This is the first time I've tried to make chevre, or a cultured goat cheese beyond yogurt cheese. I'm using the milk that I picked up yesterday, fresh from the faucet as it were. =0)
This first pic shows some of the equipment needed. A gallon of milk, a thermometer, the chevre culture, and two stainless steel pots that fit one inside the other. I picked a set of 3 of these up at a local big box store for $30 and they work perfect.
The milk goes in the little pot, the little pot goes in the big pot, and water goes into the big pot to the level of the milk. In other words, you're making a double boiler to gently raise and hold the heat of the milk.
Onto the stove it goes, put the thermometer in, turn on the flame and bring the milk to 145*. I've found with this particular set-up, I need to turn the flame off around 140* and the temp will continue to rise to the required 145*. As the milk heats up, stir it ocassionally to mix the temp layers that otherwise form in the milk. Stainless steel spoons are best as they will confer no off flavors to the milk. I found mine at a garage sale for $2. =0)
Once the temp is up to 145*, it needs to be held between 145* and 150* for 30 min. This pasteurizes the milk and kills any pathogens or competing bacteria that might ruin the cheese. I've found with my set-up the temp will stay up for about 20 min. before I have to bump it a bit with the flame.
After 30 min. cool the milk rapidly by setting it in a sink of cold water and ice. If you're going to just drink the milk, you can take it all the way down to 40* and put in the fridge. This milk is safe for infants, elderly, and immuno-compromised individuals.
If, as today, you are making chevre, you cool the milk to 86* and stir in the chevre culture, a tiny little packet that sure doesn't look like it could make cheese out of a whole gallon of milk. =0)
Once the culture is added, you put the lid on your pot and place it somewhere where it will stay at 72* for 12 hours. We looked around the house and the closest we got was up on top of the pantry shelves. It was about 70* and we're hoping that's close enough. It's going to be a warm day, so it'll probably warm up a bit up there. Tonight we'll see if we have curds...
Ya'll are seeing way more of my kitchen than most of my friends... LOL
An important note... when pasteurizing and making cheeses, you'll need a thermometer that can be calibrated for accuracy. They generally have a small nut on the backside of the dial so you can use a wrench to adjust them.
To calibrate, put the sensing end in a glass of ice water... mostly ice, just enough water to fill the spaces. After everything's had a few minutes to chill, your thermometer should read 32*. If it doesn't, take a small wrench and tweak the nut, holding the dial, til it does.
The first time I tried to pasteurize my milk, I hadn't done this and the dang milk was boiling and supposedly it hadn't reached the high temp I wanted (there's a high temp version of pasteurizing, where you keep the temp up for something like 15 sec. but it doesn't yield as desirable a curd for cheese making). Soooo, that's how I found out about calibrating thermometers. LOL
I bought those stainless steel pots, too, but then I set them aside with the receipt because I thoguht they were not really stainless steel, because my magnet wouldn't stick to them. But my-son-the-chef came over and laughed, said stainless steel is not magnetic. So I kept them and have used the smallest one for cheese making, but never thought to use to of them as a double boiler. Duh! Thanks, Jay.
Those pots are about as thin and cheap as you could make 'em, but they work great for this. LOL They'd make great milking buckets, too, I think. And a whole lot cheaper than the stainless steel pails in the livestock catalogues. =0)
Rennet is an enzyme that coagulates the milk, helping to form a firmer curd. It's especially helpful with goat milk. If you're having trouble getting your goat milk yogurt to firm up, it needs a tiny touch of very dilute rennet.
There's both animal rennet, from calf or lamb stomachs, and vegetable rennet. Now they have a bacteria line that produces rennet as well.
The chevre culture in the goat cheese kit also has rennet in it, from a vegetable source. =0)
Well, I'd like to say I bounced out of bed bright and early to check the cheese, but we're plumb wore out from yesterday's nice weather and everything we got done... no early, no bounce. Bright's always in question. =0)
But I have taken the draining cheese down and Tah-Dah... cheese, wonderful cheese! A big ol' hunk of it, too. =0) It tastes great, and has a slightly grainy appearance, though the texture in the mouth is smooth. I can't wait to have it on this morning's toast with chokecherry jelly! Oh yum...
Sounds delicious -- but, how do you pronounce chevre, anyway? NE Cheesemaking Supply is where I got my mozzarella kit from, the one I haven't used yet. The postage really bothered me, I need to find a cheesemaking supplier on the West Coast, closer to home.
