Saturday, May 1, 2010

Training Wheel Cheese: Homemade Chèvre

Wow! I never even turned on my oven last weekend - both of my chosen projects were cooked on the stove top. Aside from making caramels, I took my first stab at making homemade cheese last weekend.

Specifically, I made Chez Loulou’s homemade chèvre. As usual, Le Chef was suspect when I told him I was making homemade goat cheese. His first question was to ask where I found rennet to make cheese. I coolly explained that the recipe I was using didn’t call for any enzyme and was a simpler version of making cheese. He retorted that I wasn’t making cheese; I was just curdling goat milk. I suppose he would rather I have bought a goat, milked it, slaughtered it to extract rennet, tidied up, and then proceeded with making real homemade goat cheese. Sorry, I guess I’m just not a purist because that seemed like too large a task to accomplish in one short weekend.

So I cheated and made a tasty tarragon curdled goat milk cheese-of-sorts. I heeded Jennifer’s note to reserve some of the whey in case the strained cheese is too dry and I’m glad I did. I squeezed the cheesecloth bundle before hanging to dry, but next time, I think I won’t. I had to add back in a few tablespoons of whey to get the cheese to the consistency I wanted.

This was a fun, quick project and I’ll definitely try making some other cheeses. Heck, I might even hunt down some rennet. I’m going to skip the goat, though. We’re already violating our Homeowners Association rules on number of household animals with the three pups so I’m not going to push my luck.

Homemade Chèvre
from Chez Loulou

1 liter (1 quart) goat's milk - pasteurized or unpasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 clove minced garlic
a pinch or two of sea salt
minced tarragon, to taste

1. Heat the milk over medium heat until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy or meat thermometer.
2. Take the milk off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. The milk should begin to curdle immediately but it may take a little while to get large enough curds to separate from the whey.
3. Line a strainer or colander with several layers of cheesecloth – depending on the tightness of the cheesecloth weave, it may require 3-4 layers. Make sure your layers will drain but aren’t too loose to allow the curds through.
4. Place over a large bowl to catch the whey and ladle the curds and whey into the cheesecloth lined strainer or colander. Reserve some of the whey.
5. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth together and hang from a wooden spoon over a deep bowl for about 60-90 minutes. The consistency will be similar to that of dry cottage cheese. If cheese is too dry, add reserved whey by the tablespoon until the cheese reaches your desired consistency.


  1. Okay - now you have completely crossed over the line from me. I just open my fridge and see what I can make for dinner... you made cheese - WOW. So, how did it taste?

  2. That looks absolutely beautiful! And sounds surprisingly easy. Did you love it?

  3. Well ladies, I have a new found appreciation for what used to seem like expensive artisanal cheeses. After adding up the ingredient expense and time invested, I'd say Pure Luck is a bargain. That being said, my first attempt didn't turn out half bad (it tasted pretty good but I want to work on the consistency) and it was fun to make so I'm definitely going to give another cheese a go!

  4. I'm so glad you had decent results! I thought it was unbelievably easy and delicious.
    Getting more milk from the farm this week and will make another batch, but don't think I'll let it drain so long, as it was a bit too dry.