remove the remaining whey.
- 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. Use cheesecloth and shape in a cheese press for 24 hours. 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 top cheese molds with plates or cutting boards weighted down with books, pails of water or weights. 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 mold.
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.
- Add salt, pepper, olives, pimento and garlic to the curd.
- 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 1/2 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.
- Drain curd in a cheesecloth for three minutes then rinse in cold water. Drain off remaining moisture 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 rinse or add cream to the cheese. Cut and drain. Press one day in a cheesecloth-lined mold. Use 15 pounds pressure 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 food coloring for yellow cheese.)
- Cut curd to ¼-3/4 inch cubes. Drain whey 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 cheesecloth-lined mold. Press as for Jack Cheese, but stop after 30 minutes at 60 pounds.
- Remove from mold and remove the cloth, then smooth cheese with warm water or vegetable oil. Leave no cracks. Replace cheesecloth and return to the mold.
- Press at 60 pounds for 12-24 hours.
- To make the rind, store at 55°F for 5 days. Rub with a dry towel. Use vinegar if mold forms.
- Coat with paraffin or cheese wax, 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 block or cylinder molds.
- To get blue veining and avoid external mold, poke holes through cheese with wire to allow oxygen in. 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 Parmesan 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 molds for 24 hours at 20 pounds weight.
- Make brine of one cup salt per gallon water. Soak cheese in brine for 24 hours to start drying. Remove from brine and 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.