Making Goat Cheese: Simplified Process
Making goat cheese is simply a matter of using an acidifying agent to separate the curds from the whey in goat milk. This article shows two simple methods to make goat cheese using only a few ingredients that are readily found at the local grocery store.
The art of making goat cheese ranges from a quick and simple process, to a long and complicated procedure. The soft spreadable form of goat cheese known as chevre is probably the best known of the soft cheeses; however, many other forms of soft cheeses can also be easily made with goat milk.
The large quantities of three fatty acids, known as capric, caproic and caprylic acid, are responsible for the unique aroma and tangy taste of cheese made from goat milk. Cheeses made from the milk of other animals can not duplicate the taste of goat cheese, because the other milks do not have the abundance of these three medium-chain fatty acids.
Water comprises almost 90% of milk. The water portion of milk is known as whey. Cheese is made from the solid portion of milk, called the curd.
To make cheese, the curd must be separated from the whey. This is accomplished by an acidification process, which can be initiated in one of two ways. The first method involves introducing and culturing bacteria in the milk. The bacteria ingest the milk sugar, lactose, and convert it into lactic acid. The degree of acidification is controlled by the length of time allowed for bacterial growth.
Ripened and hard cheeses that are allowed to "age" usually contain a lactose level of only around 5%. Because of the minimal amount of lactose in these products, they are often recommended for lactose intolerant individuals as dairy alternatives.
In the second method, an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, is used to create the separation. When enough acid is introduced into the milk, curds begin to form. Draining the whey results in a soft, mild cheese that can be eaten immediately.
Soft cheeses are made without rennet or other additives, using ingredients easily obtained from a local grocery. Below are two simple soft goat cheese recipes, one of which uses the bacterial method, and one that uses an acid to precipitate the curd.
Recipe 1. Goat Milk Ricotta Cheese. Heat 2 quarts of goat milk to 185° F. Remove from heat, and stir in 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. The milk should begin to immediately form small curds that stick to the whisk or spoon as you continue stirring. If not, add a few more drops of the vinegar or lemon juice until curds form.
Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth-lined colander placed over a bowl, or in the sink, to drain. Let drain at room temperature for several hours until the desired consistency is reached. Remove the curds from the cheesecloth, and store in a closed container in the refrigerator. Use as a spread, or in recipes that call for ricotta cheese.
Recipe 2. Goat Milk Quark Cheese. Heat 2 quarts of goat milk to 88° F, and stir in 2 tablespoons buttermilk with active cultures. The buttermilk will work better if it is fresh. If the buttermilk is nearing its expiration date, add an extra tablespoon or two. Cover the pot, and let set at room temperature for 24 hours.
Pour the thickened mixture, which should look similar to yogurt, into a cheesecloth-lined colander placed over a bowl. Cover, and refrigerate for 12-24 hours until drained. Remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Quark cheese is similar to a thick sour cream, and is excellent in baked goods, including cheesecake. It can also be used for dips, or as a substitute for ricotta.
Add a little non-iodized salt to either cheese, if you wish.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maria Garza publishes her knowledge about goat milk and goat milk products on the informational website http://www.everything-goat-milk.com a broad spectrum resource for Everything Goat Milk, from recipes and cheesemaking instructions, to skin care and health benefits.