My kids love cheese (who doesn’t). In fact, despite my regular efforts to put a wide variety of food on their plates each day, I’m pretty sure they would both exist entirely on cheese and fruit if given the opportunity. This is something I struggle with as a parent because on one hand, cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, but on the other, it is high in fat and sodium and I’d like to expose them to a wider variety of foods.
Lately I’ve been serving more flavorful cheeses in smaller quantities. Goat cheese, or Chèvre, for example has a pretty strong cheese flavor and so a little bit goes a long way. It spreads easily on crackers or toast and can be sprinkled on everything from frittatas to salads to roasted vegetables imparting the food with an awesome cheesy flavor.
Last year, my kids’ preschool held a silent auction fundraiser and one of the items up for bid was a gift certificate to a local wine and cheese making store along with a book called “Artisan Cheese Making At Home” by Mary Karlin. The bidding was competitive, but I won and off I went to Curds and Wine for my supplies (they have an online store as well). The store owner, Gisela Claassen, was very informative and helpful with selecting my supplies. Since my family is so hot on chevre, I wanted to start there and it turns out that this type of cheese is phenomenally easy and cheap to make. In fact, the toughest part was finding the goats milk because you can’t use ultra-pasteurized milk to make cheese and that is what most stores sell (read more about ultra-pasturized milk). However, on Gisela’s recommendation, I did find some low heat pasteurized goat’s milk (unfortunately not organic) at Trader Joes for $6.98 per half gallon.
Enough talking, it’s time to make some chèvre. Here’s what you will need:
Materials: large non-reactive stockpot, thermometer, whisk, plastic colander, glass bowl
Remove the milk from the burner and sprinkle 1/4 tsp of Chevre Starter Culture over the milk. Allow the starter culture to rehydrate for 2 minutes and then stir the culture into the milk using an up and down movement.
Cover the pot and leave to culture for approximately 12 hours at between 72 F – 78 F. I keep mine in the microwave (not running of course).
After 12 hours, the curds will have formed into a thick yogurt-like substance at the bottom of the pot with the yellowish whey on top. If this is what yours looks like, you are ready to strain the cheese.
I mixed 2 Tablespoons of pesto into the cheese after about 3 hours and then continued to drain. You can either leave plain or mix herbs into the mixture. Put cheese in a covered container in the refrigerator and it should keep for about 1 week.
Cost (prices reflect the cost of portion used for recipe):
Goats Milk – $6.98
Chèvre Culture – $0.60
Butter Muslin – $1.19
Total Cost: $8.77 or $0.67 per ounce (my batch yielded 13 ounces). At my local Sprouts market, I found a 4 oz package of chèvre for $2.99 or $0.75 per ounce. Therefore, this doesn’t really qualify as a huge money saving activity, but it is a fun project and if you can find a source for lower cost goat milk it would be even cheaper. There is also something to be said for making something yourself with fresh ingredients that just can’t compare to store bought. See below for a discount code on cheese making supplies.
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