Goat cheese is a wonderful food to experience, there is so much you can do with it and you can flavor it in so many ways! Now getting a hold of bad tasting goat cheese is a whole other story & not such a wonderful food to experience… It’s really quite awful and can make someone who hasn’t had good tasting goats milk or cheese never want to touch it again. Ask me how I know? because I’ve had both good and bad, there is most certainly a distinct difference. Before we get started with the recipe I’d like to give my experience with goat cheese for those who have ever had bad tasting goat cheese/milk or are afraid to try it from hearing it taste yucky. Trust me not all goat dairy products are created equal & if you try the good stuff you’ll be hooked for life.
Back when I was first getting started with goats we bought some goat cheese from a supermarket before my first does gave birth and we got a chance to make our own cheese or try the milk and it was a mistake, the cheese was one of the most terrible tasting things I have ever came across, it tasted like I had just licked a billy goat & I could hardly get the rank, musky flavor out of my mouth afterwards. It made me nervous about the endeavor I’d begun with my goats, I knew if the milk tasted anything like that, there was no way I would be able to drink it or convenience my family to start drinking it. So I waited anxiously the next few weeks for my girls to kid, then when the time did come & the babies were here I found myself still nervous about trying the milk for fear of what it would taste like. I had read many blogs & post about how most of the time the milk’s taste is based on two things, #1 what breed of goat it came from because different breeds have different tasting milk & #2 how the milk is handled has a lot to do with it’s taste also. Well before I bought my goats I did a lot of research on finding what I thought would be the best dairy breed for us and we ended up getting Mini Nubians which I think was the perfect choice for our farm but anyway not long after that I had a friend who also owns dairy goats finally tell me to just try it, that it would taste nothing like store bought goats milk or cheese. So I bit the bullet and tried it, she was right! Whew it was like a breath of fresh air tasting it and it being very similar to whole cows milk, very nice taste and texture, I actually really liked it and now I prefer it over cows milk all together but I tell you all that to come to this, be careful where you get goats milk and cheese. You can get very good or very bad, if you have a chance to buy from a local dairy farmer go for it! I promise you it will taste much better than any goat products you can get at the store. So whether you have your own dairy goats and are looking for a simple & easy cheese recipe or you buy whole goats milk and would like to try your hand at cheese making, this recipe is a great one to start with because it is very simple and you can flavor it however you like and also have a little bit of range on texture as well & if you come across someone who won’t try your goat’s milk, most likely they won’t try your goats cheese. So instead of telling them directly its goats cheese you can call it Chèvre cheese, which is the French word for goat, its still the truth & you might get them to try it! & you’ll sound super cool pronouncing a French word haha The word chèvre is pronounced SHEH-vruh, you can also google it to hear it pronounced, that’s what I did! lol
Please let me know if you try the recipe and how you decide to flavor it, we love new ideas for flavoring our cheese. I’ve become quite the goat cheese fanatic these days, next time we have a big family get together I’m planning on trying to trick some of my non-goat cheese eating family by using the “Chèvre” word trick on them!
For your basic cheese you’ll need:
- 1 Gallon whole goats milk
- 1/2 Fresh lemon juice
- Cheese cloth or very thin hand towel
- Large stock pot
- Cooking thermometer
Start by juicing your fresh lemons, it usually takes 2 large lemons to make half a cup & fresh juice is a must! I’ve tried using lemon juice out of the bottle before and it did not make very many curds and I was very disappointed with the amount of cheese it made. The next time I did it, I used fresh lemon juice and actually a little bit of white vinegar (you can use different acidics to make the cheese, such as vinegar, lime juice, citric acid and lemon juice, I like using lemon juice the best.) & I noticed a big difference in the amount of curds I got, so definitely use fresh lemons or whatever other acidic you decide to use.
Once you’ve done that start warming your milk, you don’t want to heat it too fast or it will scorch. Milk can & will scorch VERY quickly so stay with it and stir it constantly. I usually start my milk on low-med heat for a few minutes then move it to med-high heat to finish it up, warming it to 185 degrees F. I also usually keep my thermometer in the milk once I can tell its starting to heat up so I can keep track of the temperature and not burn the milk, be careful that the thermometer isn’t resting at the bottom of the pan so its not giving a false reading of the milk temperature.
When the milk reaches 185 degrees F, move it off the heat & add in lemon juice, stir it in well, cover & allow it to set for 15 minutes. The curd will start forming and separate from the whey, after the 15 minutes you can gently ladle the larger curds into a colander that’s lined with your cheese cloth, then carefully pour the remaining curds & whey into colander so that you strain out all the smaller curds that were left behind. Knot the corners of your cheese cloth and hang it up to allow it to drain for a few hours or until desired texture. For a more crumbly texture allow to drain longer and for more spreadable texture, less hanging time. Once you make a few batches you can try different hanging times to see which texture you like better, its an extremely easy cheese & you can flavor it however you like. This cheese is somewhat bland without flavoring, I always flavor it in someway, even if its only a little cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt.
I’m going to try to get into more cheese making this year & try a few different recipes that call for a different method of making the curds, some of which are more complicated than this & I will document the progress when I get to that but for now I’m enjoying my simple, yet wonderful cheese!
We made two cheese logs out of this batch, a toasted almonds/cranberries/drizzled with honey & a touch of salt, then also a cilantro/jalapeno/lime zest with cracked black pepper & a little olive oil, both were amazing and super simple. We ate them with thin almond crackers, the cilantro cheese also went good on a deli style chicken sandwhich we made. I didn’t really measure out the amounts for the ingredients, I just added in and tasted it every so often to see what else was needed. So from goats milk, to plain cheese, to gormet, wow the crowd Chèvre, this easy cheese is sure to make your taste buds smile!