Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chevre

Chilled raw goats milk, 1 gallon
Having goats, I am no stranger to owning vast amounts of milk, and I routinely make cheese of one kind or another. Sometimes I get success, sometimes failure. For example, my chevre has been all over the place. Sometimes it's gentle tasting and creamy, but sometimes grainy, tart or watery. Partly, this has to do with where my goat is in her lactation cycle and the goat's diet. But it also comes from my being complacent.

I start making some of the simple cheese from memory instead of from recipe, and it shows in their quality.

At least, I hope. I am going to try following Mary Karlin's chevre recipe as closely as I can and see if I can get a batch of smooth, creamy, firm, mild tasking chevre.

I am using milk from my goat, Meggie. Because I am making the cheese for home consumption, I will use the milk raw, as we normally drink it.

The recipe is already contains a step I don't normally do. I usually warm the milk up straight out of the fridge, but per instructions, I let it rest for one hour first. Then I warm it to 86 degrees (30 C.), sprinkle 1/2 t of starter culture over it, and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Stirring in 1/2 teaspoon meso starter


Again, I usually do the impatient thing and mix in the starter without waiting. Today I wait, then mix.

Then I wait again.

Normally, at this point, I add a drop of rennet mixed in a quarter cup of water. Today, I just leave the milk to ripen. The starter culture will grow, turning the milk's lactose into lactic acid, reducing the pH and causing the cheese solids to form a curd.







The milk with its starter culture incubates overnight. It should form a solid curd floating in clear whey. Instead, 12 hours after I mixed it, it's still semi-gelled. It looks like buttermilk. It is buttermilk. I leave it.

Somewhat thickened, somewhat grainy curds after 12 hours



Curds after 24 hours - still not solid



It has now been 24 hours. The milk/curd is still looser than I am used to. It is similar to home made yogurt. When I touch it with a spoon, there is whey that runs around the spoon, but the curds are still liquid enough to fill in instead of breaking. The surface is pock-marked when whey speckles it as I remove the spoon. I am very nervous about draining these curds. They look like grainy liquid, but I faithfully ladle them into my reusable nylon cheese fabric.

Draining the grainy, still-fluid curds


To my wonder, the curds don't drain through the holes in the cloth. Instead, whey seeps through, leaving the curd behind. After half an hour, I dutifully toss the soggy mess with 1 tsp salt.

The draining takes much longer than I am used to and longer than the instructions led me to believe. 24 hours, and then 36, elapse before the cheese has reached chevre consistency.

But OH, MY, is it good. This chevre is so much smoother than the cheese I make using a drop of rennet. It is better than any I have made and far superior to anything you can buy.

To answer the cheesepalooza questions, this cheese is:

Appearance: very white, dense, smooth, matte, shiny when warmed, like  cream cheese
Nose (aroma): faint, milky, slightly sour
Overall Taste:  mild, no goaty flavor, slightly tart, very rich
Sweet to Salty: sweet, in spite of the added salt
Mild (mellow) to Robust : mellow
Mouth Feel: creamy, slightly buttery. It left a slight buttery coating to my mouth. Contrary to my expectations when I saw the grainy coagulate, there was no graininess left when it drained. NONE. Smooth as silk. The texture was truly perfect.

Some of it is getting spread on home made bagels. My son's school serves bagels  and cream cheese for school breakfast - he told me mine are better!

Some is crusted with breadcrumbs and baked, then served atop a salad of homegrown greens.

The rest will be crumbled on pasta. Yum.







Shared on :  cheesepalooza
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