Making Cheese at Home #9 Goat’s Curd
It’s been way too long since I made cheese at home. The one thing you can’t do when you have no kitchen or your kitchen is in a mess is to make cheese because you really need a clean, sterile environment. You also need time to make cheese, which I have also been a bit short of as late. Hopefully I will rectify the cheese making drought soon, but in the meantime this months Sweet Adventures Blog Hop has spurred me on. I can’t reveal what my cheesy dessert is until Monday but I can tell you my key ingredient as I had to get organised and make it in advance. My dessert will involve Goat’s curd. I don’t want to get into a debate as to whether curd is cheese. It is the substance that is required to make cheese so I would deem it cheese in it’s basic form.
You can buy goat’s curd but it is difficult to come by where I live and it’s not always practical to get to the markets (where you can often find it) as they are either not that close or not on every weekend. Why would you drive for 40 minutes and try and park in the centre of Sydney when you can whip up some goat’s curd in your kitchen in about an hour.
If you have ever made ricotta at home then you can already make goat’s curd. It’s the same process but with goat’s milk. Although, the key thing to remember with goat’s milk is it is much more delicate than cows milk. You have to treat it gently or you will break up the fragile curds. Handle with a light touch and you will have a great result every time.
The other important thing to remember when making cheese is the milk needs to be as fresh as possible. Again, in an ideal world I would buy from the markets but this week it had to be the supermarket. Just make sure the milk has at least 7 days until the best before date. Don’t be tempted to use the milk they are selling off cheaply because it is nearly out of date. It will probably work but the yield of curd will be much less.
2 litres goat’s milk
75ml lemon juice
2-5g non-iodised salt
You will also need a thermometer and cheesecloth.
In a large nonreactive pan gently heat the milk until it reaches 85C. Don’t heat too quickly as the milk may burn on the bottom of the pan and try not to stir, because if it does catch on the bottom you don’t want to agitate and get the burnt bits in your cheese.
Once the milk reaches the correct temperature add the lemon juice, trying to pour it over as much of the surface as possible. Stir quickly to combine but not too much. I usually do 2 quick dips. Stirring too much will break up the delicate curds.
Put a lid on the pan and leave to stand for 15 minutes for the curds to form. After this time the milk should have separated and you will be left with a raft of curd on top of the whey. If you stir too much this will break up and reduce the yield. This is what you are aiming for.
The video demonstrates what the curd should looks like when it is ready. You can see how firm it is and how the curd is separated from the whey. If you try and drain it too soon you won’t have this kind of separation.
While the curd is forming boil the cheese cloth in a small pan of water to sterilise it. Drape the cheesecloth in a sieve and carefully remove the raft of curds. Many recipes tell you to pour the contents of the pan through the cheesecloth but I don’t do this as the movement of the whey breaks up the curds too much. Removing the raft carefully also guarantees you don’t get any burnt bits from the bottom of the pan.
Leave the curds to drain for 20-30 minutes. The longer you leave it the drier the curds will be. As I want to use this as a curd I don’t want it to be too dry so I transferred it to a tub for storage after about 20 minutes. At this stage you will need to season it to taste. If you do this in the sieve it will draw more moisture from the curd so I added the salt in the storage tub. This means if any more whey comes out I can stir it back into the curd.
The amount of salt required will depend on your taste and how much curd you get. My milk yielded 350g and required 2g of salt. If you are not sure how much salt to add I would start with a little bit then taste. You can always add more salt but you can’t remove it.
Allow to cool then store in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for at least a week, probably longer, but it has never been in my fridge long enough to work out how long is too long.
Use in recipes that require goat’s curd or just spread on crackers and enjoy. I have not had much success draining this type of goats cheese long enough to hold it’s shape like a shop bought soft goats cheese. That kind of cheese requires the addition of rennet.