On Sunday, I took a French Goat Cheesemaking Basics class at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge. If you’ve known me for a while, you know that I have a thing for goats, and that extends to goat cheese. The idea of learning how to make my own was really exciting to me.
The class started out with a tasting of a variety of goat cheeses accompanied by some sparkling wine. Then, Jessica, the cheese cave manager at Formaggio’s explained the basics of cheesemaking in general and goat cheesemaking in particular. After that, we got try it for ourselves!
We worked through the process backwards. First, we ladled cheese curds into molds for what would become a mini cheese to age for a couple weeks into a soft-rind cheese. We also ladled curds into cheesecloth for fresh chevre. Then, Jessica showed us how to prepare the goat milk to set the curds. You heat the milk, then add cultures, with the requisite molds, and rennet to help set the curds.
The chevre looked great after draining overnight over the sink. It tastes great on toast for breakfast too.
I had a little trouble with the molded cheese. It wasn’t draining so I couldn’t unmold it. I realize that home cheesemakers make this at room temperature in Europe, but, being American, I started to panic when the cheese was just out in the kitchen for over 24 hours. I ended up transferring the draining curds to the cheesecloth and just draining it for more chevre. I’m not going to try the aging thing this time around.
However, home cheesemaking, for fresh cheese, anyway, seems extremely doable. I’d love to be able to make my own goat cheese. The hardest thing will be finding some goat milk. We used a pasteurized kind from Oak Knoll Dairy in Vermont. I’m hoping I can find it for sale somewhere locally, maybe at Whole Foods.
It was so much fun to try out a new culinary skill. I can’t wait to try it on my own!