Believe it or not, it’s really easy to make your own fresh goat cheese at home. All you need is a small number of ingredients and minimal equipment. Here’s the simplest, most basic way to do what’s known as a “farmer’s cheese”:
Half gallon of goat’s milk (the lower-pasteurized the milk, the better)
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 teaspoons white vinegar
Herbs or other flavorings
Stainless steel flat-bottomed pot
Stainless steel spoon
Strainer or colander
5 pound weight and flat plate (optional)
Prepare your materials. Sanitize your stainless steel pot and spoon by boiling a small amount of water in the pot with the spoon inside. Cut a piece of cheese cloth big enough to line your colander with several inches hanging over the side. Line the empty colander with the cheesecloth and place it in the sink. If your cloth isn’t wide enough, layer pieces of cheesecloth, with at least 5 inches of overlap between pieces.
Pour all your milk into the pot and heat it just to boiling. The very instant it starts to bubble vigorously, turn the heat off or you risk scalding your milk.
Pour your lemon juice or vinegar into the milk and stir gently for about 30 seconds.
Remove your spoon and let the pot of milk sit for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, check to see if the milk is forming curds. It should look like it is separating into solid chunks and a yellowish clear liquid. The solid bits are the curds, and the liquid is the whey.
Once a curd has formed, carefully remove the pot of milk and bring it to the sink. Very slowly and gently pour the curds and whey into the colander to drain. Allow the whey to drain off for 10 minutes or more.
When curds in the colander begin to look more solid and most of the whey has drained, mix in herbs, spices or other ingredients if you plan on using them. You can stop here and eat your cheese, if you like. At this point it will be similar to a ricotta cheese, very soft and spreadable. If you prefer a firmer cheese, proceed to Step 7.
Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and twist them closed, to create a draining bag for your curds.
If desired, you can place the flat plate on top of the curds and then place the weight on top of the plate to press the cheese overnight. The longer you allow it to drain, and the more moisture you remove, the firmer your cheese will be. Pressing the cheese overnight results in a much firmer cheese, similar to paneer.
That’s it! Now you have fresh, spreadable goat cheese free of additives. Once you have the basic recipe, you can add herbs, spices and flavorings for variety. Below are a few examples of ways to change this recipe up, but it practically begs for experimentation, so use whatever’s in season, have fun, and see what you can create!
Herb and Chive Goat Cheese
Add the following fresh herbs to basic goat cheese curds:
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 ½ teaspoons chopped rosemary
The Purple Goat
Add the following dried herbs to basic goat cheese curds:
2 tsp. edible lavender flowers
1 ½ teaspoons fennel seed
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Hot ‘n Spicy Goat Cheese
Add the following to basic goat cheese curds:
3 Tablespoons chopped green chile
2 cloves minced garlic
Recipe and photos by Melyssa Holik