Chevre Saved!

I’m back at it with the cheese making! It was *almost* a disaster and I had to take a risk to save the chevre, but it actually turned out!

Here’s the story…

I am sure you are NOT shocked that I did NOT read the recipe before buying the goat milk for the cheese. If I had read the recipe before going to Whole Foods, I would have learned that the recipe explicitly says “DO NOT USE ULTRA-PASTEURIZED GOAT MILK”. Guess what I did? I bought ultra-pasteurized goat milk. Apparently I was supposed to obtain a lightly or non-pasteurized goat milk. All the goat milk selling stores around me only sell ultra-pasteurized milk and I’m not sure where I’d find the correct milk unless I ventured to some goat dairy. I do live in the “Dairy State” but getting your hands on milk straight from the teat around here isn’t as easy as you’d think.

So, when I arrived home with my ultra-pasteurized milk (a QUART was $6!!) and realized my mistake, I googled like crazy to see if there was anything I could do. Every cheese making site I found said crystal clear “DO NOT USE ULTRA-PASTEURIZED GOAT MILK” and “YOUR CHEESE WILL NOT TURN OUT”. At this point, any sane person would have tried to secretly mix the goat milk with cow’s milk in her kid’s sippy cups until it was gone (or until they noticed). But never being one to back down from a challenge, I decided to proceed with making the cheese and hoping for the best.

The recipe that came with my cheesemaking kit said to pour the milk into a sanitized pot and submerge it in hot water until the milk reaches 80 degrees.

In the process of preparing the necessary items for the cheese making, I completely destroyed my instant read thermometer *face palm*.

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I submerged the pot of milk in the sink as directed and shockingly the milk came to 80 degrees very quickly.

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I took the pot out of the sink, added the rennet, the calcium chloride and set the pot on my seedling mat to sit on my counter for 12-18 hours. That’s right – 12-18 HOURS. Milk. On a Counter. Room temperature. 12-18 HOURS. I was skeptical and a little freaked out.

After about 4 hours, I didn’t notice any change in the milk. There were no visible curds and I panicked. I decided to scrap the on-the-counter slow method. During my panicked googling earlier in the day, I remembered seeing this recipe that involved heating the goat milk to 180 degrees. At this point, I figured I had nothing to lose by scrapping my original slow plan, except for the almost certain chance I’d get gastrointestinal distress if the slow curdling milk actually made cheese after 18 hours.

I took the pot to the stove and began heating the milk slowly. I was using my milk frothing thermometer to monitor the temperature (because I no longer owned a functioning instant read thermometer, if you recall..) and when I looked at it, I realized I had completely read the thermometer wrong earlier in the day. It turns out the milk did NOT miraculously warm in the sink to 80 degrees in less than a minute. It had only actually heated to 60 degrees and so my slow counter method would have likely not worked anyway. *another face palm* Temperatures are super important in cheese making.

I heated the milk to 180 degrees and….

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Actual cheese bits! (also called curds)

I want to really emphasize that they were *bits*. The curds were a fraction of the size of my mozzarella curds and I really could not appreciate a noticeable separation of curds and whey. The milk looked exactly as pictured. Continuing to throw caution to the wind, I dumped the milk on a cheese cloth and started the straining process.

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See those cheese bits on the side of the cloth? It wasn’t looking so promising at this point. I was praying there was a billion of those cheese bits hiding in the milk that I couldn’t see.

And there was!!

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I hung the cheese cloth from my cabinet handle to continue draining for a few hours. I had to eventually go to bed so I ended up just wringing out the cheese with my hands. I was SHOCKED to find that I actually had solid cheese!!

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I packed the cheese solids into a 1 cup measuring spoon and put it in the fridge overnight. The next afternoon I made an AMAZING cheese plate (if I do say so myself..) and my husband and I tried the cheese!

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I had it straight up, on a cracker, on a cracker with jam, with a fig, with a dried blueberry and with some cured meats and it was ACTUALLY GOOD.

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The best way I can describe it is: it tasted like a goat cheese ricotta. It was not creamy like a normal chevre. It was pretty grainy, but it tasted great. It had a very light goat cheese flavor, which I liked. Sometimes goat cheese can taste like the barnyard the goat was living in and I don’t always love that. I was pleased the goat flavor was mild. I definitely wish I could have made it the appropriate way, but I am very happy my last-minute change of plans SAVED THE CHEVRE!

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I will definitely read the directions before I undertake another cheese adventure. Pretty classic me though, right?

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