by The Beverage People with commentary by Kathy Laurie
Creamy, mild, slightly dry if well drained, Chèvre is a fermented cheese that can be used plain or coated with herbs such as chives, or peppercorns. It makes small appetizer-size cheeses much like the French Fromage Blanc (the recipe follows) but with a tangier, lightly acidic finish. Keeps several weeks.
I enjoy making many different cheeses but Chevre is the one I make most often. It is incredibly simple to make, very popular and it can be served many different ways. If you have never made cheese before, this is a wonderful way to begin for there is no special equipment needed. If you buy the Quick Start Chevre and Fromage Blanc Kit, you will have everything you need except a saucepan and a quart of goat milk. The kit comes with instructions or you can see the recipe here.
Here is how easy it is:
Day 1 – early evening
Sanitize all the equipment you will need for the next couple of days.
In a small saucepan, heat a quart of goat milk slowly to 86°. Sprinkle on the culture, wait 3 minutes, then stir it in. Add the calcium chloride diluted in a little water. Stir with 20 up and down strokes. Add the rennet the same way.
Cover the pan and let sit in an undisturbed place overnight. It must stay over 72° so find a warm spot for it. I put it in the oven with the door cracked open so the light stays on. That keeps it plenty warm. Others use a small closet with a light on.
Day 2 – early morning
You have curds and whey!
Ladle off as much whey as you can without disturbing curds and then gently ladle the curds into your 2 molds.
That’s all for today! Put them aside to drain overnight.
Day 3 – morning
Sprinkle a little Kosher salt on top of each cheese and let it sit for a couple of minutes to be absorbed. With very clean hands, tip the mold over to drop a cheese into your hand. Sprinkle cheese on the sides and top with salt and place on a draining mat. That’s it for today! Put aside to finish ripening overnight.
Day 4 – IT’S DONE!
Really! You have spent very little time each day and you have delicious cheese. Now you just experiment with what flavors you want to add. It’s wonderful plain, but adding the onion mix that comes in the kit is one of our favorites. Also you can use peppercorns, Italian Seasoning, Herbs de Provence, chopped pecans and honey – be creative. If you have access to grape or citrus leaves, try your hand at Leaf Wrapped Chevre. Spring is the perfect time to experiment with leaf wrapped cheese. The leaves are soft and flexible for easy wrapping. See the article about it here.
The kit comes with plenty of ingredients for multiple batches. If you like this cheese as much as I do, you will want to add 2 more molds so you can make 4 at a time using 2 quarts of milk or add a couple of the aperitif size molds to make small cheeses to add to salads or cheese boards.
Another idea is to put either pieces or a whole cheese in a small canning jar.
Cover with good quality olive oil. You can add dry herbs and spices if you like. We have particularly enjoyed them flavored with garlic powder, Italian Seasoning and Mexican seasoning. Cover tightly and just put in the back of the refrigerator. They will keep for a long time. The longer they marinate, the more intense the flavor. I love making a bunch of these in the fall and have them available for hostess gifts during the holidays.
However you choose to serve Chevre, it will be delicious and easy!
Yields 4, 4 oz. cakes.
2 qts of Trader Joe’s Summerhill Goat Milk or Fresh Goat Milk
1/8 tsp. M4001 culture
1/8 tsp. liquid Calcium Chloride in 1 Tablespoon water
1/8 tsp. liquid Rennet, in 1 Tablespoon water
Flaked or Kosher Salt
Stainless Steel Pot, 3 qts.
Dial Top Thermometer
Perforated ladle or slotted spoon
4 Chevre plastic perforated molds
Wire rack/ sheet pan or ripening box with draining mat
Optional but recommended: Sous Vide Immersion Heater/Circulator provides an ideal heat source. Click for discussion.
French for “white cheese,” Fromage Blanc is creamy and mild, growing a bit more tangy with age, but without any of the “goaty” character some people don’t like in Chèvre. This is a spreadable cheese that is great served plain, mixed in or coated with herbs, chives, dried onions or other flavorful enhancements. It is also a true fermented cheese, delicious when first made and improves in character for several weeks.
Yields about 1 1/2 pounds.
1 gallon Whole Cow Milk
1/4 tsp. M4001 culture
1/2 tsp. Calcium Chloride, diluted in 1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp. liquid Rennet, also in 1/4 cup water
Flaked or Kosher Salt
Same as Fresh Chèvre, except the milk goes into a pot that fits into a larger pot, like a double boiler to gently warm the milk.
Note: to make a warm space for the ripening stage, put a lamp with a 25 watt bulb in a closet, and place the pan on the shelf above the lamp. You could also do this with a box, but be careful, the bulb still gets quite warm.