Goat cheese is amazing. Goat cheese is creamy. Delicious. Versatile. You want some. You know you do.
Then you visit the grocery store to buy some, take one look at the price tag, and decide you don’t want it bad enough to pay that price…
Fortunately, though, goat cheese (chevre) is ridiculously easy to make at home so you can have it whenever you want.
Table of Contents
Here’s what you need
For approximately one pound of cheese, you need:
- one gallon of fresh goat milk
- one packet of chevre culture (click here to buy it)
- a pot big enough to hold your gallon of milk and a lid for the pot
- a colander
- a food thermometer
- a slotted spoon
- a large bowl
- some cheesecloth or a new, clean, white handkerchief
- some salt and optional seasonings.
As you can see, most of these things are probably already in your kitchen, except perhaps the chevre culture, which is easily purchased online.
The chevre culture comes in sets of five packets, and each packet already contains powdered rennet, so there’s no additional rennet that you need to buy. It’s handy to have several packets on hand (yay for the five pack!) because this cheese is so easy to make, you’ll want to make it often.
A word about milk: if you have goats of your own, using fresh milk is best. If you don’t, you can buy goat milk in most large grocery stores. You can also use whole cow’s milk from the grocery store, but your cheese won’t be true chevre, it will be more like a queso blanco. Still delicious, still easy, still impressive, but not a true goat cheese. Check the label on your milk to make sure it isn’t UHT (ultra high temperature pasteurized). UHT milk will not coagulate into cheese.
Heat and culture the milk
Heat the milk to 86°F and add one packet of chevre culture. Stir the culture into the warm milk gently but thoroughly, put the lid on the pot, and allow it to sit undisturbed on the countertop for at least 12 hours. I like to culture the milk either right before I go to bed at night or first thing in the morning. It will gradually coast to room temperature over time, and that’s perfectly fine. The rennet and the bacteria in the chevre culture packet you added will be working their magic during this time.
Check for separation of curds and whey
Once the milk has rested 12 hours, you should be able to see a clear separation of curds and whey. I’ve tipped the pot so you can see the clear whey around the side the pot and the curd mass in the middle.
Test for “clean break”
Since this is a soft cheese, the curd mass will be relatively delicate compared to a hard cheese’s curd, but you should still be able to lift out a piece of the soft curd mass onto the tip of a knife, that holds its shape and leaves well-defined edges. The whey that fills the hole should be clear and not milky. This is called “checking for clean break.” Getting a clean break means the curd is ready to be drained.
Strain the curds from the whey
Place a colander in a large bowl or a second pot, line the colander with cheesecloth, butter muslin, or a cheap thin (new!) men’s handkerchief. Ladle the curds and whey into the lined colander. The bowl will catch the whey so that you can use it for other things. Feed it to your chickens, use it in place of water when baking bread, or make “wheymonade” by replacing the water in lemonade with the whey for an extra protein boost.
Allow the curds to drain
Now, tie the corners of the cloth and hang the bundle over a pot or bowl to finish draining. My fancy-shmancy draining apparatus is a heavy-duty rubber band and a carabiner hooked through my kitchen cabinets. One more rubber band attaches my bundle to the carabiner and I’m ready to let this drain for 12 hours, give or take. When no more whey drips from the bundle, and the cheese is as firm – or as soft – as you like it, you’re ready to finish your cheese.
Salt and season your goat cheese
Take the firmed-up curd out of the cloth bundle and break it up in a bowl. Add 1 1⁄2 – 2 teaspoons of salt and mix it all up together. You can stop there, open a box of crackers, and go to town on that bowl of deliciousness but why stop there? Add some other spices to the cheese. Anything you like. A pinch of cayenne pepper, maybe. Or paprika. Or some jam. Yummy yum!
Make a cheese roll, if you like
You can do as I did here, and shape the cheese into a rough log shape, place it on a piece of parchment paper and use a straightedge to tighten the parchment against the cheese to firm it into a nice smooth cheese log that can be rolled in herbs, spices or even ground nuts or dried fruit. I rolled mine in dill. That’s my favorite.
Enjoy the deliciousness!
Once you’ve tried making your own chevre this way, don’t stop there! One brilliant thing about chevre is the versatility of it. You can drain it for a shorter time for a moister, sweeter cheese, or drain it longer for tangier crumbles. It can be molded, pressed and aged. The important thing is for you to consume your fresh chevre within about a week, but I really don’t think that will be a problem, do you? Now pass me that box of crackers, I’m going to have a little snack!
(This article was originally posted in similar fashion on our sister site, givemegoats.com. There is an affiliate link included which may, or may not, result in a small commission for me, but does not affect your purchase price in any way.)