Chevre

Chevre

1 gallon (give or take a bit) goat milk

¼ teaspoon mesophilic culture or about ½ cup buttermilk with live cultures

2 tblspn of:  3 drops liquid rennet in 1/3 cup cool water

In a large non-aluminum pot, warm the milk to 80 deg.  Stir in the culture, using a whisk or slotted spoon/ladle.  (Stir thoroughly but gently.) Add the two tablespoons of diluted rennet, stirring gently again.  Put the lid on the pot and let it sit at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, until you get a clean break.

The clean break
The clean break

What is a clean break?

It’s when you can “cut” the milk with a knife or ladle – I use my thermometer – and the milk is sliceable.  It will close somewhat as you cut it but you can still see the line you made in the milk.  It should be very smooth – if it seems kind of rough on the edges, give it some more time before you check again.  You will check for a clean break in every cheese you make, so you will have plenty of practice with that!

Once you have your clean break, set up your cheese draining supplies if you haven’t already.  You’ll need a large pot for the cheese to drain into.  My preference is our large broiler pan (oval and deep).  I put a cooling rack on top of that.  And my cheese-draining containers sit on top of that.  My cheese draining container for chevre (and crottins, coulommiers, or other mold-ripened cheeses) is a beautiful and oh-so-sophisticated large plastic Folger container with many many holes drilled in it. Gently ladle or pour your curds into the container, letting it drain and adding more if they don’t all fit at first.

You can also set a colander over a pot, place a good-sized piece of cheesecloth on it, and pour your curds onto this. Gather up the corners and sides of the cloth, wrap it tightly with rope, and hang it.  If the handles on your kitchen cabinets allow, it is easy to hang the bag of curds on that, with the pot and colander below to catch the whey.  Leave the colander there – if somehow the bag slips while draining, you’ll be so glad you did!

Either method, the cheese will drain for about 6 hours.  The container method tends to go faster and can get you to a drier chevre.  The bag tends to take longer and will yield a creamier chevre (because less whey has drained out).  As you can see, you can tweak the texture of your chevre a bit one way or the other depending on your personal preference.

Eat the chevre within 2 weeks (give some away to friends if that’s not possible!). I’m told that it freezes well, certainly if you are going to use it for cooking – my mother used some in a cheesecake and loved it!  To freeze, be sure to use heavy ziploc freezer bags and remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing.

I love these 8-ounce containers!
I love these 8-ounce containers!

These are not packed perfectly tightly so there is a bit of appearance of bubbles.

This brings up a good point – if you ever get a cheese that is bubbly and “light” – floats in the whey rather than sinks, etc – this is chicken food. The cheese caught a yeast and it’s one of the few unsalvageable circumstances! Once you have seen it, it is very recognizable.

But back to the focus on chevre – the chevre you see in these pictures has a creamy texture, leaning towards crumbly.  That is my personal ideal – if you want it creamier, drain less (or add some whey back in), and if you want it more on the crumbly side, drain longer.

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