Skills Learned Through WWOOFing: Making Cheese

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Fresh milk in my coffee on a cold morning. A chilled glass of milk along with dinner. A bowl of yogurt and oats for breakfast.

All good things coming from goat milk.

But my favorite goat milk food: Cheese

Types of Cheese

I mentioned in an earlier post that yogurt is made from filtered, still warm, goat milk. Cheese is as well.

We make three main types of fresh cheese at the farm:

  • Chevre - defined as cheese made from goat’s milk
  • Fromage - soft, spreadable cheese made from goat’s milk
  • Feta - a white, salty cheese made from goat’s milk

Chevre

During my time in the dairy kitchen I made chevre.

A batch of chevre starts with filtered goat milk poured into a stainless steel pot.

I add culture to the milk. After a few minutes I stir the milk with a stainless steel spoon to help disperse the culture.

Next, I add rennet - the enzyme used to coagulate cheese. We have a special stirring pattern to mix in the rennet. If we stir too long, a fuzz appears on the spoon. The fuzz indicates a ruined batch. Thankfully, I didn’t see any fuzz.

I label the lid and set the covered pot on the counter.

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Twenty-four hours later I remove the lid. Looking inside the pot I see a white circle (the curd) and a yellow liquid (the whey). It is time to separate the curd and whey. After lining a strainer with cheese cloth, I pour off the whey before letting the curd slide into the cheese cloth. I rock the cheese cloth to remove more of the whey.

No Waste

The drained whey is not wasted. We feed it to the chickens or dogs.

After removing as much whey as possible, I tie the cheese cloth and hang it over a tray. More whey drains during this time. We want the cheese to be as dry as possible.

After 24 hours I put the cheese into a labeled gallon Ziplock bag.  The cheese is chilled - in either refrigerator or freezer - until needed.

When Soell, our cheese-maker, receives an order, he will add seasoning to the cheese. He also keeps the wwoofers’ fridge stocked with flavored cheeses.

Labeled pot of chèvre cheese

Labeled pot of chèvre cheese

See the white curd and yellow whey?

See the white curd and yellow whey?

Pouring off the whey

Pouring off the whey

Draining the curd

Draining the curd

Hanging the cheese to remove more whey

Hanging the cheese to remove more whey

Legal label

Legal label

Garlic and chive chèvre

Garlic and chive chèvre

Cheese tastes great on a cracker!

Cheese tastes great on a cracker!

Little Miss Muffet

Do you remember that children’s poem about Miss Muffet “eating her curds and whey”?

Yea, I tasted the whey.

No ‘whey’ did Miss Muffet enjoy that part of her meal. And the spider? Probably bummed he wasted all that effort scaring her off.

The curd, though, that’s the good stuff.

Fromage

The recipe for fromage is the same as chevre. The difference between the two is the hanging time. Fromage only hangs for 12 hours. This results in a softer, spreadable cheese.

Feta

I wasn’t in the kitchen the day the Soell started the feta. But I did help with slicing the drained cheese and then salting it. As the cheese dries, Soell cuts a small sample to test dryness and salt level. He applies salt two more times or as needed.

Legal Jargon

All goat milk and products are labeled and sold as pet food ingredients only, per Florida state law. We wwoofers on the farm do eat the goat milk products without issue.

Just that odd urge to chase a frisbee now and then.

Start to Finish

At the end of my week in the dairy kitchen I prepared dinner for all the wwoofers. I made a meal that used a batch of chevre cheese I made during the week.

It was fun to be part of the whole process from milking the goats, to using the milk to make cheese, to cooking with the cheese.





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