Bluma Bier of Springfield, MA is a registered nurse at an outpatient clinic by day, and a homesteader in her dreams. Someday she may raise goats, but until then, she makes chevre with pasteurized goat’s milk she buys at a farmer’s market and with raw goat’s milk she gets from a friend who has goats. She and her husband raised 5 grown children. Now, they have a dog named Dana who loves to drink some of the whey from Bluma’s chevre.
It all began about 6 years ago when Bluma went to an Open Farm Day in Frederick County, Maryland with a friend. She met a young goat named Petunia and it was love at first sight. Bluma knew then that she was destined to have goats someday. Until then, she loves the way she feels when she makes her own goat cheese. (She says the whole house feels happier when there’s goat cheese forming in the kitchen.)
Everyone knows that chevre is yummy when combined with herbs and spices. The question is – how much? Fortunately, Bluma was kind enough to send us her recipes for 2 different variations she makes with her chevre- sweet and savory. I was able to sample both of them when I visited her kitchen, and I can attest to their perfection. You really need to try these recipes!
1 1/2 gallons fresh goat milk
1/2 vegetable rennet tablet (you will need 1/4 cup of non-chlorinated water to dissolve it), and
1 packet mesophilic (C101) culture
1 packet chevre culture (rennet not needed with this option)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely snipped parsley
3 cloves garlic – crushed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 heaping tbsp light brown sugar
1 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
To pasteurize – Heat the milk to 145F in a stainless steel pot. Keep at that temperature for 30 minutes, then cool by placing the pot in cold water until milk temperature drops to 86F. (You can skip this step and make chevre with raw milk if you choose to eat raw milk cheese.)
If using mesophilic culture, while milk is cooling, dissolve rennet tablet in water and set aside. (If using chevre culture, go right to the next step and then set the pot aside.)
When milk is at 86F, sprinkle culture on top until re-hydrated. With gentle and thorough up and down motion, mix culture into milk. Assure you are mixing the culture into all of the milk.
After cultures are mixed into the milk, slowly pour dissolved rennet into milk. Stir immediately using gentle up and down strokes, getting to the bottom of the pot and mixing thoroughly.
Set aside for a curd to form. After about half an hour you will have what looks like soft gel with some whey floating on top. Cut the curd using a knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot. Cut rows that are about an inch wide all across horizontally and then repeat vertically (forming what looks like squares). Cutting the curd allows whey to be expelled more evenly. It is not absolutely necessary to do this for chevre but I have found the consistency of the chevre to be smoother when I do cut the curd.
Allow the curd to form for about 8 hours (can be a little more – “overnight” works well).
After about 8 hours pour off some of the whey. Chickens love it. Whey may also be used in cooking or baking.
Place muslin cloth over a colander in the sink or a large bowl. More whey will drain through the cloth as you gently scoop the curd into the cloth with a perforated ladle.
Once all the curd is in the cheesecloth, gather the edges, tie them up and hang to allow more whey to drip out of the forming cheese for 6-8 hours. While the cheese is hanging, the cultures are still active and “making your cheese.” The longer you leave the cheese hanging, the dryer it will be.
After 6-8 hours, place your cheese in a mixing bowl. With a fork, gently “mash” the cheese and add salt, and either the sweet or savory variations. Mix thoroughly. Add more or less seasoning to your taste.
Cut 12″ piece of Saran Wrap and place chevre in the center. Roll into a “log.” If you choose, you can unwrap the log and roll in more herbs. Then re-roll in a new piece of plastic wrap.
Chevre lasts in the refrigerator for about a week and freezes very well.
Bluma says she hopes you enjoy making chevre as much as she does.