Re rennet, don't bother asking for it at your local grocery. All I got when I tried that were blank stares, LOL. I can remember seeing rennet on grocery store shelves. Doesn't seem that long ago, either.
Wow, what a great lesson!! Step by step - and with pictures too! ...You should teach random classes on here!! You're awesome at this! And now I know how to pasteurize fresh milk too! I've saving that info! In my 'self-sufficient library' I have a three ring binder for tidbits like this that I print and put in it. :-D
Anything you do vigorously will help. I think of it like feeding a horse. I was raised not to grain my horse until after I'd worked him. No work, no grain.
So on the days when I sit around and do little, I try not to indulge. On the days when I work like a madwoman, I eat anything I want.
At least, that's the theory... LOL
I took half the chevre down to S. at the feed store to express my appreciation for letting me have freight delivered there. BIG hit. S was already talking about 3 different things she wants to do with it. And gave it high marks for color, texture and smell... she's quite the gourmand, is S. =0) She said she could feel crackers in her future.
I was only a nonsubscriber for about a week after I found DG. I couldn't get enough! I have learned so much about so many different things on here. With all the subscribers from so many different backgrounds, this place has a wealth of knowledge on nearly anything you need. And lots of great company to boot. LOL
Chevre is made with a chevre culture. What you're making with vinegar is queso blanco made with goat milk. If you use lemon juice, it's called panir. Just because it's made with goat milk doesn't make it chevre, though it's still great cheese. =0) And simple!
The reason some recipes say not to use pastuerized milk is the store pastuerized milk often doesn't make good cheese, because it's been super heated in a process known as ultra-pasteurization (UP). That's why milk keeps for a month now if it's refrigerated. Sometimes milk from a regional dairy is not UP, but you can usually tell from the use by date... if it's weeks away, it's UP. If it's next week, it's not.
Home pasteurized milk is not a problem for cheese making. In fact, most of the recipes I have start with pastuerized milk, because that way the cheese culture has no competition with other bacteria that is present in raw milk and you'll get a more consistent product.
It's more like ricotta; it depends on how long you let it drain. Adding a bit of milk or cream after draining can give it a substance more like neufchatel... low fat cream cheese.
I find the vinegar and lemon curdled cheeses to have a firmer, grainier texture than ricotta. They also don't melt well... the panir is what is in the east Indian dish Palaak Panir... cubes of cheese in creamed spinach that don't melt when you heat the dish. Very tasty. =0)
The vinegar and lemon curdled cheeses are very easy and where I started. Then chevre is often the next step in difficulty. Then there's a world of soft cheeses and the "college-level" hard cheeses... I don't ever 'spect to get that educated. LOL
Yogurt is maybe even easier than vinegar cheese! And if you drain it, then you've got yogurt cheese... another yummy!
You'll need to start with a kind of store yogurt you like... not non-fat, because the pectin or gelatine or carageenan they put in it interferes with culturing it. Check the label of low fat yogurts, too.
You heat the milk to 180*, let it cool, and add a generous tablespoon full of your store yogurt, stirring it into the cooled milk well. Keep the milk warm (somewhere near 116*) for ~ 6hrs... a oven with a pilot light, an igloo filled with warm water, we use our dehydrator... until the mixture thickens to be like thick cream. Put it in the fridge and it sets up more.
I used to mix it up right before bed and put it in my warm oven overnight and by morning I had fresh yogurt.
With goat milk, a tiny bit of rennet (use one TBL of the following dilution: 1 drop rennet to 4 TBL cool, unchlorinated water) is used to help get a good set, otherwise it's runny, more like kefir. Or you can use pectin, gelatin, or dry milk (1/4 C per qt. milk).
I used to make yogurt with store-bought cow milk all the time, using the dry milk as a thickener and non-fat milk, but I haven't tried it since they started ultrapasteurizing milk, so I don't know if it makes a difference with the final product.
Just a heads up... the 'cheese cloth' they sell in the supermarket doesn't work very well for curd draining... a piece of lightweight muslin will do much better. =0)
I don't add dry powdered milk anymore... for all I know it is dried milk from China. I DO make my yogurt with whole milk; after it has cooled and the culture added, I put it in half pint canning jars and use my Excalibur dehydrator to warm it enough to set. Then screw the tops on tight, cool to room temp. and refrigerate.
