Last spring, we embarked on the joyous journey of raising our own dairy goats. Not every day has been easy; goats definitely have personality! We would like to try raising a Jersey cow at some point, perhaps sooner than later.
In any case, a fantastic benefit of raising your own dairy (or finding a good source of local, raw, pastured dairy) is having extra milk for cheese. I don’t have as much extra milk as I’d like. We purchased the milking goats during lactation and most all of them declined in production due to the stress of switching homesteads – and most likely, a change in diet played a part in that, too.
But regardless, I’ve had extra milk to turn into cheese and kefir. The freezer’s got a shelf full of frozen cheeses stored for the time when our does get a break from milking due to pregnancy. So I won’t complain!
4 Easy Raw Cheese Recipes
Are you interested in raw cheese-making? I’ve tried a bunch of recipes, and four of them I make over and over again. These are the cheeses that we eat daily (and that also populate my freezer) offering all the benefits of raw cultured milk, such as beneficial bacteria and enzymes. None of these cheeses go over 93 degrees Fahrenheit; they can still be called raw with the enzymes and bacteria intact.
Note: You may use the whey from all these cheeses in your lacto-fermentation and/or soaking.
All these cheeses and more are taught in my Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eCourse with videos and print tutorials, starting at just $8/mo.
Chevre or Soft Cheese
My recipe takes off from Fias Co. Farm (like most of the recipes I follow), and it is delicious! We spread it on toast, or use it as the dairy base for a delicious creamy dressing. This is a 48-hour cheese and it pretty much makes itself. 24 hours for culturing, and 24 hours for dripping. I use two layers of 90-count cheesecloth and find no need to hang the cheese up – a colander suspended in a pot works just fine. I have learned alot about this process since my first attempt and you’ll see all my tweaks in my current recipe (guest posted at Edible Aria).
Whenever we have too much kefir around, it inevitably becomes cheese following a simple dripping process. You can read about it here in my Probiotic Potato Salad recipe – although I no longer find it necessary to hang the bag of dripping kefir. I drip it through two layers of 90 count cheesecloth in a colander suspended in a pot. This cheese can also be used in the delicious creamy dressing or spread on toast, or seasoned up as a dip for veggies. Yogurt can be turned into a similar cheese.
What I really love about this cheese is that it is a raw cheese that shreds and melts. I have not made mozarella or other high-temperature cheeses yet because I hesitate to destroy all the beneficial bacteria and enzymes in raw milk. So for now, I’ve happily settled on this cheese to fill the purpose of a shreddable, meltable cheese that retains its good enzymes and bacteria. It requires a little extra attention at the cooking stage – you must nurture the curds as they slowly rise in temperature from 86 to 93 degrees F. This cheese does need a press; I use the Tome/St. Paulin mold and follower from The Diary Connection. (Thank you, Annette, for sharing this resource.) I weight it down with my husband’s weight-lifting weights – it needs 35 pounds of pressure by the end of the pressing. After pressing, you age it in the refrigerator for 3 days and then it is ready to eat! I’ll be pulling some out of the fridge today that just finished.
Also from Fias Co Farm, this feta cheese is easy to make. It does stink up the house, just like the author says. This is due to the culturing with calf lipase. One day my husband said he wasn’t sure he wanted to make cheese any more, the smell was so strong. But it is worth it, we’ve all come to agree. You’ll follow steps of culturing and setting the milk, cutting the curds, firming up the curds at a low temperature while the whey continues to separate out, and then hanging the cheese for 24 hours to harden. Then you cut the feta into chunks and allow it to age for three days before putting it into a salt water brine where it must age for another month. The result is absolutely delicious! You’ve never had feta cheese until you taste a homemade, fresh feta.
I will continue this series in the coming days. We’ll talk about the benefits of raw cheese, basic cheesemaking equipment and utensils, and anything else that might come up!
Update: Here’s part 2 of this series: Basic Cheesemaking Cultures and Supplies. And here’s part 3: Raw Cheese Benefits.
Also see my online class, the Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eCourse, for videos and print tutorials, starting at just $8/mo.
What cheese do you make or would you like to make? Do you have any questions about anything I’ve shared? What kind of information would you like to know about cheesemaking?