Ready to learn how to make goat cheese?
When it comes to goat cheese or Chèvre, there’s no in-between: You either love it or hate it.
Fresh goat cheese is known for its strong flavor and creamy texture similar to that of cream cheese. And if you own milk goats, it’s a great way to use any excess.
Related Read: Raising Goats the Natural Way: All You Need to Know!
For the goat cheese lover in you, learn how to make goat cheese in the comfort of your own home.
As for those who are less convinced of the craze of goat cheese, don’t give up on Chèvre just yet. You be surprised to know that you enjoy your homemade variety more than the store-bought counterpart.
A Brief History of Goat Cheese
The story of Chèvre begins in none other than France. It wasn’t until 1935 that the first goat cheeses appeared in France — well after the dairy company Soignon was founded in 1895 in the Poitou-Charentes region. The area is known as one of the birthplaces of goat cheese along with the Centre and Rhônes Alpes regions.
Today, there are over 120 different kinds of goat cheeses available in many shapes and flavors. Thanks to the 2009 law, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), cheesemakers must produce cheese following the expertise passed down from generation to generation. Eurial is the #1 goat cheese producer in France today.
Related Read: Goat Breeds from A-Z
Different Types of Goat Cheese
There are many different types of goat cheeses out there. Learn about the main categories here.
Fresh Goat Cheese
Also known as Chèvre, this is the original goat cheese that is soft and spreadable. At your local cheese shop, you’ll find it in logs, pucks, or rounds. Keep an eye out for Chevrot, Petit Billy, and Bucheron if you’re interested in this variety.
Ash-Covered Goat Cheese
Ash-covered goat cheese has a thin bluish-gray rind made of ash. The rind protects the cheese and gives it its visual aesthetic. At your local cheese shop, look for Selles-sur-Cher, Sainte-Maure de Touraine, and Acapella. A popular cheese in this category, the Californian Humboldt Fog has a line of ash through the middle of the cheese.
The ash is absolutely edible and neutralizes acidity.
Aged Goat Cheese
This includes any goat cheese that has a semi-hard or hard texture. In most cases, it has a less tangy, “goaty” flavor. Rather, the flavor ranges from nutty to sweet or sharp. Some of these are also ash-covered.
In cheese shops, keep an eye out for milk gouda, Garrotxa, and Drunken Goat.
Ingredients and Equipment Needed for Goat Cheese
There aren’t many ingredients needed to make your own goat cheese. All you need for most homemade recipes is goat milk, culture, and salt. If you don’t want to use culture, add either lemon juice or vinegar.
For the equipment, you’ll need:
- A thermometer
- Knife to cut curds
- Spoon or ladle to stir curds
- A large colander
- Butter muslin or cheesecloth
How to Make Goat Cheese Without Culture
If you want to make goat cheese without culture, follow these simple steps.
First, heat the goat’s milk until it reaches a gentle boil.
Turn the heat off and add the lemon juice or white vinegar.
Let the cheese set for 10 minutes until curds form.
Pour the curds into a cheesecloth or butter muslin.
Bundle the cheesecloth around the curds and hang the bundle, so the moisture drips out for 1-2 hours.
Mix the curds with salt, dried herbs, and other seasonings.
Steps on How to Make Goat Cheese with Culture from Scratch
Follow these simple steps and learn how to make goat cheese at home.
Acidify and Heat Milk
Like many creations in cooking and baking, making homemade goat cheese is a chemical process.
You’ll start by warming your goat milk to 68-72°F (20-22°C). Place your milk in a pot or sink of warm water or, if it’s fresh from the goat, allow the milk to cool naturally to this temperature after about an hour or so.
Some suggest heating the milk to 86°F while others say that at 72°F the temperature is just right to slow the acid production and curd formation for a more textured curd.
Add your culture at this point.
If you want to know how to make goat cheese that is smooth, here’s a trick.
To prevent the powder from caking and sinking in clumps, sprinkle the powder evenly across the surface of the milk and then allow about 2 minutes for the powder to re-hydrate before stirring it.
Now you’ll leave the milk to sit 6-12 hours as the culture works and the rennet — a set of enzymes that curdles milk — coagulates the curd. The thermal mass of milk should keep it warm.
