Friday, October 16, 2009

Homestead Skills: Making Chevre (goat's milk cream cheese)

Cheese making is like bread making. It takes time and you have to be there to give it the attention it needs, when it needs it.

Sometimes there is extra milk for cheese making but I have to go out and can't be at home to give it the attention it needs for hard cheese. Making soft cheese like chevre or cream cheese is good for days like this.

Recipe for Chevre -- Makes 1 kg. (2.2 lbs.)

Chevre is soft goat cheese, like what is served in high end restaurants.

To make the chevre you need:

2 gallon pail with a lid
2 gallons of fresh, clean, strained goat's milk
1/4 tsp. mesophilic cheese starter (1/4 cup cultured buttermilk can be used instead)
3 drops of rennet diluted in 1/4 cup of cold water (not a drop more)
Cheese draining cloth
Colander to drain the cheese in
Cheese curd ladle (a flat spoon with holes)

All equipment and the cheese cloth should be clean and scalded with boiling water before starting. Put clean, strained milk in a 2 gallon pail -- I use raw milk. Add starter culture and stir in. Wait 30 min. Add diluted rennet, stir well. Cover and set aside for 12 hours, or until curd forms. Stir curd to break it up. Allow curd to settle in the pail. Line colander with scalded cheese cloth. Scoop curd from the pail into lined colander. Cover and set in a sink to drain. This will take 4 to 6 hours. I leave mine overnight.

If desired you can add 1/2 tsp. salt to the curd before draining or after draining. Divide the batch into 4 -- 250 gram (1/2 lb.) blocks, wrap and freeze as is or flavor according to your tastes, for immediate consumption.

Chevre can be spiced with chives, garlic and onion powder, dill and garlic, smoked salmon, toasted walnuts and dried cranberries, or flavoring of your choice for a savory spread.

Or use it in the place of cream cheese in your favorite cheese cake recipe.

Here's a recipe to take to a holiday potluck:

Easy Chevre Cheese Ball

Oil a small bowl with olive oil, sprinkle thoroughly with pepper and set aside.
Mix together thoroughly:
1/4 cup mayonnaise (you can make your own. Recipe follows)
1/2 cup chevre or other cream cheese
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder

Spoon into prepared bowl and firm into place. Cover and chill for 3 hours.
To serve invert bowl onto plate and remove cheese ball. Serve with crackers or chapatis.

Alternative:
Replace pepper with chopped and toasted walnuts. Replace garlic and onion powder with chopped, dried cranberries.

Mayonnaise (makes 2 cups -- 500 ml)
2 large eggs or 3 medium eggs, separated. Use only the yolks and set aside the whites for another recipe.
2 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt (if desired)

Mix together in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low.

1 1/2 cups. cold pressed oil -- I use olive oil.

With the mixer continuously mixing, add the oil, one tablespoon at a time by drizzling it into the egg/acid emulsion. After about 1/2 cup has been added slowly, you will see the emulsion begin to thicken. At that point the oil can be drizzled in a bit faster, always allowing the oil to mix in before adding more.

The mixture will thicken. It will be yellow if you are using farm, fresh eggs, and be rich in vitamin A, D and E. Add the salt or spices as you wish.

Put in a glass jar and store in the fridge. This will keep fresh for about a week. Makes 2 cups. To make a smaller amount decrease each ingredient proportionately.

Use as a base for salad dressings, add to other recipes, use as is.

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