April 7, 2010

La Fête du Fromage - Homemade Chèvre

Technically this is a French cheese. The milk came from French goats and it was made in France.
It is my French cheese. Homemade chèvre frais.

For the last year I've planned to make some of my own cheese and just never got around to doing it. Procrastination sometimes gets the best of me.
So when I was offered a couple of liters of extremely fresh goat's milk the other day, I grabbed some cheesecloth and a lemon and in just under two hours, voilà, I had cheese!
Creamy, snowy white, mild, delicious goat's cheese
. Which I then dressed up with a bit of minced garlic and a sprinkling of herbes de Provence.

The process is so simple it's silly. And it makes me wonder what the heck took me so long to try it.
  • 1 liter (1 quart) goat's milk - pasteurized or unpasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized*
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 clove minced garlic
  • a pinch or two of sea salt
  • optional - minced herbs such as thyme, herbes de Provence, parsley, rosemary
1. Heat the milk over medium heat until it reaches 180 degrees F on a candy or meat thermometer. I used a meat thermometer because I couldn't find my candy thermometer in the deep, dark recesses of my kitchen utensil drawer.
2. Take the milk off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. The milk should begin to curdle immediately. You'll see the curds separate from the whey.
3. Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth - I used about 4 layers. You want to make sure that the curds don't get through.
4. Place over a large bowl to catch the whey and ladle the curds and whey into the cheesecloth lined colander.
5. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth together and hang from a wooden spoon over a deep bowl for about 60-90 minutes. The consistency will be similar to that of dry cottage cheese.

6. Transfer the curds to a bowl and fold in the salt and optional herbs. If it seems a bit dry you can stir in some whey to create a creamier texture, a teaspoon at a time.
7. Eat.

Your homemade chèvre can be stored in the fridge for 1 week in an airtight container. The texture becomes drier after a day or two, so I recommend eating it pretty quickly. Which you will want to do anyway.

*I used unpasteurized milk and heated it to 185 degrees F

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