I gotta be honest and say that I didn’t think it would be so hard to make cheese from raw milk.
I’ve been making cheese for a few years with store bought milk and it was fairly easy for me. I assumed that having raw milk would not only make cheese making tastier but also easier.
I suddenly find that many of the recipes I’ve been using before, don’t work very well when I use my raw goat milk.
So I’ve been experimenting and adjusting them a bit and it’s getting better but I don’t feel that I have it down yet.
Anyway, I am so very thankful for having raw goat milk on the homestead.
A few months ago, I purchased two LaMancha does and one buck and they are all doing great. This is such an easy breed to raise… I plan to write more about them soon so stay tuned.
Only one of the does is in milk. I get a little over a quart per milking from her… So somewhere around two and a half quarts a day which is a bit over half a gallon.
This is enough for us (a family of six) probably because we don’t eat things like morning cereal and such. My kids sometimes drink chocolate milk or a cup of milk but not often.
A little bit of the milk goes in our coffee and the rest is left to make cheese. I haven’t bought milk at the store in a long time and it feels great. I’m still buying some cheese, however, I probably buy only half as much as I did before we had goats.
I think that one of the reasons making cheese with raw milk is a bit hard for me is because you can’t let goat milk sit for too long, even if it’s in the fridge.
After about three days, it gets this ‘goaty’ taste and then when you make cheese the taste gets even stronger.
I know there are a few ways around this. For example, some people say you can freeze your milk, not mix new milk with an older one, separate your buck from does and so on, but really you should try to work with fresh milk anyway. This means that I have to make cheese every other day and sometimes it’s hard to find the time.
The good thing is that I found a couple of kinds of cheese that takes me very little time to make and that I can then freeze.
The one I am going to share with you today is one of the two.
(** I meant to take a nice photo of a beautiful round block of cheese but I didn’t have time to do it right when I was finished making the cheese, so I put the cheese in the fridge and came back a couple of hours later with camera in hand… Almost half was gone! Oh well, what did I expect? LOL)
At the beginning of this year, when we went to visit family in Israel, we visited a ‘professional’ goat herder. Is there such a thing?
Anyway, this guy spends 10 hours a day herding his 120 goats. In my eyes, he is a professional, no college degree required.
He milks in the morning, opens the gate, travels by foot to the cliffs a few miles away, lets the goats eat, and after hours he uses the dogs to gather them and off they go back home where he will milk them again before finishing the day.
Yup! There are people who still live this way, isn’t that amazing?
His wife receives somewhere between 30 to 40 gallons of milk a day that she process into simple cheese or yogurt to sell.
She is a professional too, and she was kind enough to show me how she does that…
First, you add the milk to a pot.
If you have many goats and get, let’s say a gallon a day, and you want to process it, you can use the milk right after you milked your goat and it should be at the right temperature, still warm, around 70F or so.
Since I have to milk 2-4 times before I have enough milk to make cheese and since my milk is kept in the fridge, I have to warm it on the stove top first. I usually warm it to 80F before I continue.
While your milk is warming, add one drop of rennet per quart of milk into a 1/4 cup of cold water.
So, if you use 2 quarts of milk, add 2 drops of rennet into a 1/4 cup cold water.
If you use 4 quarts of milk, add 4 drops of rennet into a 1/4 cup of water… and so on (In this batch, I was using 4 quarts).
This is how I found I should use rennet in every recipe with my raw milk, 1 drop per quart in a little bit of cold water. There is no reason to use anymore.
When the milk reaches 80F, remove the pot from the heat, add your water/rennet solution and mix well with a slotted spoon.
Cover your pot and let it rest for an hour to coagulate.
After an hour, once your milk is set, use a long knife or a straight icing spatula to cut the curds.
Cut vertically into 1/2 inch wide rows and then again at a 90-degree angle, make sure your knife reaches all the way to the bottom of the pot.
After cutting, let your curds rest for a minute or two.
While your curds are resting, set a cheese mold over a plate (to catch the whey) next to the pot.
This can be a simple cheese mold, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a colander or even a reed basket, just make sure you clean it before using it.
I brought the basket in the picture above from Israel. I received it as a gift from the lady who taught me how to make this cheese.
After you cut the curds and they rest for a few minutes, it’s time to heat them.
Place your pot on the stove top and turn it to medium-high heat. Start by gently stirring with a slotted spoon…
After a few minutes, you will have to get there with your hand. Make sure to wear gloves so the hot water doesn’t hurt you.
Stir the curds, then let them rest a moment, stir them again, let them rest a moment… Then gently start collecting them…
Until all of them stick together and you can collect them in your hand into a big ball.
Transfer this ball to the mold and press a little to get most of the whey out.
Use cheese salt or kosher salt to cover the cheese from the outside. I sprinkle about a tablespoon of salt on the top and then lift the cheese out of the mold, turn it, and sprinkle the other side with salt before I put it back.
Don’t worry about the amount of salt. It will help the whey out and will make the cheese solid. If the cheese is too salty for you when you eat it you just wash it under cold water. It won’t ruin the cheese, it will just wash some of the salt away.
Cover your cheese with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge (while it’s still in the mold). It’s ready to eat pretty much immediately but you might want to let the salt dissolve first and the cheese to cool down a bit.
When we are ready to eat it, I take the cheese out of the mold and flip it on a clean plate so the round and nicer looking side is on top.
This cheese is so fresh it squeaks between your teeth. I cut thin pieces and we eat it as a snack or on toast or in salads.
It has a very gentle goat cheese taste and I love the texture. It’s not hard but not soft or spreadable either.
This is a regular cheese at our house. I am pretty sure you can do the same thing with raw cow’s milk as well but I’ve never tried. Also, remember that you can freeze it easily and it will last for a long time.
If you give this a try, comment below and let me know if you liked it. If there is a simple cheese you know about, please share in the comments below. There is still a lot for me to learn about cheesemaking, but I love to have a few simple recipes on hand for when there is no time to try new things.