I have long been a fan of fresh goat cheese. I will gladly use the logs that are found at Trader Joe’s; they can’t be beat on pizzas, or for a nice addition to a cheese plate, rolled in fresh herbs or dried herbes de Provence. But if you have ever tasted fresh goat cheese, you will be thoroughly spoiled. R and I eat plenty of it in Beaune from the gentle young man who sells it at the Saturday market. He is bearded and soft-spoken; I can see him lovingly tending his goats. I love to take friends to see him at the market, and select the cheeses which our guests prefer: very mild, very fresh, aged or rolled in ash. Chevre at the local market is not expensive, and I like to buy five or six kinds that we will eat over 2-3 days; tasting them side-by-side will help you decide which you prefer. As with wine and many other foods of France, it’s a matter of taste. If you ever get a chance to sample a lineup of farm-fresh chevre cheeses, please do so.
Last weekend we had a small serving of fresh goat cheese before dinner, with a Myers’ lemon gelée studded with blueberries, and on the lawn were several goats, not to mention a small baby goat which was hand-carried and bottle fed all day. I’m not a huge fan of commercial cow milk production, and I left the party with the idea to give home-made goat cheese a try. Though some say goats can be moody, many people tell me they are very attached to their people, when socialized, and make wonderful pets. How about this sweet face?~
My research on Monday took me about five minutes. I decided right away to use raw milk if I could find it, which I did, at Mothers Market, $7 for one quart. You can also use pasteurized goat milk. I think that pasteurized milk is heated longer than this cheese recipe, so I opted for the raw milk base as I favor the least-processed product:
Rennet is often used in making cheese, and it’s origin and types are something I won’t go into here. Many recipes for goat cheese call for vinegar or lemon juice. I used two small lemons from our tree~
To make the cheese, put one quart of milk in a non-reactive container; and heat it to 180-185 degrees, then remove from heat.
Add 1/3 cup of lemon juice.
The milk will start to curdle a little. Cover it and set it aside for 8 hours or more.
The next morning, 8-12 hours later, strain the mixture. You can use cheese-cloth, but I used a thin French linen towel. If you use a towel, make sure it is clean and not dried with any fabric softener.
At this step you are separating the curds (solid) from the whey (liquid). Wrap the end of the towel up and turn the spoon so that the whey can drain. At first this is a steady stream, but it will drip for hours over the bowl after that. Be patient!
Hours later, you will have this, strained curds about the size of a ball of fresh mozzarella~
Salt it a little with a high quality salt; I used a little fleur de sel; you can also add honey or other flavors at this point.
The cheese is very light and the texture is not like the Trader Joe’s version at all. I rolled a ball of it by hand and then rolled it again in fresh herbs from the garden, served on a slice of toast drizzled in olive oil from Akram of Thyme of Essence.
Next time I will smash this down just a little. My parents ate all of this tonight.
I made a second plate of toast, tomato, peach and herbs. The tomato and peach was drizzled with Arakm’s Fig Balsamic before I added the cheese; the balsamic will stain the cheese, so I add the cheese last.
And in its most simple form, the first cherry tomato from my garden, a sliver of peach and a taste of fresh chevre are magnificent on a sprig of garden basil with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and pepper. My family would pop these in their mouth just like this~
Please don’t think of fresh goat cheese just for appetizers. While I think it’s better in a more raw state than cooked, I used fresh lavender-honey goat cheese from Soledad at my dinner bash last summer, in a goast-cheese cheesecake, and it was the first dessert to be gone. Tonight I made a plate for my parents with two scoops of the strawberry-cheesecake ice cream we have on hand, two pieces of nut fudge, and a ball of goat cheese. Drizzled with chocolate and topped with a fresh violet. Violets in classic times were the way to reveal your love. They are also edible, and my sister and her girls will eat every flower I put on the plates, for garnish or not. Sis also loves violets, and on Sunday I gave her this $3 plant from Trader Joes. The two blossoms I saved were put to good use this evening~
Dress it up more with a few pistachios.
This is all just what I have on hand, Imagine what we can do with a little taste of tangy-lemony goat cheese if we try!!
This will figure heavily in my summer menus. Ounce per ounce, I think making this at home is better than buying at a farmers market; and my parents ate all of the samples I prepared tonight and are demanding more soon. It’s a great food to have on hand for summer. It will last about a week fresh, but you will have no problem consuming it by then.