by Jenny Brown
I have tried a handful of different soft cheese recipes, some requiring special purchased cultures. As it turns out, my family’s favorite so far is a recipe that calls for the easiest attainable culture…yogurt!
Although all the soft cheeses I have made with goat milk have a slightly more sour taste than cream cheese, this recipe is the mildest we’ve tried. Chevre is our next in line of favorites but it does require a packaged culture.
~Homemade Chevre ~
I buy all my cheese cultures from New England Cheese-making Supply
How to Make Yogurt Cheese
You will need:
1 gallon fresh goat milk
1/2 c plain yogurt*
herbs of choice*
instant read thermometer, wire whisk, large spoon (slotted is nice but not necessary), glass measuring cup
strainer that fits inside a larger bowl
* Use a quality brand yogurt such as Mountain High – I have tried to use my own homemade goat-milk yogurt and it does not set.
* Chopped fresh oregano or dill are our family’s favorites
Make sure everything is washed thoroughly with hot soapy water, rinsed with clean running water, and air dried. If you use a dishwasher, you can run your pot, bowls, strainer, and utensils through a sanitary wash.
Pour milk (1 gallon) into a clean stainless steel pot
Prepare a rennet mixture by measuring out 1/3 cup water and adding 8 drops of rennet. Stir and set aside.
Measure out 1/2 cup of quality yogurt; set aside.
Heat milk over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it reaches 95°. Turn off heat and move pot off hot burner to prevent the temperature from increasing.
From the rennet mixture, give it a good stir and measure out 1 Tablespoon. Pour into warmed milk. Stir thoroughly.
(Gotta love that ‘farmgirl’ nail polish I’m modeling, the kind that only stays on for 1/2 a day because I end up out in the garden as soon as it dries. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother!)
Transfer or dispose of remaining rennet mixture and fill glass measuring cup half full of the warmed milk. Add pre-measured yogurt (1/2 cup) and mix thoroughly.
Add yogurt-milk mixture to pot and stir thoroughly.
Let milk stand covered and undisturbed for 12-18 hours. The longer it sits, the more sour it will be. I usually leave mine on the stove overnight. If you are planning to cook, move it elsewhere; the heat could affect the culture.
Check it around 12 hours; if you slightly tip the pot you will be able to see if a thick curd has formed. You should see a firm curd and a separate liquid that is very watery (whey) . If it looks firm, test it with a clean stainless steel spoon. It should be similar to a yogurt consistancy and hold it’s shape when lifted with a spoon. If it just pours out of the spoon, it needs more time.
When it’s ready, spoon the curds into a cheese-cloth lined strainer that sits inside a larger bowl to catch the whey.
Tie up the corners of the cheese-cloth and hang it to drain for 6-12 hours. The less time you drain, the more moist and ‘sweet’ it is; draining longer will give it a drier texture and the cheese will be more on the sour side. So, drain time depends on your preference. We prefer the ‘moister-sweeter’ cheese so I stick right around 6 hours.
You can use a long utensil (such as a shish-kabob skewer), feed it through the knot, and let it hang in the pot like this…
To minimize sourness, place the pot in the fridge to drain. It makes a slight difference but not drastic.
Once the cheese has drained, place it in a mixing bowl and mix in salt and herbs to taste by mashing it with a fork (like you would when making a pie crust). Reshape the cheese into a ball with a large rounded spoon or press into a mold.
Refrigerate until chilled. Serve with crackers and enjoy!
It’s funny, I brought this cheese to a Wine and Cheese party and was feeling a bit insecure about my ‘yogurt cheese’, knowing that all these fancy expensive gourmet cheeses would be competing and set out on the same table. My simple yogurt cheese was a hit! It made me smile to see people loading up their crackers again and again and asking what this fabulous cheese was. 🙂
*The left over whey can be used as a replacement for water in your bread recipes or you can serve it to your chickens as a healthy drink!