Chevre is a very easy cheese to make – it’s great for your first cheese. You can use it on crackers, bagels or in pasta…it’s a soft cheese, and can be used in place of cream cheese. I salt it and flavor it with roasted garlic.
Cheesemaking isn’t hard, but you do have to be very clean to not allow any foreign cultures in the cheese, and follow the directions precisely. One thing I’ve found is that you should not cook at the same time you are making cheese. I’m not sure why, but no matter how fastidious I am, the cheese does not work if I make it while cooking anything else. I think that “cultures” from the food mix with the cultures from the cheese, and I get something I didn’t plan on. My recommendation is to make cheese when you’re not doing anything else in the kitchen.
What you will need:
On medium-low heat, bring the milk to 72 degrees in a large pot.
Add the culture. Use the amount of culture according to the package directions. My culture calls for 1/8 teaspoon per 1 gallon.
Stir well. When you stir the milk, use an up and down motion to incorporate the culture throughout the milk.
Add the rennet. Again, use the amount of liquid rennet according to your package directions. I have double strength vegetarian rennet, which calls for 2 – 3.5 drops per gallon. I definitely think getting the liquid rennet is a good idea for cheese. It is much easier to measure than the tablets.
Stir in an up and down motion for 15 seconds.
Now the cheese has to form the curd. This will take about 18 hours. Put the lid on your pot and place it where it won’t be disturbed for 18 hours. I put mine on a shelf in the pantry overnight.
Once you get a clean break (stick your knife in the curd, and if it cuts and the yellow whey fills in the cut, you have a clean break) now you are ready to hang the cheese.
Line the colander with the cheesecloth and gently spoon the curd into the cloth. Your curd should be off-white and the whey should be yellowish. If the curd has tiny round holes, and the whey is grey, the cheese has become contaminated. It has to be discarded. This has happened to me when I cook and try to make cheese.
Tie two opposite corners of the cheesecloth together, and the remaining two opposite corners together, and hang for 6 hours. You can hang over your sink, or from the door handles of your upper cabinets over a large bowl. They whey will continue to drip out.
After 6 hours, take the cheese down and remove it from the cloth.
I store the cheese in a plastic Tupperware-type container. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of cheese salt or kosher salt in the bottom of the container, put half of the cheese in the container, layer with roasted garlic, minced (about 4 cloves) and salt (1 tsp), place the other half of the cheese and sprinkle with another teaspoon of salt. (Any herb can be substituted for the garlic. We've made fig, honey and basil chevre!)
Once the cheese has been in the refrigerator overnight, the salt and garlic mingle throughout. You can stir the ingredients together, or crumble them together if you wish. My family loves this on bagels and tossed in pasta with sun-dried tomatoes….yum!