Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Farmer's (Goat) Cheese aka Neufchatel

I just finished eating a few crackers topped with my first (successful) attempt at Farmer's Cheese, a soft "cream" type cheese.

A neighbor said she had made some Farmer's cheese with the inexpensive Junket rennet tablets found in the local grocery store, so I thought I would try that first. An online cheese making blog said not to use Junket rennet because it is not the same as cheese rennet. But it was here and within my budget, so it was cheese rennet to me! :)

Goat Milk Cheese Rennet

My "first" first attempt was a bust, using the original recipe from the Junket instructions. Not to say it doesn't work, but that my attempt didn't work. The recipe calls for buttermilk, which I didn't have; so I looked online and found you can substitute with milk and lemon juice. So I did that, along with adding 1/4 tablet of rennet dissolved in a little water. In hindsight, I don't think the combination of those was enough to coagulate the milk. I heated the milk to 65 degrees F according to the recipe, added the "buttermilk" and rennet, and left the covered pot out overnight per the instructions. It was supposed to solidify overnight; but it just never did, even after I left it another 12+ hours. So that went to the chickens.

My next attempt was a conglomeration of a couple of recipes. This time I heated two quarts of our raw goat milk to just below boiling, and added two generous tablespoons of white vinegar (one per quart) and 1/2 tablet of the Junket rennet dissolved in a little water. Since this was previously frozen milk, it was a bit watery; so I decided to err on the side of caution and add too much vinegar and rennet rather than too little. The last thing I wanted was to ruin another batch:

Goat Milk Cheese Milk Heating


I whisked it all together, covered the pot, and hoped for the best. Well, this time it started to coagulate much more quickly, which gave me hope. By the next day, it was not as solid as I imagine a really good cheese probably would be; but it was close enough!

Goat Milk Cheese Milk Whisking


According to the recipe, the cheese is ready when you can poke your finger in and lift the top, gelled layer cleanly from the lower, liquid layer:

Goat Milk Cheese Curds


Then, you are supposed to cut it into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes in order to assist with the "draining of the whey" (sounds like a ceremony). The instructions call for the first cut starting down the middle, holding the knife at a 90 degree angle, and then each subsequent cut tilting the knife a little until you get to 45 degrees by the time you reach the side of the pot. You turn the pot 1/4 turn, and repeat the process, which eventually makes a grid of curd cubes. I forgot to tilt the knife as I cut -- oh, well. But, it came out okay anyway:

Goat Milk Cheese Cutting Curds in Pot


Then, I spooned out the cubes of curds into a handkerchief-lined strainer with a bowl underneath to catch the whey drippings. They say to use cheesecloth, but it just seemed too loose of a mesh, and the handkerchief worked very well for this type of cheese:

Goat Milk Cheese Spooning to Handkerchief


Here it is all spooned into the strainer. You can't tell here, but it's draining like crazy underneath:

Goat Milk Cheese Whey Draining


Quite a bit of whey drained quickly, but it takes 2-3 hours to fully drain:

Goat Milk Cheese Whey


Here are the curds with the majority of the whey drained. Pretty cool, huh?!

Goat Milk Cheese Curds with Whey Drained


After the main draining, I hung up the handkerchief to draw out the rest of the whey with the help of a bit longer exposure to gravity:

Goat Milk Cheese Curds Drip Draining


Well, this looked like it might resemble Farmer's, or some kind of cheese, and not too much like a train wreck:

Goat Milk Cheese


So I seasoned it with a little salt, garlic and onion powder, spooned it into a container and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Using two quarts of milk is supposed to make approximately 3/4 lbs. of cheese, and this looked about right:

Goat Milk Cheese Storage


I'm very pleased with the mild, seasoned taste. It has been too easy to eat a lot of crackers topped with the cheese at one sitting! But I'd rather have to combat will power than have to hold my nose closed and gag it down :)

Goat Milk Cheese on Crackers


All of our does have dried up in preparation to deliver more kids in the Spring, if the Lord wills; so this was my last opportunity to attempt making goat cheese until then; and I'm very thankful it turned out. I'm excited (and not as scared) at the future possibilities! What a great way to preserve milk; and we are, as always, very thankful for God's direct provisions. Believe me, I know I probably could have done this much better and more "properly;" but, hey, it worked for me; and it's food! I hope to continue to improve with more practice and maybe somebody out there can learn from my mistakes. Bon appetit!

Susan

11 comments:

debbieo said...

Susan,
You did good. I have made this kind of cheese before and had failures too. It is a good tasting cheese and very easy once you know what to do. I think you called it right to add a little more vinegar and rennet since the milk had been frozen.
I cant wait until we get goats again. I am sorry I sold mine.
take care
debbieo

Anonymous said...

Hello Susan!

Thank you for sharing this "process" of making goat cheese. It was very interesting to me and educational. Yes, once a process is tried and delivers some success, it's nice to be more at ease with trying it again.

Will pray your goats deliver heartily and healthfully this Spring, according to the Lords' Will. How exiting to anticipate the herd increase and all the Lords' provisions through it.

Beth

David and Susan Sifford said...

Debbieo and Beth,

I appreciate and am encouraged by your comments and your prayers for healthy goats. Thanks very much and may God bless your efforts as well.

Susan

Jennifer Hancock said...

Susan,
I have made a type of cheese before that didn't use rennet. Boil the milk as you did for your cheese and when the milk thickens on the top, drain in a collinder on top of another pot. Put the bottom pot on to boil again. repeat the draining again . The cheese will crumble (a dry cottage cheese sort), not hold shape. We salted it lightly and ate it over salads and soups.

Jennifer Hancock said...

Correction- also added vinegar. sorry.

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Jennifer!

Hey, thanks very much for that variation on the recipe. That sounds great and I look forward to trying it.

Susan

Ann from KY said...

Congrats on your cheese making! It looks yummy to me! I wanted to pass along a good cheese site. It is:
http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser/Cheese/cheese.html
I think this fellow wrote the Junket directions. Anyhow, he seems to be in the real world with making cheese, etc. Had a cheap homemade cheese press you can improvise. God Bless, Ann from KY

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Ann,

Wow, that link is a gold mine! Thank you so much for taking the time to send your encouraging comment and pass along such helpful info. I look forward to thoroughly checking it out and gleaning as much as possible.

Susan

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the good post. We are in the process of getting a cow-share type of thing going so when we start getting raw milk Beth is going to go nuts with the cheese making.

-Todd

Charmaine the goat milk gal said...

Keep going and do not give up. Normally, it is recommended that we start our first goat milk cheese attempt with something a little simpler like Paneer.

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello Charmaine!

Thanks very much for your comment. I have never heard of Paneer and look forward to making it. I appreciate the tip! I also look forward to checking out your website. It appears to provide a wealth of goat milk info. Thank you again!

Susan