Hi, I’m Wardeh (‘Wardee’) from GNOWFGLINS. I was thrilled when Ren asked me to guest post on his blog. It took me awhile to decide what I would share, but I finally settled on my recipe for a no-mess, can’t-go-wrong, delicious, and beneficial cheese – raw chevre.
Chevre, a soft spreadable cheese from raw goat milk, is one of the easiest cheeses to make. My family started raising our own milk goats in the late spring of 2009. I’ve made many batches of chevre since then – at least one per week, though sometimes more. We consume it daily, either plain or in other dishes, but I’ve also managed to fill the freezer with finished batches at a fantastic rate. Want some?
Not only delicious, raw cheeses are incredibly good for us. They are full of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. Often, people who are lactose-intolerant can eat raw cheese. This is because during the culturing stage, bacteria consume much of the lactose. The cheese also contains lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, which helps if there is any lactose left. It is marvelous that raw dairy foods bring with them the necessary enzymes to aid digestion.
I’ve made it my mission to find easy-to-make cheeses. Chevre fits the bill not only because it is simple and almost hands-off, but because it only requires a 1/2 gallon of raw goat milk to make it. By the way, you can make chevre with raw cow’s milk. The process will be the same, just you can’t call it chevre any more. This recipe makes 2 to 3 cups of chevre. I do it bag-style, rather than in little cup molds.
Stage 1: Culturing
Put the milk in a half gallon or gallon size jar. The milk’s temperature doesn’t matter. I usually start chevre with milk warm from milking, but I’ve also done it with milk cold from the refrigerator. Sprinkle the mesophilic culture on it and stir in with a wooden spoon (not metal).
Put the 1/4 cup of water in a little jar or cup. Add one drop of the double-strength liquid rennet. Stir well. Take one tablespoon of this solution and add it to the jar of milk. Stir well. If using regular strength liquid rennet, mix one drop of it with the water, but add 2 tablespoons of the solution to the milk and stir well.
This solution will keep in the refrigerator for one or two weeks. If it smells disagreeable, toss it. (It will smell like nothing when it is still good.)
Cover the jar of milk with a cloth napkin and secure with a rubber band. Let sit out at room temperature to culture for 24 hours.
Stage 2: Dripping
Place the colander inside a pot or bowl. Make sure it is big enough to catch up to a quart of the whey that will drip out. Layer the two pieces of cheesecloth in the colander.
The milk should now be thick and gelled, much like a firm yogurt. Transfer these curds into the cheesecloth. It is okay if they fall apart. Do it gently, but don’t be concerned about keeping them all in one piece.
Tie up the opposite corners of the cheesecloth, making a bag to enclose the curds. Lay the ends of the cheesecloth on top of the bundle of curds in the colander. Don’t let the ends of the cheesecloth hang out of the colander, or the whey will drip down into a puddle on your counter (true story).
Leave this setup out at room temperature for 24 hours, during which time the whey will drip out and the curds will thicken.
Stage 3: Collecting
Untie the cheesecloth and check the consistency of the cheese. You may let it hang longer if you wish the cheese to thicken more. At this point, it is usually spreadable and soft, thicker than mayonnaise but not dry.
Transfer the chevre to a clean bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Stir. Adjust amount of salt to taste. Refrigerate.
Save and refrigerate the whey that drips out; it may be used in lacto-ferments.
Mix It Up
Besides spread plain and salty on scones or toast, I like to use chevre in some other yummy ways.
It has become my family’s favorite creamy salad dressing. Combine 1 cup of chevre with 1 cup of raw milk and 4 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar. Blend well, adding salt, pepper, garlic, and other herbs (parsley, dill, and chives are good) to taste.
I mix the chevre with a seasoning salt such as Herbamare, or my homemade version of it, for a delicious vegetable dip.
And it makes a great sour cream substitute. Blend the chevre with enough raw milk to make it the consistency you desire. It will thicken up in the refrigerator.
And that’s it! Chevre is a great cheese that anyone can make and everyone likes. I’ve enjoyed having this opportunity to write at Edible Aria; Ren’s blog is one of my favorite blogs, not just because of the fantastic foods he makes, but because he’s a sincere and caring person.
You can find me at my blog, GNOWFGLINS, where I write about how my family embraces “God’s Natural, Organic, Whole Foods, Grown Locally, In Season.” I’d love to see you there.