That way I have individual servings ready to grab, and the Excalibur does a good job of keeping the temp. steady while I'm making it. (While the heated milk is cooling down, I test the dehydrator with a thermometer to see what setting keeps the temp. I want.)
One word of caution: I like the taste of Greek and Bulgarian yogurts, but they don't work for me as a starter culture. Not sure why.
I use "butter muslin" (from New England Cheesemaking Supply) to drain everything, even berries when I'm making jelly. Wash in hot soapy water, rinse with a tsp. of vinegar in the water, and dry for re-use. The fruits stain the muslin so those pieces only get used for fruits.
tougher and tougher to find unless you got your own milking animal. I m still trying to find a shareherd around my area. nothing yet they are all in the amish country side which is to far for me. :( some day :)
Call your local 4H extension office and see if there are kids with goats/cows/sheep that are milking. There should be... It's baby season. You can buy private from them. If you were in Oregon I could get you all the milk you wanted!
This thread was very helpful to me. I love Fromage Blanc and I had not found a recipe for it here in the US that was accurate until I went scoping out somthing for this thread and found that one on New England Cheesemaking.
I'll bet you could use your incubator. Folks use all sorts of set-ups... yogurt's not fussy like cultured cheeses. I'll bet if you could get the temp anywhere between 100 and 120, you'd be in fine shape.
I think a person could put a cookie cooling rack over a heating pad set on low, put the container of yogurt on the rack and cover the whole deal with a thick towel and it'd work. I've heard of folks using electric blankets, but that's seems kind of overkill for a quart of yogurt. LOL
The warmer the temp, the faster the set. The cooler, the slower. For myself, I've found I prefer cooler, as it's too easy to get tart yogurt with a higher temp and I'm not fond of tart yogurt.
Ginger, I've been curious about the Fromage Blanc... let us know how it goes! Do you have Ricki Carroll's book yet? OMG, to die for!
I already wanted a root cellar, now I'm dreaming of a root cellar/cheese cave combo...
I'm fortunate that I have both a spring house and a root cellar. The spring house might be perfect to grow mushrooms, but as it's not insulated, cannot be used for winter food storage or cheese. I thought about the root cellar for cheese, but in reality I need 2 root cellars... one with low humidity, and one with high humidity for storing different foods. It's not large enough to divide.
If we get a backhoe in here in a year or two to dig out a spot to extend the tiny back bedroom (when the kid's boyfriend moves up here), maybe I can afford to have an additional spot dug to extend the root cellar. Dreams are cheap.
Can an excavator fit across your bridge or will it have to come through the creek? We have a root cellar at the barn but it needs a new roof. It doesn't have any shelves in it. What kind of shelves should I think about? The building is about 8x10 or 12. The roof is about 7 ft tall or so.
Can't really tell on the humidity with the roof leaking the way it does. As to it's age, I think it is pretty old. There was an old homeplace where the barn sits now and the root cellar was part of the old homeplace. It would need a new roof, a good door and some screen over the vents to keep "visitors" away. I have thought of using it as a chicken house but that seems to be a waste of a good root cellar. It's always cool in there.
Well, you know we all have serious cellar envy, so don't even begin to think about making that a chicken coop. =0)
I know if I had such a fine old stone building, I'd be looking to put a new roof and door on it. Between produce storage, mushroom growing and future cheese cave, I'd be in an absolute dither about its potential!
I just finished reading about how ol' Charley (remember him? The old guy with the wagon bows ripped off?) hand dug a 12 x 14 foot root cellar on his new homestead to store his potatoes and onions in. Sounds like it took him about a week... it'd sure take me a might longer! LOL
Shelves should withstand humidity. The ones in mine are wonky but they have been there for ages; they're probably wormy chestnut. They only go from the middle up, and my building is short like yours. My guess is that they had slatted wooden bins below to store potatoes, onions, etc. I put a bale of straw in mine 3 years ago and cover my shelves with it and bury potatoes, winter squash or whatever in the straw. I lost a few sweet potatoes one year... the veggies were touching the block walls, so now I make sure they are well buried in straw against the outside wall.
The extra space below the shelves gives me a place to drag in tender plants in pots for winter, things like my figs.
I have 3 books I bought used (and cheap) on half.com; all have some interesting tips and information. They are Root Cellaring, Putting Food By, and Stocking Up.
Got the new Countryside magazine today. It has something in it about root cellars but I haven't read it yet. I've been busy with the new foal and I went carting this afternoon. Then a young friend and I braided Max's mane and tail. Hez da bomb!!