Chèvre is a soft cheese made from goat milk and is perhaps one of the easiest cheeses to make at home.
- 1 gallon goat milk (do not use UHT/UP milk)
- 1 packet chèvre starter culture OR use single-ingredient starter culture and a separate rennet
- Mesophilic starter culture, (choose one):
- Rennet, (choose one):
- Butter muslin (very fine-weave cheesecloth) or a tight-weave dish towel
- A large pot with a lid (if metal, be sure it's non-reactive such as stainless steel)
- A wooden spoon
- A thermometer
- A chèvre shaping mold (optional)
Step One: Culture the Milk
Option #1: Using the Chèvre Starter Culture
- Heat the milk to 86°F. (Please note: if using raw milk, this process will not pasteurize the milk.)
- Remove the milk from the heat and thoroughly stir in the packet of chèvre culture. (Please note: these ready-to-use packets contain both starter culture and rennet.)
- Cover the pot and leave the mixture to culture for 12 hours at approximately 72°F (generally kitchen room temperature).
- After 12 hours, the cheese should look like yogurt (solid if tipped but still relatively soft). You may see some whey separating from the cheese. The whey is a mostly clear liquid.
Option #2: Using a Mesophilic Starter Culture and Rennet
- Heat the milk to 75°F. (Please note: if using raw milk, this process will not pasteurize the milk.)
- Remove the milk from the heat and allow the mesophilic culture to dissolve on the surface of the milk for approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Once the starter culture is dissolved, thoroughly incorporate it into the milk using up-and-down strokes with your cheese spoon.
- Add the rennet mixed with water. Using up-and-down strokes (don't stir!), incorporate the rennet into the milk. Do not over-mix.
- Cover the pot and allow the mixture to culture for 14 to 16 hours at approximately 72°F (generally kitchen room temperature).
- After 14 to 16 hours, the cheese should look like yogurt (solid if tipped but still relatively soft). You may see some whey separating from the cheese. The whey is a mostly clear liquid.
Step Two: Strain the Cheese
- Place a piece of butter muslin (doubled) in a colander in a bowl. Gently spoon the chèvre into the butter muslin. Gather up the corners of the muslin and tie knots to secure.
- Hang the butter muslin filled with the chèvre over a bowl so the whey can drain. An easy way to do this is to tie the butter muslin around a cupboard handle so the bowl to catch the whey can rest on the counter underneath.
- Allow the chèvre to drain for 6 to 12 hours to reach the desired consistency (see below).
- Flavor chevre with herbs if desired. You can mix in fresh or dried herbs. Alternatively you can mold the chèvre then roll it in the herbs.
- You can choose not to drain the chèvre at all which will leave you with a delicious and thick yogurt. (This is a great method for making goat yogurt.) A small amount of draining (less than 6 hours) will yield an even thicker yogurt-type of food.
- Drain the chèvre for approximately 6 hours for a soft, spreadable cheese.
- Drain the chèvre for approximately 12 hours for a cream cheese consistency.
Uses for Chèvre
- Spread on your favorite crackers, bagels, toast, etc. as you would cream cheese.
- Use recipes in place of other soft cheeses such as ricotta, mascarpone, cream cheese, etc.
- Use in place of sour cream.
- Layer in a parfait with fruit and honey
- Add a little sweetener and use chèvre to frost cupcakes (particularly delicious on carrot cake in place of cream cheese frosting).
Chèvre will stay good in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Chèvre can be frozen but be sure to:
- Salt the chèvre well prior to freezing.
- Remove as much of the whey as possible (use a cheese press if you have one available); the drier the chèvre, the better it will freeze.