Blessed are the Cheesemakers!
Well according to the wonderful Monty Python and The Life of Bryan they are! Now I am one of them too. Whether or not I am blessed is another matter but the cheese tasted really nice.
I have been milking Arna, one of our two female goats, every day for a month now and its going well, finally. She and I were both new to the milking game and she did not like it one little bit, kicking, stepping in the milk pail, jumping about and generally making it as difficult as possible for me to milk her. So.... I made a hobble.
A hobble is a gentle way of holding the back legs above her knees to stop her from jumping and kicking and it works. She now stands patiently waiting for me to finish and I am getting around half a litre of lovely, creamy milk every day. What to do with all the milk? Obviously I am freezing quite a lot and using it to make goats milk soap which is fabulous stuff but even that does not use up the excess. Rik loves the milk (having said he would never, ever drink goats milk) so it goes into our porridge, cereal, scrambled eggs, tea and coffee as well as lots of other recipes but there is still a lot more so I decided to try to make cheese. Chèvre cheese to be correct.
I found a very simple recipe that only uses milk and lemon juice and got going.
Firstly you have to put the strained, cold goats milk into a pan and bring it up to 180 degrees. Meanwhile, using boiling water, I scalded a clean piece of fine cloth mesh that I had folded over to double it, this makes sure the cloth was properly sterilised.
I then turned off the heat and added the juice of one fresh lemon. Immediately the mixture curdled and, to be honest, did not look very nice. I left it for 10 minutes until the curds had fully separated from the whey.
Place the sieve with the sterilised cloth over a large pan and pour the curdled mess into it, it looks a bit like scrambled egg at this point. I then picked up the fabric and squeezed as much of the liquid out as possible. Remove the sieve and tie the cloth around a wooden spoon so that the whole bundle hangs above the bottom of the pan and let it drip for about an hour or so.
The resulting mixture was a little crumbly but smelt lovely. Now is the time to add the seasonings. For this cheese I added salt and freshly ground black pepper along with some finely shredded lemon thyme. Then I shaped it into a mini log and put it in the fridge to set a little more. The resulting cheese was soft, creamy and very tasty, we had friends over for lunch and the whole lot went in one sitting! DELICIOUS..................
So, I definitely would not say I am blessed but I do love finding things to make from the produce on our farm and cheese is now set to be a regular feature. Next trial will be making a hard cheese and some mozzarella which can also be made from goats milk.
Apologies for the quality of the images by the way, my camera has broken and I am waiting for my super-duper new one to arrive. These were taken on my phone and are not up to the normal standard!