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Posts Tagged ‘cheesemaking’

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.

Cheesemaking Rosemary infused fresh goat’s cheese

After my first successful, and very tasty, attempt at cheesemaking I was keen to try more techniques for incorporating the herbs that I grow into my cheeses. I love Rosemary and fortunately Rosemary grows very well in my herb garden so I always have a plentiful supply. The only problem with Rosemary is that, even chopped up, it can be a bit woody when used in dishes. To avoid this I decided to try infusing my cheese with fresh Rosemary.

I used the same technique as I did to make my first batch of fresh goat cheese.

  1. Dissolve 1 and1/2 teaspoon citric acid in 125ml warm water and add to 2 litres goat milk
  2. Heat goat milk to 85C then leave to cool for 15 minutes
  3. Strain through cheesecloth
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon cheese salt and roll into shape

Instead of adding chopped herbs like I did with the Basil and Garlic cheese I put a bunch of fresh Rosemary in with the milk while I was heating it and while it cooled.

I decided to split the Rosemary infused curd into two and add some homegrown Elephant Garlic into one half. I used the same technique as in my first batch of cheese. I crushed two cloves of Elephant Garlic and folded the garlic into the curd making sure it was evenly distributed.

I did add a sprinkle of Rosemary on top of the Rosemary infused cheese to distinguish it from the Rosemary infused and Elephant Garlic cheese. Here’s a picture of the finished cheeses.

While I was making the cheese I wasn’t sure whether curds would have enough Rosemary flavour just from the infusion but fortunately there was nothing to worry about. The cheese texture was the same as my first attempt a bit Feta like but it had a delicious Rosemary flavour. The Elephant Garlic worked well too it complemented the Rosemary and didn’t overpower it.

I’m definitely going to try more herb infused fresh goat cheese. With a large bunch of fresh Rosemary it was quite easy to remove it from the milk. I might also experiment with using a small muslin bag with herbs in or use some make your own herb teabags. I have some large tea bags from making herbal bath teas that might do the job. These herb teabags could be added directly to the milk or, as the book Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking suggests, I could make a herb tea and then add the tea to the goat milk. It might be interesting to try combinations of herbs.

As well as a world of herb infused fresh goat cheese to explore I have just ordered some Chevre starter culture so I can try making Chevre cheese. I’ve been reading the book The Art of Natural Cheesemaking by David Asher which has a whole chapter on Chevre. I particularly like the description of Chevre as “It is a cheese that is very economical, in both time and ingredients; made on the family farm, where there are many chores to take care of and livestock to feed, a cheese that didn’t need much attention or many costly ingredients fits right in”