Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chevre Tips and Techniques

Herbed Chevre

Chevre is a wonderful, fresh goat cheese that all dairy goat owners should be able to make and enjoy. This delightful little French cheese should be kept small, 8 ounces or less. Shapes can vary from logs to discs to pyramids.

1. Sanitation
Fill a clean stainless steel cheese making pot with hot water, bring to a boil, add all cheese making instruments (except the thermometer) and your cheese cloth, boil 5 minutes, drain into SS colander.

2. Milk
Of course your milk should come from a healthy properly fed doe milked with strict attention to hygiene.

For Chevre you can use freshly drawn milk or milk that is up to 36 hours old. I prefer mixing the previous evenings milk (which had been quick chilled and refrigerated) with warm morning milk. Chevre can also be made successfully with thawed frozen milk.

3. Milk Temperature
Temps for Chevre range from 84F to 86F. Pour milk into your SS cheese making pot and check the temp with your thermometer. If you need to warm the milk use a water bath. You can do this by filling your kitchen sink half way with warm water then setting the cheese making pot in the sink until the correct temperature is reached.

4. Culture
Although good Chevre can be made with buttermilk, MM100 (s.lactis, s.creamoris, biovar diacetylactis) really gives a much better flavor. While not traditionally used for Chevre, some people like to use Flora Danica, an aromatic culture that lends a buttery flavor to the cheese.

5. Rennet
Liquid animal rennet is the best but most expensive rennet for Chevre. Chymostar Classic is a microbial rennet that performs like animal rennet. Vegtable rennet is double strength. It is difficult not to use too much when making Chevre. Put 1 drop of rennet into 1/2 cup of cool water use 1/4 cup of the rennet water mixture per gallon of milk.

6. Setting the Curd
Usually it will take about 6-12 hours for the curd to properly set. If your room is cool, or your starting temp was on the cooler side it will take up to 12 hrs. Do not drain your cheese until you get a clean break. The first thing to look for is a thin layer of whey on top of the curd. Also you can tip your cheese pot to see that the curd holds together and moves cleanly away from the side of the pot. Finally, insert your thermometer at an angle into the curd and lift straight up. There should be no curd clinging to the thermometer and whey should fill the crack left in the curd.

7. Draining the Curd
I like to set my SS colander over a clean 5gal bucket. Put a muslin cheese cloth over the colander and ladle in the curd. It is tempting to pour the whole pot of curds and whey into the colander but trust me that is not a good idea. Not only does it get messy it is difficult to get a good drain. So just take your time with it. Once the curd is ladled into the cheese cloth you can lift the corners and tie them carefully together. At this point take a large spoon or a dowel and slide it through the knot at the top of the cheese. Lift it up, remove the colander and allow the handle to rest across the top of the bucket. Now your cheese is ready to drain. About three hours after the cheese has been draining lift it from the bucket, put the colander back on top of the bucket and set the cheese in it. Remove the handle, untie the knots and open the cheese cloth. Gently flip the cheese over. This will promote even draining and even moisture all the way through the curd. Tie the cheesecloth again, insert the handle, remove the colander and allow the cheese to drain for another 3 to 6 hours.

8. Working with the Curd
Once the curd has drained I like to let it set undisturbed in a dish, covered with plastic, in the refrigerator over night. In the morning I weigh the curd and add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of cheese. Then put it through a mixer or food processor. This will give you a nice creamy texture.

9. Working the Cheese into Logs
You now have a bowl of creamy delicious Chevre!! If you want to make logs put the Chevre back in the fridge to firm up while you get everything ready. Assemble your scale (if you want to weigh your cheese as you work) plastic wrap, herbs, spices etc. Season the Chevre if you desire. Pour the herbs or spice to coat the log onto a small plate. Place plastic wrap over the scale scoop 8oz of Chevre on to the plastic, fold it over the cheese and roll it into a log. As you open the plastic unroll the cheese onto the plate with herbs or spice. Roll and shape the log. Wrap the log in plastic and refrigerate.

Equipment I use when making Cheese. Culture and rennet are from The Dairy Connection


Marissa said...

You know, I've still never put my chevre through the blender at the end. I know my chevre is a bit "courser" than store-bought but I guess I've gotten used to it. I may just have to try the lender trick one day!

hoosier girl said...

Oh wow. Someday I want to make cheese. And own a goat. That just looked awesome. Thanks for the inspiration!

Pam's Pride said...

I can't wait until my does have their babies! I am waiting for the day that I am overflowing in milk just so I can make cheese and other goodies! Great Tutorial!

Christy said...

Thanks for the comments!!