by Lissadell Cohen-Serrins
If the words “homemade” and “cheese” spoken together conjure up images of Italian grandmothers kneading away endlessly at giant balls of mozzarella or wacky grey-haired scientists conducting dairy-related experiments in incubators, then fear not. Fresh goat cheese is extremely simple to make (it takes about an hour), tastes amazing and is actually healthier than cow-based dairies. Although in the United States we consume mostly cow milk and cow milk products, 65-70% of the world turns to goat milk for dairy products. Scientific studies suggest that goat milk is much closer to human milk than cow milk, which may be one of the reasons that goat products are much less likely to cause allergies. In fact, many people with lactose intolerance can eat and drink goat-based dairy products without problem. Goat milk also has 13% more calcium than cows milk, 47% more Vitamin A and almost triple the niacin!
The only specialty items that you’ll need to make your own goat cheese is a small food thermometer (make sure it goes up to 200 degrees), twine, a large piece of cheesecloth and of course, goat milk. The lemon juice in this recipe acts as a curdling agent, making this cheese completely vegetarian via the absence of rennet.
This recipe will yield a small batch of firm, mild goat cheese. Serve with crackers and tomatoes as a casual appetizer, or for a visual stunner, use to make Beet and Herbed Goat Cheese Towers. Watch your guests jaws drop when you tell them you made the cheese. You don’t have to tell them how easy it was. Now, get ready to impress…
1 quart pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) goat milk
Juice of 1 lemon, pulp and seeds removed
Fresh black pepper
Line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth. The cheesecloth should cover the entire colander and come over the edges. Set lined colander in the sink to be used later.
Over a medium flame, heat the goat milk in a sauce pan. Stir frequently to prevent scalding.
Once the milk begins to get foamy, insert the thermometer. The temperature should read 180 degrees (this will take up to about 15 minutes).
Reduce heat to low and sir in the lemon juice. The milk should begin to separate into white curds and yellowish/greenish whey. Expect a significantly larger amount of whey than curds.
Remove pan from heat and carefully pour into the cheesecloth lined colander , straining the curds from the whey.*
Pull the sides of the cheesecloth up around the curds and gently twist to squeeze out any excess whey. Use the twine to secure the cheesecloth. Simply set the ball of curds back in the strainer to continue draining and firm up, or tie to a wooden spoon and suspend over a deep bowl. Allow to hang until liquid ceases to drip from the bundle, about 30 minutes.
Remove cheesecloth and transfer goat cheese to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. At this point you can also add fresh lemon zest, minced garlic, or fresh herbs.