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Raw milk Chèvre and Paneer Cheesemanking

A double cheese update this week. Now I’ve perfected my Chèvre recipe I decided to buy some raw goat’s milk and see how different it was compared to shop bought pasteurised milk. Hopefully in the future we’ll be getting milk from Diaz and Santiago our golden guernseys so I’ll be using raw milk in all my cheesemaking.

Well there was definitely a difference. My yield was significantly increased when using the raw milk and because the curd formation was better the whey drained quicker which meant the end result wasn’t as wet. I had enough cheese to make a plain Chèvre as well as a basil flavoured one, using homegrown fresh basil and a chilli flavoured on using a homegrown dried basket of fire chilli.

Here’s a picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favourite is the chilli flavour. I like the way the smooth creaminess of the Chèvre is followed by the heat of chilli, it’s a very moreish cheese. Not that the Basil and plain aren’t also delicious. I read an article this week that described Basil as catnip for humans so I’m going to be taking the Basil flavoured Chèvre to a bring and share lunch at my workplace.

Raw milk is expensive compared to shop bought but until we have our own milk I will treat myself whenever I’ve perfected a recipe. I bought my raw milk from Red 23

The second cheese I made this week was Paneer. It’s a vegetarian cheese that does not require rennet. Instead the cheese is formed using a combination of acid and heat. This method of cheesemaking relies on the nature of milk proteins. Casein, the most abundant of milk proteins coagulates with the aid of rennet and is what most other cheeses are made from. The second most common protein in milk is albumin which is what makes paneer. Albumin is also found in egg whites. A liquid at room temperature, albumin becmes solid when heated and will not return to a liquid state.

When cheeses are made at a lower temperature the casein coagulates into cheese but the albumin remains in its liquid form in the whey. This is hwy you can make ricotta from whey. When making paneer the milk is heated to a higher temperature so both the casein and albumin form curds. This means that you have a slightly higher yield.

Because of the nature of paneer you can use it in ways that you can’t use other cheeses. Paneer can be cooked ina  sauce and will hold its shape, absorbing the sauce’s flavour. Paneer can also be cut into cubes and, stuck on a skewer and barbecued. One of my books even suggests making a cheese sandwich using paneer as the “bread” and a rich meltable cheese as the filling then fry the whole sandwich in butter.

Any milk will make Paneer even skimmed. The only milk that won’t is UHT. The other benefit of paneer is that it freezes well. We ate some fresh in a curry and froze a couple of portions.

Heat, acid made cheeses are common around the world not just in India where paneer originates from. In Mexico Queso fresco is essentially the same cheese but with spices such as garlic, chipotle pepper and coriander added.

I’ll be writing up some recipe notes when I get time but here’s the recipe for Paneer. There are variations on this recipe mainly focused on different acids. Traditionally yoghurt is used, much larger quantities are required because yoghurt is only mildly acidic. Lemon juice makes a paneer suited to dessert.

Panner Recipe

Ingredients

4 litres milk

1/2 cup 120ml Apple cider vinegar

1 tabespoon of salt (optional)

 

Method

Bring milk to the boil stirring continuously

cool for 1-2 minutes

pour in vinegar and stir gently

leave curds to settle for 5 minutes

Strain curds in colander

Add spices ans / or salt

Press curds

The paneer is ready when cooled and can be refrigerated for a week or frozen.

You will see in the recipe method that you need to press the curds. You don’t need any expensive kit to do this. Here’s my improvised cheese press using some heavy le creuset ramekins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see I have some cheese forms. You could use a cut off plastic milk container or plastic bottle with holes punched in it for a diy version.

Here’s a picture of the finished paneer.

Chèvre with homemade Kefir

I’ve been continuing my experiments with making Chèvre. I haven’t had much luck with the freeze dried culture, it’s been giving me inconsistent results but that’s not a problem because using homemade Kefir is working really well.

I bought my Kefir grains on Ebay and I’ve been feeding them organic, full fat cows milk . I have a glass of Kefir everyday which if I’m not using it for cheesemaking I just enjoy by itself. I hadn’t tried Kefir before but I do quite like it. Thicker than milk it has a slightly sour taste with a sight fizziness which I find very thirst quenching. I usually have a glass before I go on my evening run, it boosts my energy levels a bit without filling me up too much.

