FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. How do I determine when the chevre is ready to drain?
A. Goats milk fresh from the farm may be quite variable coming from different farms.
Because of this the time to form a proper curd wil vary. Variations may
also0 be found from thye same farm as the seasons change due to weather
and changing diet.
So how do we determine when the proper set is reached?
guidelins for 12 hours is simply a guide. The actual time may vary
substantially. What we need to look for is a firm curd with a very thin
layer of whey on the surface. What you will obseve during this
First the milk forms into the initial gel
Second a few drops of whey form on the surface
Next the why bgins to collect in small pools and clear whey appears between the curd and pot edge
Finally, the whey forms a thin layer on the surface and some cracks may develop in the curd body
At this point the curd is ready to drain.
This may be at 8 hours or it may be at 24 or more hours, it really depends on the milk and time of year.
The best plan is to watch the curd and drain/mold as you see it develop as described above.
If after the 6-12 hrs. the curd has not formed well or perhaps has overset with lots of whey on top,
check the temperature and times. More time or a bit warmer temp will
improve the weak curd formation. This may be extended to 24 or even 36
hrs in extreme cases. If the curd is too firm with much whey, then it
could be possible the milk had developed too much acid on its own before
making cheese. Also check the time and temp and reduce these if needed.
The ideal time to ladle and drain this cheese is when a bit of whey
(1/8-1/4") has pooled on top of the curd and perhaps the curd pulls
slightly away from the pot edge or cracks.
Fresh milk will perform differently as seasons and weather changes.
Q. I just started making goat cheese. At first I tried lemon. Then I tried vinegar. Didn’t like it. I just ordered your chevre culture and tried again. Better, but not excellent as most people report. Not sure what I am doing wrong. Rather than a fresh tangy flavor, it is more a sour-ish flavor, with a not so great after taste. The milk is fresh local organic, the goats are mostly the LaManche breed. We live in southwest Arizona where it is very arid. The goats do not graze but are penned and fed.
A. It may be that you allowed the cheese to ripen or drain too long. This will allow the acid to develop too much producing a sour/acid and dry cheese. Also make sure you watch the temp that this is done at because warmer temps will cause a faster acid development.
Q. I purchased chevre culture from you last year that I have kept in my freezer. I had some others left over previously from an earlier order a year or two before that I used first last year and that worked well. However, twice this spring in using a chevre culture that I got from you last year, there was a failure in getting the cheese that I expected. It didn't firm up as much and became more of a yogurt consistency such that essentially it went back to a liquid form when I poured it into my cheese colanders. This happened first 2 weeks ago and also two days ago. I have previously had very good results with my chevre production with your culture. Please advise.
A. Not a lot of details in the inquiry, such as your milk source, but if this is a local raw milk the problem could be early season milk. This can vary form year to year. This can also be the result of a raw milk that has not been used in the first day or so and hence develops its own character, mostly from proteins breaking down from natural lipase in the milk, as well as certain bacteria that do fine at low temperatures.
Also, when you do not see a proper curd forming, wait to see the whey rise slightly to the surface before cutting or ladling the curd. This can take an extra 12-24, or even more, hours. This is common in early and late season milk. If you do not see a firm curd then something may be inhibiting the culture (alkaline milk) or the cultures may be stressed for some reason. My guess is that you ladled the curd way to soon.
Q. We just started milking a friend’s goats and will get 2 gallons a week of milk. We made chevre this week using your mesophilic culture and love the flavor, but it’s pretty crumbly. I’m wondering whether we should use the chevre culture or if we should use some kind of mold to form it in. We hung the curds over a bowl after we’d poured off the whey through cheesecloth overnight. So should we switch cultures, use a mold after hanging, or do something else? We used 1/4 tsp culture and 4 drops rennet for the 2 gallons of milk. Thanks!
A. If the cheese tastes overly acid, you will want to reduce the culture amount or ripen for a shorter time before draining. If the cheese is just dry, drain the cheese for less time to retain more moisture.
Q. I just finished my first batch of chevre using the C20G- Chevre culture,top quality milk from Redwood Farms, and the recipe on your website. Temps maintained within 1.5 degrees. The cheese came out of the cheesecloth after 12 hours, clinging to the sides, kind of rubbery about the edges, softer in the center, and tasting rather bland.
I added 1.5 tsp salt which made it too salty to enjoy. The result is the consistency of cottage cheese that has been drained dry. Other than reducing the salt, do you have any suggestions to improve the taste and consistency next time?
