My attempts at cheesemaking have been hit or miss, a little. I was constrained by several factors, the main one being that my only lactating goat, Iris, was feeding twins and had only a pint a day or so left over for me. It takes a gallon of milk to make 12 ounces or so of cheese, so I seldom had enough milk to even try. I used half and half goat milk and supermarket cow's milk. Also, my recipes would say things like "hold the milk at 72 degrees Fahrenheit for 18 hours" without any suggestions about how to do that. A yogurt-maker sprang to mind, but finding one in my town proved impossible. I resorted to bain-maries and the oven light, but I'm sure that the resulting temperature fluctuations had adverse effects on the cheese. As you can see from the picture, my equipment is pretty rudimentary. Joann, my step-grandmother (?) gave me an old fashioned food mill, which I found works perfectly well for draining fresh curds, especially when lined with a cut-up clean cotton pillowcase. Some of the cheese was okay. Some of it was pretty darn good, but even when it turned out well, I couldn't duplicate the result.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Some of these problems have been solved. Django gave birth a few weeks ago to one undersized baby girl, Valentine, and has so much milk that I have to milk her twice a day or she gets uncomfortable, this on top of nursing her kid. Between the two does, I'm now netting about a half gallon of milk daily, which is plenty to make cheese once a week and also to make yogurt and to drink. The temperature problem isn't solved, but now that daytime temperatures are in the range that I want anyway, I can simply use room temperature, if I start early in the morning. I'm beginning to get much more consistent results, at least as far as chevre is concerned.
For those of you who might not be familiar with it, chevre is the white, smooth, spreadable goat cheese that usually comes in the form of a log. If a menu just says "goat cheese," it's almost always chevre. I love it. I could eat it by the barrel. The last batch I made was the first batch that was 100% goat milk, all hand milked by me from my very own goats. And it was by far my best batch yet, snowy white, creamy, tangy and delicious. It was a big hit at my friend Sarah's solstice party yesterday. I know pride's a sin, but I was proud enough to burst watching people bite into my cheese and smile.