Using Kefir instead of freeze dried culture is the method that David Asher uses in the book The Art of Natural Cheesemaking. I’ve made some slight adaptions to suit me and because I’m using store bought pasteurised milk. Having done some research I’ve discovered that using Calcium Chloride helps increase yield from pasteurised milk. There’s some very helpful information and explanation about the use of Calcium Chloride on the website Curd Nerd Calcium Chloride what is it and when should you use it . For now I think I’ll always use Calcium Chloride when using store bought milk but hopefully next year I’ll have raw milk from our Golden Guernsey goats.

I’ve been using a half measure of rennet 2 drops instead of 4 drops/litre which has given me a nice soft Chèvre texture in my cheese but I might experiment with using 4 drops to see if I get a better yield. Based on the theory I think I might increase my yield but at the expense of the soft texture and possibly taste. Too much rennet leads to a bitter tasting cheese according to the research I’ve done. I suspect the best way to increase yield will be to use raw milk.

Here are my recipe notes and a picture of the final result. It’s a very smooth, soft cheese with a tangy flavour and moreishness about it. I particulalry like it spread on a digestive biscuit.

Ingredients for making Chevre with homemade Kefir

Method for making Chevre with Kefir part 1

Method for making Chevre with homemade Kefir part 2

 

 

Homemade Chevre cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheesemaking first attempt at Chèvre

The next step in my cheesemaking journey is to start learning about rennet cheeses by making Chèvre.

Chèvre is known as a lactic acid set cheese fitting between simple lactic acid set yogurt cheeses and more complex rennet set cheeses with elements of both styles of cheesemaking. The process of Chèvre making involves a long, slow fermentation that brings out the best flavours of goat’s milk.

Chèvre is a common cheese in central France made by many small dairies using milk from small goat herds each bringing an individuality to their cheese. Chèvre making seems perfectly suited to life on a small farm or smallholding. It doesn’t need much attention or too many costly ingredients

To make Chèvre you first need to warm goat’s milk to approximately 30ºC. Then add starter culture and a small dose of rennet to the milk. The milk is then left to ferment for around 24 hours (some recipes suggest 12 hours some up to 2 days). The curd is then left to drain for 6 hours – overnight

Traditionally backslopped whey was used to culture goat’s milk when making Chèvre. If you don’t have access to raw milk you won’t be able to do this so there are two other options. Firstly you can buy commercial mesophillic freeze-dried starters containing laboratory raised bacteria. The second option is to use Kefir to restore microbiological diversity to pasteurised goat’s milk. This technique apparently leads to a more flavourful raw milk like Chèvre.

I’ve just ordered a milk Kefir starter kit and I’ll write a bit more about this technique when I’ve had a chance to try it out. For my first attempt at Chèvre I used a commercial freeze dried Chèvre culture with rennet included.

Although all my research described Chèvre as an easy, forgiving method of cheesemaking it didn’t quite go to plan for me. I heated my 4 litres of milk to 30ºC, added my culture, waited for 2 minutes, stirred and then left to ferment for 12 hours at room temperature.

I did have some curd, with a yogurt like consistency as the recipes I have read described. There wasn’t as much curd as I was expecting and I think that might have been because the room temperature was a little cool. Having done some research since the advice I found was to add a little heat if there seems to be a lack of curd.

I did leave my curd to drain overnight and then added some salt. This is where I made a bit of a schoolboy error. I didn’t take into account the reduced amount of curd I had and didn’t reduce my amount of salt accordingly.

The Chèvre was still quite sloppy so I put it in a cheese form and left it in a bowl in the fridge to drain a bit more liquid.

This was the result

I was pleased with the consistency. It smelt like a creamy goat cheese the problem was the amount of salt I had added, it was horribly over salted. I did eat some and there was a hint of delicious, creamy goat cheese in there but it was just ridiculously salty.

The following day I decided to try again. I decided to try heating my milk on our cooking range, rather than the induction hob, and then moved it to the warming plate on the range. Unfortunately I underestimated how warm the range would get and basically ended up pasteurising the milk, therefore killing off the culture.

I’m hoping it will be third time lucky this week. I’m going to warm the milk on the induction hob and then keep an eye on the curd development applying a gentle heat if necessary which I hope will lead to more curd development. Of course I’ll also be more careful with the amount of salt I add.

When I was trying to figure out where I had gone wrong I found this Trouble shooting guide for homemade cheese helpful.