About Me

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I am a wife, mother, teacher, runner, baker, fund-raiser, reader, watcher of movies, dog-lover, writer, music-lover and foodie. So - I'm a woman of many moods! I write and share in order to teach and enrich. I currently have two blogs going: The Kitchen Refugee, and A Mile At A Time. The first is about time spent in the kitchen and the second about time spent on the road. Frequently the two roads intersect!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Curious Curds

I know I started my last post this way, but...

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, (www.animalvegetablemiracle.com) I was captivated by the idea of home-made cheese.  It had never occurred to me that the average Joe/Josephine could make cheese in their own kitchen with no experience necessary.

Kingsolver uses a recipe for 30-Minute Mozzarella from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company,  (www.cheesemaking.com).  I ordered my Mozzarella & Ricotta kit from the company, and eagerly entered the world of cheese making.  (You can find this recipe at either site.)

I first began by running an add in the local Nickel asking for raw goat milk for human consumption.  I had several calls from around the area and was able to price shop a bit.  I went for the caller offering $5/gallon. I have tried the mozzarella with whole goat milk, and with plain old 2% milk from the store.  Here's the key - the milk you buy must NOT be Ultra Pasteurized.  If I understand correctly, this means the milk has already been heated at too high a temperature to separate into curds and whey.  I found it interesting that all of the organic milks I found at the store had been ultra pasteurized, so I just bought the cheapest milk I could find @$1.99/gallon.  I prefer mozzarella & ricotta made from cow's milk, so I save the goat milk for other goat cheeses.  Some people don't like goat cheese - one of my friends swears she can taste "too much barnyard!"  I like it and still marvel that I can make such a delicacy in my own kitchen.

I'll leave you to your own devices for the mozzarella and move on to my favorite goat cheese: Chevre.  I ordered the Fresh French Goat Cheese Kit from (www.cheesemaking.com).  This site has many recipes so if you choose to order supplies but not kits you'll still be able to find what you need.  I figured since I was a cheese novice, I would order a couple kits.  They run between $15 - $25 and come with enough supplies for up to 30 batches.

Making Chevre is one of those things that is counter-intuitive; it seems so wrong to leave milk out overnight!  I realize that cheese is an aged product and one that actually does need to sour, but I have to admit it gave me the creeps the first time I did it.  Warning: I have noticed that the directions on the Chevre Direct-Set product do not exactly match the recipe in the book.  I had one batch that never formed a curd and I had to throw it out.  I have had the most success following the directions on the Direct Set, and then adding the seasonings as directed by the recipe in the booklet/website.

Heat milk to temperature as per directions.  Add the Direct-Set.
Cover with lid.

I put my pot of milk in the oven over night - it's airtight and
temperature-controlled.  Threaten 'mayhem' on anyone who dares to disturb the curds!
This process can take anywhere from 12-20 hours.  I generally start this cheese at night.
Now, go to sleep and try not to think about bacteria.  :-)

When you wake up in the morning, you will find a pot filled with curds and whey!
It really is about the coolest science experiment ever!!

Using a long knife, CUT THE CHEESE!  Ha ha - I had to say it!
This particular batch got a pretty firm set.  The next batch I made looked more like
Ricotta, but I was able to drain enough liquid to make it useable.

Butter muslin comes with the Goat Cheese Kit - it's finer than cheese cloth
and for good reason!  Drain as much whey as you can from the curds.

I believe I ordered these spiffy little cups separately.  I gently pressed the curds
into the cups, set them on an oven rack inside a baking dish, and let them drain for up to 6 hours.
I know - bacteria...it's all I can think of!
Funny how it never crosses my mind when I'm eating Blue Cheese.

Once the cheese has drained to your satisfaction, add the spices.
I add 2 tsps. of sea salt, 1 tsp. tarragon, and 3 tsps. Herbs de Provence.
I really love the hint of lavender in this mix - totally worth it!
At this point, your curds are about the consistency of cream cheese.  I stir in the spices with a fork.
Spoon your curds into whatever little shaping devices you have.
I line a ramekin with plastic wrap, spoon in the cheese, wrap and pop it out.
The size of cheeses you make is up to you.  Since there are only two of us in the house now
it makes sense to make small ones.

This is the yield from one gallon of raw goat's milk.  Once I have shaped
and wrapped my cheeses, I freeze them individually like this until they are set.
Then I transfer them into a big zip lock and thaw them as needed.

Now, I admit I am a total novice at this and there are far more experienced cheese makers out there to help us all.  I'm still learning from these kits and using the cheesemaking.com website a lot.

Another blogger at http://homesteadwannabes.blogspot.com/ clearly has way more experience than I.  Follow her lead to Raw Dairy Recipes, and you'll be in hog heaven (or goat heaven!)

:-)  Cheesy Grin!


  1. Karen: It sounds great, looks delicious, and I love goat cheese. I am interested in the concept of Ultra Pasteurization, however. Do you know if it means safer? Is there less bacteria? I have friends that drink milk straight from the cow and have never gotten ill. Any ideas?

  2. People have been drinking straight from the cow since the dawn of...well...cows! :-)

    I did a quick search and found:


    where it states:

    "Ultra-pasteurization will keep milk from going bad for four weeks, sometimes more. This milk can actually be kept on the shelf because it really won't go bad. The grocers love it. It is great for their profits. The big dairies love it, they worry even less about food borne illness as a result of their poor sanitary practices and the poor health of their animals."

    And..."Ultra-pasteurized milk cannot be turned into cheese. Whipping cream that is ultra-pasteurized does not whip as well, so sometimes they add stabilizers to it. Even the organic dairies, like Horizon, are ultra-pasteurizing their milk. It does have to be marked according to the FDA, and it is getting harder and harder to find milk and dairy products that are not ultrapasteurized." (This is true - I stood in the milk isle forever reading labels until I found 'pasteurized' not ultra.

    I know some folks are reluctant to sell fresh/raw milk because of FDA laws. I live in a rural enough area that it hasn't caught up to us yet. I trust that people are cleaning the udders properly, and sterilizing the containers the milk goes in, and I know I'm going to cook it - so no worries. May not be that easy everywhere. In a perfect world, I'd have space for a couple nannies and few chickens!

  3. Karen: Great info. I originally came from rural New Hampshire, so I understand and agree with your comments. I am also a vegetarian. I eat fish and dairy, but not poultry. I absolutely agree the big boys don't worry about the sanitary conditions or the mistreatment of the animals. I used to drink milk straight from the source all the time. Thanks.

  4. My only real concerns about bacteria are just connected to the idea of leaving the milk out unrefrigerated for hours to create curds. I know that's how it's done - it just seems really weird!

  5. We drank fresh milk forever in our house! I remember Mom putting the gallon jar in the fridge and then skimming the 4" thick layer of cream off the top before we drank! It was the BEST! I also think that most people who actually sell their milk are pretty careful about sanitizing the udders and teats. I wish there were places to purchase whole, raw milk in my area.

    I am intrigued with making cheese now. I am going to have to do some research!

    Thanks, Karen for sharing!