Milk heated to just the right temperature, then mixed with a starter culture, is the basis for the stunning and endlessly diverse array of cheeses found across the world. To me this is not just extraordinary; it’s alchemy… food alchemy!
Store-bought vs. homemade goat cheese: no contest!
We’ve all been conditioned to buy our cheeses at the market. But you may have noticed—whenever it’s possible, I love making the food my family eats in my own kitchen. Don’t worry; I won’t be tackling (or publishing) Camemberts or aged cheddars any time soon—I’d rather purchase those gems from local artisans. But when it comes to fresh cheeses, the work is worth it. You just cannot compare a homemade cheese to the plastic-wrapped stuff found in supermarkets.
Making cheese at home is easier than you might think
I started making my own ricotta a couple of years ago, and I’ve never looked back. Then my interest expanded to include fresh goat cheese. Now I’m experimenting with other fresh cheeses (fromage blanc is next!). I find it to be pure joy.
This fresh goat cheese recipe is so simple. Three ingredients and a bit of time will give you the lightest, freshest, creamiest goat cheese you’ve ever tasted.
So here’s a promise: once you start making your own fresh cheeses, you’ll be hooked!
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Homemade fresh goat cheese
makes 1 lb (455 g)
- Use non-reactive cookware and utensils (stainless steel, ceramic, glass or plastic) to make your cheese.
- Remove the milk from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Place the milk in a heavy-bottomed non-reactive pot. Heat the milk over medium-low heat until it reaches 86 ºF (30 ºC). Gently stir the milk as it warms. Remove the pan from the stove and sprinkle the C20G starter over the whole surface of the milk. Let stand for 5 minutes to rehydrate the starter. Then whisk the milk for 20 seconds to distribute the starter evenly. Cover the pan and let stand at room temperature, undisturbed, for 12 to 18 hours until the curds form a solid mass and look like thick yogurt. The ideal room temperature for ripening the cheese is between 70 ºF and 75 ºF (21 ºC and 24 ºC).
- Wet the butter muslin with spring water and squeeze all the water out. Line a medium colander with the damp cheesecloth and suspend it over a large bowl or pot. Carefully ladle the curds into the colander. Cover and let drain for 2 hours. Sprinkle the curds with the salt and gently incorporate using a small silicone spatula or a fork. Grab the ends of the butter muslin and tie them into a knot. Suspend the cheese over a large bowl or pot for 4 to 8 hours, depending on how thick you’d like your goat cheese to be. (The longer you drain the cheese, the thicker it will get.) Once the cheese has reached the desired consistency, use it right away or transfer to a container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
- Cook’s note: The butter muslin can be reused many times. Once you’ve made your cheese, wash it thoroughly in warm soapy water, rinse it several times and hang it to dry. Now it’s ready for your next batch!
Here’s a fun way to serve your fresh goat cheese: Spoon the cheese into a glass jar. Top with minced fresh thyme and drizzle with a fruity olive oil, as shown in the photo below. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread or crackers.