Goat Cheese or chevre, no matter what you call it; is go-o-o-o-o-o-d! Sorry, I couldn't resist. It's unbelievably easy to make, not to mention inexpensive compared to the cost of a store-bought portion. Seriously, it's about half the cost. If you've ever wanted to learn how to make goat cheese, you've come to the right place.
Where do I find goat milk?
My local Wegmans store carries goat milk in their organic food section. I also buy it at my local Walmart in the dairy section. I was fortunate enough once to have had access to fresh goat milk. My daughter had a college friend whose family had a farm with goats. She graciously gave me a gallon. Aahhh, that was fabulous! Goat milk purchased in the store is pasteurized, as well as most cheeses, including goat cheese. This is the process of heating the product to kill harmful pathogens.
The oldest cheesemaking in the world
Goat cheese is made by a process known as acid/heat coagulation. It is the oldest method of cheese making in the world. Lemon juice and vinegar break apart the protein structure of the milk once it has reached a certain temperature. The most specialized equipment you will need is a digital thermometer.
Goat cheese and goat milk production date back to around the 5th millennium when goat herding was increasing along the plains of the Euphrates river. Goats were a mobile food supply which made pastoralism easier for shepherds and herders. As a result, milk production increased during this time and consequently cheese-making too.
Goat cheese makes an appearance in Greek mythology. In Homer's epic tale The Odyssey the Cyclops Polyphemus is found molding goat cheese into rush molds. There is also evidence of cheese-making from drawings found in Egyptians tombs. By the time of the Roman Empire cheese-making was already an established art.
Keep an eye on the texture
When making goat cheese you need to be aware of the fact that the curds and whey will not separate in the same manner as they do with whole milk. The texture of goat cheese will not contain the larger curds like ricotta.
Yes, the recipe for ricotta will be forthcoming soon. In order to improve the separation I use two types of acids: lemon juice and vinegar. You should make sure that you have a double or triple layer of fine cheese cloth so the tiny solids don't go through.
Feel free to add herbs
I like to add herbs to my goat cheese. My choice is tarragon, because of its sweet taste. I think it adds a nice contrast the slightly acidic taste of the goat cheese. Some find goat cheese to taste slightly tart or earthy. It pairs well with so many different and satisfying dishes. Contrary to popular belief, feta cheese and goat cheese are quite different! Goat cheese has a creamy, spreadable texture compared to the crumbly feta. And, not to mention feta is made from sheep milk, we want the freshest goat milk we can find for this yummy recipe.
I am actually very proud to say that I recently taught a French student and friend, Hélène how to make goat cheese. Goat cheese or chèvre as it is known in France is her favorite cheese. She was amazed. "I am going to teach my dad." she said. She started to rattle off all the wonderful dishes one can make with goat cheese including a tomato tart with goat cheese and basil that sounds positively fabulous.
Yes, I will extract the recipe from her and post it. Hélène also likes to drizzle honey over her goat cheese. She advises the use of a honey without a distinctive flavor. I haven't tried this yet, but you can bet the goat farm I will! The steps to make this are pretty easy.
Steps to make goat cheese:
- Step 1: Line your colander with 2-3 layers of fine cheese cloth. Place your goat milk in a heavy bottom pan and heat SLOWLY until it reaches 185°F. Use a good digital thermometer. Stir frequently while heating to be sure to evenly heat of all the milk. Remove from the heat when it hits the temperature, add the lemon juice and stir then add the vinegar and stir. Then allow to sit for 30 minutes.
- Step 2: Pour or ladle the curdled milk into the cheesecloth and allow to drain. Add the salt and stir in.
- Step 3: Gather the ends of the cheesecloth, tie them and hang over your sink for 1 hour while the whey drips out. Place the ball of cheese on a cutting board or cheese mold and shape. Chill in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
- Step 4: I like to form a long cylinder and sprinkle with some dried herbs when serving.
Frequently Asked Goat Cheese Questions:
You should use a full fat type milk and avoid ultra-pasteurized as the high heat affects the proteins and curds will not form as well. Use the freshest milk possible. Avoid ultra pasteurized because it will not curdle the same way.
Absolutely! Freeze your goat cheese in small packages, tightly wrapped and in an airtight container. We want to stay away from freezing large portions as it may lose moisture, we want to keep the cheese integrity. Use within a few months of freezing. The thawed cheese will have a more crumbly texture and will loose some flavor but will be very good for cooked dishes like casseroles, soups or stews.
