Goat cheese is one of life's loveliest pleasures, as far as we're concerned, but until recently we had never tried making it ourselves. Goodness, why not?! Thanks to our friends at Home Ec., who gave us this kit from Urban Cheesecraft to try, we have a delicious new hobby.Packed inside a small cardboard carton, the goat cheese kit contained an instruction and recipe booklet, two plastic goat cheese molds, butter muslin/fine cheesecloth, a dairy thermometer, and packets of citric acid and cheese salt. All we had to supply were two quarts of goat's milk to make a 3/4 pound batch of fresh (non-aged) goat cheese.
After sterilizing our tools in boiling water, we were ready to begin. We heated the goat's milk in a large non-reactive pot and then added a mixture of citric acid and water. Ta-da, the curds separated from the whey, and we strained it into a cloth-lined colander. (We saved the whey to use in other recipes.) We mixed in cheese salt and herbs, then spooned the curds into the molds. (In addition to the two molds that came with the kit, we used our ceramic tea strainer to make a third wheel.)
The instructions suggested that a jar or bottle could be used to press down on the curds and create firmer cheese wheels. We discovered that rice-filled Spega yogurt jars were just the perfect size. After an hour of refrigeration, we had nice, firm goat cheese. Un-molding was easy with the help of a small offset spatula. (Note: the recipe booklet also includes instructions for creamy goat cheese.)
The process is similar to making ricotta, paneer, or queso fresco, but for some reason we had never tried making cheese from goat's milk. Now there's no stopping us! Experimenting with herbs and spices is the really fun part. Our favorite cheese so far had a heavenly blend of fennel seeds and pollen, lemon peel, and lavender.
Although one could certainly assemble cheese-making supplies on one's own, we like how this kit makes getting started so simple and non-intimidating. All of the components are useful and of good quality. We think it could make a great gift for a food-loving friend, a young cook, or just yourself!
In addition to the goat cheese kit, Urban Cheesecraft also makes kits for mozzarella, ricotta, paneer, and queso blanco. Kits range from $23-28 and are available on Etsy (note: the shop is closed for the holidays and will reopen January 6), as well as from Home Ec. in Los Angeles and online (Home Ec. is still shipping for the holidays). Also check out the Urban Cheesecraft Web site for retail locations in Oregon and Washington.