Goats Cheese Info Page:
Instructions for the Cheese Monkey goats cheese making kit can be downloaded here
Goats cheese is a having a bit of renaissance with the help of back to the landers and artisan cheese makers. It one of the oldest and perhaps the oldest cheese that has ever been made. It works well as an acid separated cheese and with luck, the natural occurring bacteria will work with the lactose in the goats milk to form lactic acid, thus lowering the pH of the cheese and causing coagulation. The most traditional method of making goats cheese is to use bacteria and no rennet. The cheese monkey recipe uses citric acid for speed and reliability and most commercial goats cheese is made with a small amount of rennet to make it slightly firmer and easier the handle/package.
Goats’ cheese differs in both flavour and texture from cows cheese. The difference between goat and cow cheese are due to differences in the milk. The most important thing from the point of view of making cheese is that of the four types of casein protein in cheese, one of them (alpha S1 casein) is almost entirely absent from goats’ milk. This is important because alpha-S1 casein is responsible for most of the firmness and rigidity in the structure of cheese. Regardless of what recipe is followed or how it is pressed, goats’ cheese will still collapse under its own weight, for this reason there is no point in pressing the curds when making goats cheese. For cheesemakers, this lack of curd-knitting can cause issues when the recipe is followed – do not expect to get good, firm curds that can be cut with a knife. The pH of the milk s made more acidic for making goats milk than most cows milk recipes (pH4.6 rather then pH5.5) the lower pH helps to ensure that curds will form even without the alphaS1 casein it also helps to give the cheese its distinct sharp taste.
Goats milk cheese has almost exactly the same total fat content as cows milk, it does however have an abundance of the “medium sized” fatty acids in particular capric, caprylic and caproic acids – these Goaty Fats are responsible for the distinct taste associated with goats milk.
It is traditional for goat cheeses to be very salty this is because it was (and still is) associated with areas of the world that have less availability of refrigeration than you are probably used to. If you are intending to add enough salt to actually preserve the cheese it needs to be in the region of 5%. The cheese monkey recipe is intended to use salt as a flavour enhancer rather than as a preservative. We include cheese salt (which is a non-iodised salt) if you want to add more salt than included in the kit then we recommend a non-iodised salt, such as organic sea-salt. Lower levels of salt (1%) can actually accelerate spoilage of cheese by promoting some bacteria.
Full instructions are included with the Cheese Monkey kit and just in case you lose them, they are also available for download as a pdf.
You will need… ● Equipment: Saucepan, Draining Spoon, thermometer, cheese cloth, strainer/colander ● Ingredients: 2L fresh goats’ milk, 1 tsp citric acid, 1 tsp cheese salt, 1 tsp herbs de provence
Making Goats Cheese…
Dissolve acid: add citric acid to 125ml water. Stir to dissolve.
Heat milk: add citric acid solution to milk and heat gently. Keep constantly stirring to prevent the milk catching on the bottom. Stop heating at 850C and take off the heat.
Forming Curds: take the pan off the heat and leave to stand for 10-15 minutes. You should see curds and whey forming. The curds will be much smaller than when making cheese with cow’s milk.
Draining cuds and whey: line a colander with the cheese cloth and pour in the contents of the saucepan. Keep the whey as it drains. Draining can take over and hour. NB: if no curds are caught in cloth; return the milk to saucepan, add more citric acid (1/2 tsp), re-heat and then drain through a double layer of the cheesecloth.
Salt and flavour: when the whey has drained, sprinkle the salt over the curds and mix in. You can also add flavouring at this point. Many flavours work well with goats cheese; try chilli flakes, fennel, fresh chives … or whatever takes your fancy!
Shaping: place the cheese cloth onto a flat surface and spoon the cheese along the centre. Roll the cloth to form the cheese into a sausage shape. Carefully unwrap you cheese and sprinkle the herbs over the surface.
Eat: your fresh cheese is ready to eat straight away but will last for a few days in the fridge. The more salt you add the longer it lasts, up to one week.
Flavours: we include mixed herds for coating the outside of the cheese, but you can play around and experiment with different flavours. All sorts of dried or fresh herds will work, if you are unsure as to what will/won’t taste good then why not divide a batch of goats cheese into four and roll balls of cheese in different coatings? I’m a big fan of herb mixes that contain mint – it perfectly complements the sharpness of the goat. Ash: Or how about goats cheese coated in ash? This is now an aesthetically pleasing commercial process but began as an essential method of preserving cheese. In the olden days then curds from the morning milking were laid down in the mould and to prevent spoilage, a layer of ash wash dusted over the top to provide a physical and chemical barrier to bacteria, insects and pregnant flies. The curd from the afternoon milking would be layered over the ash and more ash scattered over that – the results was an ash coated cheese with an encapsulated layer of ash half way up. Ash is good at absorbing moisture and is alkali – in the case of goats cheese it is sometimes used to allow the growth of bacteria on the surface; goats cheese tends to be acidic and this can prevent a rind forming – the ash neutralizes the acid. The powdered nature of ash also makes it easier to apply to the very soft, crumbly surface of goats cheese than other traditional coatings. If you are going to try using an ash coating then make a mix of 1:5 salt:activated-charcoal and dust it over the surface, the slat will draw moisture the surface, which will in turn hydrate the ash. Only use food safe ash and be aware that burning materials can concentrate elements, heavy metals etc.
Only our larger goats cheese kits include rennet, but if you have some you’d like to use then ad approx 30% the amount you’ use for a cows’ milk cheese after the acid has dissolved and leave a little longer than in the recipe. Adding too much rennet to goats cheese can make a weird spongy cheese – so be cautious.
Goats cheese are not pressed, but rather left for the whey to drain under the weight of curds. If you have a cheese mould or if not you can just perforate a yoghurt pot (bottom and sides). Place the curds into the pot and after a few hours sprinkle salt on top, then take it out the following morning and invert it, place it back into the mould and sprinkle more slat on the bottom (now the top!). The salt draws moisture out of the cheese, so it is best if the cheese can be left somewhere with a breeze to dry off the surface moisture.
I have heard and read some notions about goats’ milk being healthier than cows milk – and by extension goats’ cheese also being healthier than cows’ cheese. If you read above about the different properties of goats’ milk you will note it does have a lower amount of lactose than cows’ milk – but it is very marginal (4.1% rather than 4.7%) so unlikely to make a noticeable difference. It does however have different casein components, so if you are one of the few people that are adversely affected by alpha-casein then you will find the goats’ milk cheese more palatable.
Goats are browsers and not grazers – this means that they eat all sorts of plants and don’t have a preference for grass, consequently there can be a great deal of variation in the taste of goats milk cheese depending upon the time of year, location and diet of the goat that produced the milk.
Goats can see behind themselves, with almost 360 degree vision – helped by rectangular pupils this is a handy trick for preventing attack from wolves, but not so handy for looking forwards – in fact goats forward vision is so poor that they are not allowed to drive!
Goats cheese is best eaten with a dry white wine.
Billy goats stink because they urinate into their own mouths and then dribble the urine down their beards.