In the bleary postpartum haze following baby Tess’ birth, I was struck with sudden inspiration. We would learn to make cheese. Cheese, you ask? Cheese?!? Somewhere between dead-of-the-night feedings of a newborn and endless stories and trips to the park with a toddler, cheesemaking sprung to the top of my must-do list. Blame it on hormones.
Jeff read an article in Make about making goat cheese, so we decided to give it a go. Since we weren’t hitting the clubs much those days, we planned the experiment for a home date night. Yes, pretty wild bunch we are. Due to our failure to plan ahead, we made the mistake of doing steps 1-4 on our date night, which took a grand total of 5 minutes. We spent the rest of the date night twiddling out thumbs and struggling to stay awake until a respectable time to go to bed (say, 8:30pm or so). Then I had to do the more labor-intensive steps 5-9 involving cheesecloth and large amounts of liquids while holding Tess in one arm, when Jeff was at work the next day. Oops.
1 gallon goat milk
¼ c buttermilk
rennet (can buy in specialty stores or online)
1 ½ tsp salt
dried herbs (we used garlic and dill)
cheesecloth or clean handkerchief
large stainless steel pot with lid
1. Sterilize the pot by boiling ¼ cup of water for 5 minutes with the lid on, then discard the water.
2. Combine the goat milk and the buttermilk in the pot, and heat to room temp (65F) over a low flame.
3. Prepare the rennet following the package directions, then add to the pot. Stir well to combine.
4. Let the mixture sit undisturbed at room temp overnight- no jiggling! no prodding!
5. Go to bed. Pray that the baby will sleep for 3 hours in a row.
6. In about 12 hours, the milk should have formed a curd (i.e. be slice-able with a knife). If not, let it sit a few more hours.
7. Boil the cheesecloth to sterilize it, and spread it in a colander.
8. Cut the curd into 1” cubes with a long knife, and scoop them into the cheesecloth.
9. Gather the corners of the cloth and secure with a rubber band. Set the colander over a bowl in the fridge, and let the whey drain overnight. Be sure a check the bowl before you go to bed, as it might be overflowing.
10. Go to bed again. Lower your standards and hope for a 2 hour stretch of sleep.
11. When the cheese is done draining, it will be the consistency of whipped cream cheese. Add salt and herbs of choice.
12. Bring to a party to impress your friends. Or eat it all by yourself during a middle-of-the-night feeding. Really, nobody will know.