farm fresh [cheese curds]

Oh my, how I’ve MISSED you!!!!

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Over the weekend, I shared a gallon of goat milk with the kids to make one of Katie’s favorites: farmstead [herbed] cheese curds. They’re great for snacking, tossing onto a fresh green salad, etc.

Two days earlier, I cultured one quart of buttermilk [with goat’s milk, naturally] following the purchased ‘starter’ directions. I use the buttermilk as a starter for most of my soft cheeses.

I used one of my fav cheesemaking recipes from ‘Goats Produce Too’ by Mary Jane Toth. I modified her cheddar recipe by simply halving the recipe and omitting the pressing/aging. 

The most difficult part of the recipe is deciding which herbs/seasoning to add????

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This batch was ‘seasoned’ with fresh dill and one clove of garlic! YUM!!

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To press or NOT to press ~ Cheese Curds?

I have not YET ventured into the world of HARD or PRESSED cheesemaking since my on-going love affair with my goats.  Did you know that cheese is basically milk, a starter culture & rennet. The difference between one cheese and another is the temp the milk is heated to, the type of culture added and the way it is ‘processed’.

HARD cheese takes the home do-it-yourselfer to the next level of cheesemaking, requiring pressing (to force out the whey), waxing and aging under controlled temp and humidity. I’m told, you could use a spare refrigerator to duplicate a make-do cheese cave? But, I don’t have a spare refrigerator…

Awhile back, a fellow goatie told me of herbed cheese curds she delighted in when traveling to and from Wisconsin to visit a daughter. Hmmm…why can’t I attempt to make a HARD cheese…just short of pressing, waxing and aging? 

I have made my herbed cheese curds (with my goat milk) three times now, and appears to be a big hit with everyone who tastes it! Once again, add a different herb for a different variety…it’s great for snacking or tossing on a salad, etc.

If I can do it, you can make it too!

You’ll need 1 gallon fresh goat milk, 1/4 cup cultured buttermilk (a mesophilic non-heat loving culture; this is your starter), 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet and 1/4 cup cool water.

Warm milk to 88 degrees F. Stir in 1/4 cup buttermilk and allow milk to ripen for 1 hour, maintaining temp at 88 degrees. Add 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet to 1/4 cup cool water and add to milk. Hold temp at 88 degrees and allow to ‘set’ for 45-minutes.

Curds and whey should be visible. Cut into 1/4-inch cubes and allow to rest for 20-minutes. Stir gently while increasing the temp from 88 to 98-degrees ~ slowly ~ over a 30-minute period.

Then, keep stirring gently at 98 degrees for additional 30 – 45 minutes until the curds no longer have a custard-like interior. Allow the curds to settle to the bottom of the pot.

Pour off they whey; drain the curds in a colander for 10-minutes. Place the curds back into the pot and gently break-up the curds with a spoon. Add 2-teaspoons cheese or kosher coarse (non-iodized) salt. Mix well.

Keep the salted curds warm at about 98-degrees by placing the pot in a sink of hot water for 1-hour stirring every so often.

After the salted curds have set for an hour, drain off any liquid. Add fresh minced herbs, garlic, etc to taste and stir gently (you want the curds to remain in tact). Place herbed curds into a colander lined w/cheesecloth (I used a ricotta ‘basket’ mold).

Allow to drain for 2 – 3 hours, stirring once or twice to keep curds separate. Refrigerate and enjoy!