I typically recommend eating this freshly made goat cheese within a week, making sure to keep it refrigerated and properly sealed. Goat cheese may last up to 2 weeks, just be sure to discard if there is an off smell or mold starting to form and the end of the 2nd week!
You may have heated the milk too quickly. Consider heating slower. As an example, heating from a refrigerated temperature of 38°F to 88°F should take about 12 minutes. Slow heating is key. You can mash the curds after hanging then add salt, fresh herbs for flavor. If you want it creamier add a spoonful of heavy cream and stir it in.
Use white vinegar.
Sure! I have had many readers email me and say they have tried lavender with honey or even Za’atar sprinkled on the cheese. I like to stir in some dried herbs like tarragon or basil. Sweet herbs or flavors pair well the with slightly acidic, earthy taste of the goat cheese
A reader Helen writes: I’ve made this a few times now, with a few changes. I’ve replaced the lemon juice with lime juice. For my altitude, I’ve taken it to 187° degrees. Additionally, as the cheese is dripping out, I save ¼ C of it in a bowl, add Italian Herbs (not Italian Seasoning) in equal amounts to fine sea salt. When the cheese is drained, I add it to the bowl and mix well.
Yes, you can gently rinse the curds and it will remove some of the tangy flavor of the acid used to coagulate the milk. I like mine slightly salty and tangy. Stir in the salt and herbs after rinsing.
You can add a small amount of heavy cream to the cheese to get the desired creaminess. You only need a small amount so add a teaspoon at time and mash it into the cheese.
Sure, you can gently rinse the curds with water after you have placed them in the cheese cloth to drain.
If you want to try our some other recipes for cheese lovers here are a couple that I love:
Making your own ricotta cheese is a simple recipe and very versatile to use in lasagna or making ricotta gnocchi.
Lebanese cheese fatayer is a popular cheese filled bread and comes together quickly.
Want to enjoy your goat cheese with delicious homemade bread? You can try my rustic Moroccan Country Bread if you're serving it as an app or if tartines are more your thing, then I recommend my Sweet Olive Oil Bread or Irish Soda Bread.
From Latin American you can make homemade queso fresco which is a popular topping for tacos and enchiladas.
How to Make Goat Cheese Recipe - Chèvre
Here is a recipe to make goat cheese at home with a few simple steps! Goat milk has been available in my local grocery store for some time and this cheese is so easy to make.
- 1 qt goat milk
- ⅓ cup lemon juice fresh
- 2 Tbsp vinegar white
- ½ tsp salt
- Dried herbs of your choice optional
- Line a colander with two or three layers of fine cheesecloth.
In a heavy bottom sauce pan heat the goat milk until it reaches 185°F. Stir frequently to ensure even heat throughout.
Remove from heat immediately; add the lemon juice, and stir a couple of times until combined.
Add the vinegar, stir briefly until combined and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes.
The curds will not be large, on the contrary they will be like tiny specks.
Slowly ladle into the cheesecloth. Add the salt and stir lightly.
- Gather the ends of the cheesecloth, and tie them with kitchen string. Tie to your faucet.
- Allow it to hang and drip for about 1 hour.
Place on a cutting board and shape. Sprinkle with died herbs of your choice.
- Refrigerate and serve when set.
- What type of milk can I use? You should use a full fat type milk and avoid ultra-pasteurized as the high heat affects the proteins and curds will not form as well. Use the freshest milk possible.
- Why did my cheese turn out crumbly? You may have heated the milk too quickly. Consider heating slower. As an example, heating from a refrigerated temperature of 38°F to 88°F should take about 12 minutes. Slow heating is key. You can mash the curds after hanging then add salt, fresh herbs for flavor. If you want it creamier add a spoonful of heavy cream and stir it in.
- What kind of vinegar do I use? Use white vinegar.
- Can I experiment with flavors? Sure! I have had many readers email me and say they have tried lavender with honey or even Za’atar sprinkled on the cheese. I like to stir in some dried herbs like tarragon or basil.
- Are there other variations of this recipe? A reader Helen writes: I’ve made this a few times now, with a few changes. I’ve replaced the lemon juice with lime juice. For my altitude, I’ve taken it to 187° degrees. Additionally, as the cheese is dripping out, I save ¼ C of it in a bowl, add Italian Herbs (not Italian Seasoning) in equal amounts to fine sea salt. When the cheese is drained, I add it to the bowl and mix well.
- Can I rinse the curds before storing? Yes, you can gently rinse the curds and it will remove some of the tangy flavor of the acid used to coagulate the milk. I like mine slightly salty and tangy. Stir in the salt and herbs after rinsing.
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