Back on the Cheesemaking bandwagon

15 08 2012

Two years is a long time in the blogging world, and most of my followers are relatively new, and possibly unaware that I once made cheese from my goats’ milk.  Until one of them died.  At the time, we had the most dreadful wet weather, things were dying in the garden from wet feet, and, like tomatoes and artichokes, goats hate wet feet.  They hate rain.  I think they hate water, they drink so little of it unless lactating or in bloody hot weather…..  I was told by another goat herding Permie at the time that goats are very hardy and rarely get sick, but if they do, there’s a good chance they don’t pull through.  And so it was with Push, who died leaving us with a kid to hand rear.  The other Nanny, Shove, really wasn’t happy either, and with her twins wanting loads of milk and me worrying about whether she’d get sick and die too, made the decision to stop milking to avoid weakening her.  All that wet weather made the tick and worms situation far worse than normal, and unbeknown to us, a tick crawled up Shove’s only female kid’s nose, and killed her before we realised she did not have a respiratory problem after all.  Young kids are very prone to terminal tick bites, one made me very very sick bordering on two years ago, almost certainly being the reason I now suffer from Chronic Fatigue……  but life goes on.

This winter is back to normal and dry.  As reported earlier, Shove had a little girl, who is doing very well with all the milk her mum’s making for her.  It’s the first time Shove has not had twins, and frankly I’m grateful we have another girl now, and no boys to slaughter.

Jezebelle is now a month old, and I’ve started separating her from her mother in the evening, allowing the udder to fill out overnight.  I got 750 mL yesterday, and 650 this morning, plus the dregs I pick up at the evening milking; it should only take four days now to accumulate enough milk to make some cheese.  If you ever wonder why cheese is so dear in the shops, make your own!  Four litres of milk barely makes 800 grams of cheese, and the whole process will take you about 3 hours, not counting the overnight draining of the whey from the curds……  but it’s all worth it to get that amazing raw milk cheese!

This was also the first time I made cheese on the AGA.  The heat escaping through the lid of the simmering plate turns out to be exactly right to keep the milk in its double boiler at exactly 30°C for two and a half hours…… or as long as you like really.  Makes you wonder if the AGA people designed the stove like this.  Probably not.

The cheesemaking process isn’t that hard, once you buy yourself a kit.  I got mine from Green Living, but I will have to get more supplies, I’m now out of culture, and besides, I want to have a go at making the wonderful Camemberts my mate Serge makes with his goat milk in Gympie…. they are to die for!  So I’ll have to buy a Camembert kit which includes the white mould needed for that sort of cheese.

To mature cheese properly, it needs to be kept at around 10° to 13°C, a piece of cake in Normandy, but a big ask in sub tropical Australia where there’s nowhere cool enough (not even in winter) to do this, and conventional refrigeration at 4°C means the cheese takes for ever to mature.

To get around this, I decided to duplicate the “cool idea”, but this time programming the controller to run a freezer (an Aldi upright device bought new for just $150) at between 10° and 13°.  That black wire inside the fridge is the temperature probe.  It should use bugger all power at that temperature, when it cycles on it’s only for about two minutes, and that only seems to be occurring every couple of hours or so, for what should be a total of less than twenty minutes a day (I expect it hardly comes on at night).  Interestingly, even though the controller shuts the freezer down at the correct temperature, there’s enough momentum in the cooling coils for the unit to continue cooling to about 9°C.  I’m also keeping the butter in there to stop it going hard…

Hopefully soon, it will be full of delicious cheese I can share with friends….


Jezebelle is now 15months old, and producing more milk than any of my other goats ever did, averaging almost two litres a day.

And all my friends have been drooling over her cheese!  At any one time, I’ll have twenty Camemberts in the fridge, and I also have now made three cheddar type cheeses wrapped in sexy red wax (can’t be really called that, cheddar’s made with cow’s milk…) and my first batch of blue vein.  Really cannot wait for them to be mature enough to eat!



8 responses

15 08 2012

Try making some Haloumi – you don’t need any culture just rennet.
Halloumi is a hard cheese made predominantly in Cyprus, from sheep’s or goat’s milk. It can be made from cow’s milk quite successfully.
1. Heat the milk to between 32 and 34 degrees C.
2. Add rennet at a rate of 2.0 mL for each 10 litres of milk, diluting it with at least 10 times its volume of cool boiled water, i.e. 20 mL of cool boiled water to each two mL of rennet. Then pour the diluted rennet immediately into the milk, taking care to pour it over as much of the surface as possible, stirring all the time while pouring it in. Mix in well for no less than one minute and no more than three minutes. Maintain the setting temperature.
3. Allow the milk to set. This should take 40 minutes, and should be a firm set.
4. Cut the curd into 20 to 40 mm cubes, then let stand for five minutes before stirring gently and heating to 40 degrees C over 20 minutes.
5. Allow the curd to settle to the bottom and form into one solid mass.
6. Remove all of the whey, then press down on the curd to help it knit together, before placing it into a cheese cloth.
7. Press the curd in the cloth by hand by tightening the cloth around the curds. Finally weights may be placed on top until it is firm enough for your liking.
8. Heat the whey to 90 degrees C and collect with a ladle any curd that rises to the surface. Bring the whey to boiling point.
9. Remove the cheese from the cloth, cut it into blocks of size 50x100x150mm and place into the hot whey. The curd will sink to the bottom. After 45 minutes and up to 90 minutes the curd will start to float. The whey needs to be kept heated during this time, or the curd will not float. When all of the curd has risen to the surface, wait a further 15 minutes, then remove and place on a wooden rack.
10. After 20 minutes the cheese is ready for salting. Sprinkle salt on the cheese and leave them until they are cold. A variation of Halloumi can be made at this stage by placing some mint on the top of the cheese, then folding it in half with the mint in the middle, before salting and cooling.
11. Place the cheese into a brine solution. The brine can be made by adding 300 g of salt to each litre of cool boiled water. (Was too salty try using 150g / L of water – may not store as long though).
12. Store the cheese in the brine solution in the refrigerator. It can be eaten immediately or stored for months in this way.

21 08 2012

Thanks for that…. I’ll give it a try. I have eaten Haloumi, and I like it too.

17 08 2012
danny boon

Mike, cheesy as it may sound, it is surprising how enjoyable it is reading a real life story like this …. I guess its a ‘by association’ pleasure

18 08 2012

Hi Mike,
Could you tell me where you got your thermostat from. I have been unable to find them on the net.

18 08 2012
21 08 2012

Thanks Mike. Soon I’ll be able to make cheese all year.

13 12 2013
Steve Short

Fascinating article. Just one comment from someone who ran a small herd of (Saanen + British Alpine crosses) milking goats many years ago in Tasmania. If Jezebelle is only producing less than 2 litres a day she is a low rate ( small maybe?) milk producing goat. A good Saanen or BA should be able to produce between 2.2 and 5.9 litres a day for the standard 305 day lactation cycle. A 2.1 number or less would be considered marginal in a herd. The higher volumes (>4 litres/day) can be obtained from a large, well formed goat (udder) fed a daily good bran supplement and maybe with (the secret ingredient) a shot of 10 mLs of mutton bird oil or fish oil in that bran.

13 12 2013

Yes, she is small. Her mother died when she was less than 3 months and we had to hand feed her to adulthood. To be honest… I couldn’t cope with more than 2L/day!

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