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Cheesemaking: Chèvre

While I was working on another blog post, I wanted to link back to my recipe for chèvre. It was then that I realized I had never posted one! I was sure I had written it and finally found it in my drafts folder, where it's been sitting for almost a year. So at long last, here it is.


Chèvre is a soft, supposedly easy-to-make goat cheese that is often recommended for beginners. Yet I hadn't tried to make it until last year. Why? Well, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because most recipes for it call for chèvre starter culture, whereas I lean toward sustainable cheese making, i.e. without purchased starters.

The other problem is that it requires such a teensy amount of rennet. The starter culture already contains the rennet, but without that it's another challenge. It only takes a few drops of liquid rennet, but because I now use powdered rennet (why here), the measurement is a little trickier. A regular dose of powdered rennet is only 1/32 teaspoon per gallon of milk, so a smaller dose for chèvre was near impossible. I needed to figure out another way.

A "smidgen" (2nd smallest spoon) of rennet is all I need for a gallon of milk.

I finally started making chèvre the same time I make a firm cheese. I use a scant 1/8 of the regular dissolved rennet, which is perfect for the desired consistency of chèvre. Here's the recipe.

 Chèvre

1 gallon fresh goat milk (see recipe note)
1/4 cup fresh kefir (can use cultured buttermilk or cultured whey)
1/8 of regular rennet dose
1 tablespoon good quality salt

Pour milk into a heavy-bottom pot and stir in the kefir. Slowly warm to 90°F (32°C). Add the rennet and stir well. Cover the pot and let sit for 24 hours. The curd will sink when it's ready to ladle into a cheesecloth lined colander. Cover and drain for 6 hours. Then mix in the salt, tie up the cheesecloth like a bag, and let drain for another hour or two. After that it's ready to eat!

RECIPE NOTE: Most recipes for making cheese call for fresh milk. If you're buying your milk, then it's logical why this is important. If you have your own milk supply, however, there is another reason. As non-homogenized milk sits in the fridge the cream rises to the top. If this milk is used to make cheese, the cream doesn't recombine with the milk, it is lost in the whey. So the fresher the milk, the the higher the fat content in the cheese. Most people think it's tastier this way, but if you want to make lower fat cheeses, this is how.

Chèvre is basically good any time a softer cheese is wanted: for snacking, as a substitute for ricotta in lasagna, as a filling for stuffed pasta or enchiladas, in sandwiches. It's delicious on crackers, perhaps seasoned with herbs or salt and pepper. My favorite ways to eat it are as chèvre cheesecake and cheesecake ice cream (the links will take you to the recipes).

Chèvre and elderberry jelly sandwich.

Chèvre is an expensive cheese to buy, but inexpensive and easy to make!

If you have a favorite recipe for chèvre, I'd love for you to share it.

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