A. I know Jennifer from Redwood Hill and the quality of her milk quite well. Your texture problem could be from draining at too warm a temp. The exterior dries too quickly, causing moisture to be trapped in the center. If you open the bag of draining curd midway and mix the curd it will be more homogenous. Also, the bland flavor may be due to not ripening the curd long enough before draining. Try letting the curd set a bit longer before draining. You are looking for a thin layer of whey on top when it is ready. The salt can easily be adjusted to taste next time.
Tip from a customer!!
"Just a tip for long incubations requiring
temperatures of 86-100F: If your oven has a Proofer setting, you can use
that. If not, you can use a poor mans proofer, in which you boil 2 cups
of water in a pot or large glass measuring cup, cover it and put it in
the oven for 15 minutes while you heat your milk. Remove the pot and put
in the cultured milk. The oven will stay a balmy 92-96F for hours!!"
Jim, our tech man, had this to add: There are many other ways to do this
as well. Mine is to use an insulated cooler with bottles of warm water
to hold the temps. This will keep your oven open for use and you can
move the cooler out of the way.
Making Chevre, Freezing It and Using it in Recipes
Spring means goat's milk!
And goat's milk means chevre. Lots of it! As you know, sometimes you just can't eat it all. In fact, you make so much that you have to freeze some of it. Not to worry! It will change texture slightly but it will still be great in recipes like the ones below.
When you freeze your cheese, wrap it carefully in waxed paper or plastic wrap and put it in a freezer bag. Plan to use it within a few months. When you are ready to use it, leave it in the fridge for one or two days to thaw gradually.
Simple enough? Of course, you have to make the cheese first, so here's Jessica Durff's description of a basic chevre recipe (I think her photography is amazing!). Then, after you've made it, you're ready for the following 4 recipes, originally presented by chefs at their fabulous websites (they were kind enough to share them with us). All of these chefs have many more recipes at their sites, so check them out!
Fresh ChevreBy Jessica Durffapplesandbutter.com
2 quarts pasteurized goat milk
1/2 packet of chevre culture meant for 1 gallon of milk
Lots and lots of cheesecloth
Heat the goat milk in a stainless steel pot to 86F and whisk in the chevre culture. Remove from heat and let sit at room temperature for 12 – 24 hours. I let mine sit for about 20 because I kept waiting for the curds to form. It turns out that hard curds will not form, but you will notice a much thicker, creamier texture to the milk.
When you see that thickness, drain the milk in a colander lined with lots of cheesecloth set over a bowl. Rather than pouring the milk through the colander straight from the pan, use a ladle to gently pour it in. You may only be able to fit half the milk in at a time. That’s fine. You’ll hang the first batch before laying out more cheesecloth to drain the second.
After the milk has drained slightly and you see some whey collected in the bowl, gather the cheesecloth together and secure with twine (as shown in the picture above). Use the twine to hang the cheese where it can continue to drain for 10 hours.
Do not try to rush the draining process, it takes time. Repeat until all the milk has been drained and is hanging. After 10 hours has passed, open up your cheesecloth packets to find creamy, tart, fresh (!) goat cheese. Salt and season to taste or use as is.
Goat Cheese Macaroni
By Rachelle (Shelley) Teller
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk, heated
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
8 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup roasted garlic
1 tsp. chopped thyme
1 tsp. chopped oregano
1 cup Mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup fresh, grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 325F. Cook macaroni in salted boiling water until just tender, drain. Run under cold water, then drain very well and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, melt butter, then add flour stirring to combine. Cook 2 to 3 minutes on moderate heat. Add milk, slowly stirring. Simmer 10 to 20 minutes until flour taste has gone. Strain sauce into bowl and cool. Soak tomatoes in hot water until soft, slice into 1/4-inch strips. In a large mixing bowl, place macaroni and half of white sauce. Crumple goat cheese over top. Add tomatoes, garlic, thyme and oregano. Work together gently by hand. Add Mascarpone and heavy cream. Season with black pepper and salt. The mix should be soft but not sloppy, if it is too dry add more white sauce. Put in 10 inch baking dish. In food processor, grind bread and garlic together, then add olive oil and parsley, and pulse in processor just to mix and sprinkle on top of macaroni. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.
Ready in 1 hour, 15 min prep
Potato-Goat Cheese Gratin
By Joe Schreiber
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced leeks
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 1/4 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/8" thick slices
4 ounces (about 1 cup) crumbled goat cheese
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 ounce (about 1/4 cup) fresh grated Parmesan cheese
In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-low. Stir in leeks and cook, stirring occassionally, until tender and beginning to brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F.
