the cheese logs

I’ve been threatening to make cheese for a full calendar year. Then one day, when I was eating a massive birthday hangover breakfast at Adel’s Diner in Healdsburg, I got a text message from my roommates saying: “pick up goat milk on your way home.” This being my life, I didn’t even flinch.

When I got in, a full complement of cheesemaking equipment awaited me. Happy birthday. No written words could ever possibly capture how excited I was and still am.

Approximately 40 minutes later, I was making goat cheese.

And so we’re off:

  • 1 quart of local goat’s milk (pasteurized this time, alas)
  • 1/16 tsp of culture
  • 16 drops of calcium chloride diluted in a tablespoon of water
  • 8 drops of rennet diluted in a tablespoon of water

heat milk to 86 degrees F.

remove from heat

stir in culture

give 20 gentle stirs

wait 5 minutes

add calcium chloride

stir

add rennet

stir

cover

set aside in room of stable 72 ish degrees for 12-24 hours, longer for stronger.

Over the course of the next couple of days, I drained off the liquid every 12 hours, moving the cheese a bit each time: first from bowl to slotted molds, leaving the whey behind. Then out of the molds and straight onto a draining rack. Then I salted the outsides. Then I wrapped them in cheesepaper. Each of these adjustments in 12-hour increments.

Out of my quart of milk, I got 8 oz of goat cheese. 8! Two, small, medallion shaped rounds. We devoured one instantly and I hung onto one for a few weeks’ aging.

The verdict:

Flavor: was good but not great. I want something stronger and much goatier. Next time, I’ll try different bacteria cultures and I’ll extend the initial aging period before draining off the whey, to strengthen the flavor.

Texture: okay, but not great. More like a mozarella. I wanted it to be drier, pastier. I’m looking into different versions of the recipe to see if I can accomplish this.

The cheese I aged longer was definitely better on both fronts, though still lacking a bit.

Prognosis: more determined than ever. As soon as the winemaking lets up, the cheesemaking can begin anew.

Side note: I have three (3) books about cheese and fermentation on my bedside table. Book reviews to follow. As this page becomes . . . better.

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