Friday, April 13, 2012

For the Love of Dairy, Part 3: Blessed Are the (Goat) Cheesemakers

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.


  1. I've been there on the (lame) date nights . . . one year we baked a couple pies for Valentine's Day while someone else watched the kids. Your goat cheese looks delicious! I posted on goat cheese recently, too, and used a starter culture instead. It took about 18 hours start to finish, so it sounds pretty close to how long yours was. I have gotten up at 3 AM to work on recipes way too many times, so I schedule cheese out ahead of time now--it's saved me some serious sleep!

  2. Jody, thanks for the comments! Can you send me your blog address? I'd love to check it out.