Sunday is a kind of aimless time; brunch is an aimless and long activity, farmers markets are for meandering, and people should not be going to the gym. In the summer, families crowd the streets, the roads, and most activities are at capacity. The smartest thing to do is have chilled wine in the afternoon and turn your kitchen into a lab. This week, we make goat cheese - and add some edible flowers for luxury. It sounds difficult, but isn't as tricky as you might think. Take a lazy Sunday afternoon and go from a moderately bored person to a cheese maker!
Recipe borrowed and slightly edited from here.
You will need:
1 gallon of milk (as fresh as you can find it, look for pasteurized instead of ultra-pasteurized)
1 packet of our Chevre culture
Salt (non-iodized cheese salt)
A good thermometer
A knife to cut the curds, and a spoon or ladle to stir the curds with.
A colander and butter muslin (cheese cloth) to drain the curds (no molds are needed for the loose Chevre)
(for those of you in Austin - these supplies can be found at the Austin HomeBrew Store. Most home [beer] brewing shops also have cheese-making supplies)
Edible Flowers (can be found at most health food stores)
1. Begin by warming the milk to 68-72F (20-22C). You do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of warm water. I find that in the summertime 72F works well for me here and slows the acid production and curd formation down for a more even textured curd. In the winter time I have used the 86F as a starting point but rarely find good goats milk then.
2. Once the milk is at the correct temperature the culture can be added. To prevent the powder from caking and sinking in clumps, sprinkle the powder over the surface of the milk and then allow about 2 minutes for the powder to re-hydrate before stirring it in.
3. The milk now needs to sit quiet for 6-12 hours while the culture works and the rennet coagulates the curd. The thermal mass of this milk should keep it warm during this period. It is OK if the temp drops a few degrees during this time. The longer the curd sets the more acid will be produced.
4. When a good curd has formed, you will see a thin layer of whey over the curd mass and the curd may show cracks and separation from the sides. It will also show a clean break when tested with a knife or finger.
5. This curd can now be transferred to a butter muslin lined colander with a ladle or slotted spoon to allow the whey to drain. The amount of time needed for draining will be about 6 hours at 68-72F but this is dependent on what you want as Chevre-less time for a sweeter and moister cheese and more time for a drier and tangier cheese. Remember that the bacteria is still working and as long as the whey is present they are able to convert the lactose (in the whey) to lactic acid.
6. The time of draining and the temperature of the room determine how much whey drains from the curd. The draining period regulates the body characteristics and determines the final quality of the cheese. This period can be as much as 12-36 hours at a temperature of 68-72 °F. Higher temperatures promote gas formation and excessive moisture loss; lower temperatures inhibit whey drainage and produce a very moist cheese with very short shelf life.
7. After the cheese has formed, press on decorative flowers or add to the bottom of a mold! Wrap up as gifts or impress everyone at your next dinner party.