I haven’t posted about my cheese-making efforts in quite awhile, but we are enjoying a wide variety of cheeses made from goat milk. It still amazes me that even though these cheeses are, for the most part, made with pretty much the same ingredients they all have very different flavors and textures. The classic chevre – so creamy and mild. Greek style yogurt – we use it in place of sour cream. Paneer – such an interesting texture with a very mild flavor which is great for curries, and my new favorite everyday cheese – Queso Fresco.
I use Fias Co Farm’s recipe – it is a quick but very flavorful cheese and quite versatile. It melts, slices and grates extremely well. We use it in grilled cheese, lasagna (in place of mozzarella), grated on to tacos or nachos, chunked into salads and just for snacking. I make a batch every other week.
My English Cheddar and Cantal (a French Cheddar) cheeses just turned 3 months old, so we had a tasting. They smelled wonderful but more like gorgonzola than cheddar. The texture of both was closer to a parmesan though, so I’m wondering if goat cheese cheddars don’t need to age as long. I am surprised at how dry and flakey the texture was at 3 months as it was recommended to age them 6 months. I was going to age one of the English cheddars 6 months, but I think it might turn out too dry if I let it go that long. The Cantal was a tiny bit milder, but with a flavor all its own. I wasn’t expecting it to be as dry as it was either. Still, they were both tasty sliced up and served with freshly baked bread.
I made spaghetti carbonara the other night using our guanciale – which turned out great I might add – and used grated English cheddar instead of parmesan. It was delicous. We really like the flavor of both cheeses and I am pleased with how they turned out, but I want to make both of them again only I will not age them as long. I’m curious to see what the texture and flavor will be like at 1 month and 2 months. I wonder if it is the butterfat content of goats milk vs. cows milk that made the difference.
I also have a Romano in the cheese cave that is supposed to age 6 months, but it has already developed a pretty hard rind, so I may break that out sooner rather than later. You can see I didn’t do a very good job getting the cheesecloth into the press smoothly, so there were lots of indentations in the cheese after pressing. Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way that it is crucial to get the cheesecloth as smooth as possible because the cheese gets extra moldy in all of those cracks and crevices and it is difficult to get them cleaned out. After the cheese is aged, I will use a vegetable peeler to get rid of any lingering moldy bits. There were a few areas on the cheddars like that and the vegetable peeler worked great – less loss of cheese rather than trying to slice it off.
During the aging process you wipe the cheeses down daily for a few weeks with a salt solution, but the cheeses with all of the nooks and crannies were especially time consuming to clean and I had to do it for a much longer period of time. Any cheesemakers out there that might read this post – please share any tips or tricks you have for getting the cheesecloth in the mold without bunching – I would be forever indebted!
I made 5 rounds of Camembert a few weeks ago and they should be ready the first of April. After you make and mold the cheeses, they drain on bamboo mats and then you place them in a ripening box. If you don’t have one (like me) you can easily make a ripening bag. I cut a bamboo mat to fit inside a gallon sized ziploc bag, placed the cheeses on the mat, sealed it almost all the way shut, blew air into the small opening to fill it like a ballon then quickly sealed it all of the way. They ripen for a few weeks in the bags, then you wrap them in cheese film and age for 4 weeks in a cheese cave.
So far they look like they are supposed to but this is my first experience with mold-ripened cheeses and I’m keeping my fingers crossed!