In a medium bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of the milk into the flour. Pour in remaining milk - whisk in salt, pepper, nutmeg and garlic until combined.
Arrange of the potato slices in a 2 quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Scatter the top with the cooked leeks and crumbled goat cheese. Pour half of the milk mixture over the top. Arrange remaining potatoes over the top - pour remaining milk mixture all over. Cover pan with foil and place into the oven to bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together panko and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Scatter onto the tender potatoes and continue to bake, uncovered, until the topping has browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Makes about 4 to 8 servings, depending if served as a main dish or side.
Spinach Goat Cheese Lasagna
by Deborah Mele
3 (14 oz) cans chopped Italian tomatoes
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
3 cups unbleached flour
4 large eggs
pinch of salt
1 (16 oz) bag fresh spinach
1 (6 oz) log goat cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
To make the pasta, mound your flour on a large pastry board, or the counter with the salt, and make a well in the center. Break the eggs into this well, and start to scramble each egg with a fork as it is being added. Start to incorporate the eggs and flour by slowly bringing more flour in from the inside edges of the well. Continue adding the flour to the eggs until they are no longer runny. Using your hands now, bring the outside edges in, forming a large mass on your board. Use only the amount of flour needed to form a soft ball.
Begin to knead the ball of dough as you would bread, pushing it down with the heel of your hand. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and satiny, for about 5 to 7 minutes. Wrap the prepared dough in plastic wrap, and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
Use a pasta roller or roll by hand to make long sheets of pasta 1/4 thick. I use my Kitchen Aide table mixer with the pasta attachment and roll my pasta to the third last position or to number 6 on the dial. After rolling, cut into 12 inch long strips. Precook in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place in ice water. Dry and set aside on clean kitchen towels.
To make the sauce, cook the garlic in the oil until it is tender. Finally add the tomatoes, basil and seasonings. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes until thickened.
Cook the spinach by either steaming it or by using the microwave. Allow to cool and squeeze to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Coarsely chop.
To assemble the lasagne, add about 1/2 cup of sauce to the bottom of a large lasagne pan. Add a little water and mix. Make an overlapping layer of the noodles across the bottom of the pan. Spread a large spoonful of sauce on top, making sure the noodles are well covered. Take about a quarter of the spinach and layer on top of the sauce. Sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top. Add the next layer of noodles, then sauce, then break up some goat cheese on top. Sprinkle with some of the parmesan cheese. Continue layering in this fashion, alternating spinach and goat cheese layers. Spoon enough sauce to cover the top, and then sprinkle on the last of the parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Drop small dollops of the goat cheese to finish. Cover the dish with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Preheat oven to 350F. If the lasagna was refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature before baking. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil topping and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the lasagna is bubbling. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.
No-Bake Lemon Vanilla Goat Cheese Cheesecake
By Nathan Lyon
Have on Hand:
one 8-ounce bag Mi-Del brand gingersnaps (I use my blender to blend them, or crush the gingersnaps in a heavy zip bag) 2 cups
4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, divided
1.5 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
11 ounces goats cheese (chevre), room temperature
zest of 1 lemon, wash the lemon first, 1 teaspoon
1 nine-inch spring-form pan, sprayed lightly with non-stick spray
For the crust, in a small bowl mix to combine the gingersnap crumbs with 1 tablespoon brown sugar, plus the melted butter. Dump that right on in the prepared spring-form pan, then, using the inverted plastic cap of the non-stick spray can, evenly press the crust into the bottom of the sprayed 9-inch spring form pan, then pop it into the freezer which will help the crust set while you make the filling.
Using the whisk attachment of an immersion blender, hand mixer, or stand-mixer, whisk together the remaining sugar, vanilla extract, plus the cream, until a very thick whipped cream is made. Thicker than normal. Add the room temperature chevre, the honey, plus the lemon zest and continue to whisk until incorporated. Scoop the lemon-vanilla goat cheese deliciousness into the prepared spring-form pan. Spread it evenly, then smooth the top off.
Wrap with plastic wrap and back in the fridge it goes. Chill for 7 to 9 hours, or, heck, over-night wouldn’t hurt either. When serving, I like to have a pitcher of hot water and a towel at the ready. Un-mold the cheesecake, then soak the knife in the hot water for 30 seconds. Wipe dry then slice into the cake. Return the knife to the water, wipe dry, and cut. You get the picture. Nice even slices. Serve with a drizzle of honey, plus some picked mint would be nice too, don’t you think? Heck yeah! Enjoy.