When Louella Hill, the Milk Maid and author of Kitchen Creamery, and cheese educator Stephanie Soleil of Fromage Soleil visited me this spring, we made several cheeses from Louella’s book, including queso fresco, mozzarella, and fresh chèvre. Since fresh chèvre is absolutely one of those cheeses I could eat forever and ever, I want to share the recipe with you!
Yields 3 rounds
Time: 2 days
1 gal/3.8 L goat’s milk
2 Tbsp cultured buttermilk
1 drop CaCl2
1 drop rennet
Medium or fine (#60 or #90) cheesecloth or 3 small cheese forms (about 3 in. 7.5 cm in diameter and 4 in/10 cm in height)
Clean all your surfaces and equipment before making anything.
Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed pot and warm over medium neat to 76°F/24°C, stirring occasionally. It should only take a minute or two to reach this temperature. Remove from heat.
Pour the buttermilk directly into the warm milk. Stir gently for 1 minute, using an up-and-down motion.
While stirring, add the CaCl2, then the rennet. Stir for 30 seconds, then stop the motion of the liquid. Cover the pot and set in a warm, agitation-free place for 12-18 hours.
When the curd is set, you should see yellowish whey collecting at the side of the pot. Also look for an aromatic smell when you lift the lid. When pressed softly with a fingertip, the curd should be a tiny bit springy, but break under more pressure. Proceed with draining according to whether you’d like to use your cheese forms or create loosely packed tubs of cheese
For loose-packed tubs or logs: Rinse the cheesecloth in hot water and place over a colander set over a bowl or in the sink. Scoop the curds from the pot into the cloth. When all curds are in the colander, make a pouch by tying the corners of the cheesecloth together. Run a dowel or a long-handled wooden spoon under the knots and set over a pot so the pouch is suspended freely inside. Allow to drain at room temperature for 10-12 hours. For more rapid draining, gently shake the pouch to open up new channels for the whey to drain out about halfway through the draining time. Next, transfer the curds to a large bowl. Using your hands or a potato masher, mix the cheese to redistribute the moisture and homogenize the curd. Add salt slowly to taste, stirring as you do. Finally, pack the finished cheese into tubs or hand roll into logs. Cover tightly and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
For formed cheeses (what we did!): Instead of scooping the curds into cheesecloth pouches, set your clean cheese forms on a draining rack set in the sink. The volume of the form must accommodate the bulk of the initial curd. It will reduce as the whey drains off. Scoop the curds into the forms, making sure to fill each up to the top before starting to fill the next. When all the forms have been filled, let drain for about 1 hour. Gently flip so the top becomes the bottom, then continue draining. Drain at room temperature for 10-12 hours. After draining, sprinkle the top of each cheese with ¼ tsp salt. Let the salt soak in for 2 hours, then flip the cheeses and salt the other side, again about ¼ tsp each. If desired roll in herbs or apply vegetable ash for an interesting rind aesthetic.
When Louella and I made these, we did a scaled down version that yielded two rounds! The first one was gone about 15 minutes after the cheeses were ready, and the second was gone within the next 24 hours. M. Cheesemonger was lucky to get a little sliver.
If you want to learn all about home cheese making, I strongly encourage you to buy her book!! The instruction is clear, the recipes are tabbed by level (easy, medium, advanced), the photos are gorgeous, and Louella herself illustrated it! Thank you, Louella, for sharing your time and expertise with me!
This recipe was shared with Louella’s permission.
PS: If you love that blue and white plate, it is from Yonder by Linda Fahey!
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