It’s normal for the milk to drop a few degrees in temperature. The longer the curd sets, the more acid will be produced.
Drain Curds and Release Whey
When a good-quality curd has formed, you’ll see a thin layer of whey over the curd mass.
You may now drain the whey using a butter lined colander with a ladle or slotted spoon.
If you want to know how to make goat cheese that is sweet or tangy, the secret lies in your draining time.
The amount of time needed for draining is about 6 hours at 68-72°F, but it depends on the flavor of cheese you want. Less time will yield a sweeter and moister cheese while more time will yield a drier and tangier cheese.
Keep in mind that bacteria culture is still working with the whey present — meaning the whey will convert the lactose into lactic acid.
The time of draining and temperature of the room determine how much whey drains from the curd. This period can take as long as 12-36 hours at a temperature of 68-72°F.
Higher temperatures promote gas formation and excessive moisture loss. Lower temperatures inhibit whey drainage and produce a moist cheese with short shelf life.
Salting and Finishing
When you have drained your cheese to your liking, salt the cheese and refrigerate your Chèvre. The salt will enhance the flavor, but more importantly, it will slow and eventually stop the bacteria from producing excessive acid.
About 1.5-2 teaspoons of cheese salt should do the trick.
You can also add some herbs to your liking with the salt.
Refrigerate your cheese to slow the bacterial process. Store it in a bowl with a cover and enjoy by eating raw or cooking.
How long does soft goat cheese made with rennet last? It should be consumed within 10 days.
Using Larger Bacterial Culture Packs and Liquid Rennet
If you want to learn how to make goat cheese for commercial sale, you’ll need to use more bacterial culture.
Variations of Bacterial Culture
There are two variations of bacterial culture you can use when making Chèvre.
The first is a simple acid-producing type, such as a small pack of C101 or a large pack of MA011. Use this variation to focus on milk character as its primary function is to convert lactose to lactic acid.
For a more complex buttermilk flavor, use the MM100 large pack that has a buttery flavor, and a small amount of C02 gas production for a more open and lighter texture. This bacterial culture is best suited to the moister and sweeter versions of Chèvre. This will give your cheese a lighter flavor.
Coagulation of Larger Bacterial Culture
For 1/16 teaspoons of bacterial culture, you’ll need 15-20 hours for coagulation. For 1/32 teaspoons of bacterial culture, wait 20-28 hours for coagulation.
Learn how to make goat cheese to the desired texture you’re looking for by paying attention to coagulation time.
The longer the coagulation time, the more cohesive curd you’ll have, retaining more moisture in the draining process. Since the listed cultures do not have any liquid rennet, you’ll need to add a small amount about 2 drops to as much as 10 drops per gallon of milk.
The more rennet you use, the closer the texture comes to a firm rennet coagulated cheese.
Be sure to use the bare minimum amount of rennet in order to prevent a tough curd texture. If you get a spongy textured cheese, you need to use less rennet on the next go.
Molding the Chèvre
The Chèvre can be molded into a variety of forms after draining such as square or round forms. On top of these forms add a teaspoon of kosher salt. Be sure to keep them on an open-air shelving unit with a temperature of 60-65°F with a fan to move air over the cheeses.
Surface Treatment and Aging
Allow the Chèvre to ripen with the added surface ripening cultures. As the cheese ages, molds will grow on the surface, producing enzymes that change the pH and general curd structure from the surface inwards. Some of these molds include natural yeast.
Storing Your Homemade Goat Cheese
When you’re finished using your goat cheese to flavor bread or meat, be sure to store your goat cheese in wax paper in an airtight container. Discard goat cheese when it gets bad.
How do you know goat cheese is bad? You’ll know it’s going bad when you see bright yellow mold growing on it.
Enjoy Your Homemade Goat Cheese Among Family and Friends
The best part of learning how to make goat cheese is the company you enjoy your goat cheese with after your labor.
Invite your family and friends for a round of goat cheese pizza or baguette with goat cheese on top.
Just be sure to enjoy the delicious taste of this cheese among good company after your hard work.