Monday, May 26, 2014
Fresh Herb Cheese
Well, it was time to try a new cheese. I ran across a recipe for Garlic and Chive Cheese in Mary Jane Toth's book, Goats Produce Too! and decided to give it a try. You can look back at some of the other cheese making articles to see some specific techniques like using a double boiler, what the curd looks like when it is ready, using a cheese press and making buttermilk culture.
This is a very simple cheese. The milk is heated to 86 degrees before adding buttermilk and rennet. Let it sit for 45 minutes covered. Then slowly raise the temperature while stirring the curd until it is hot to the touch. I was unsure of how long to heat the curd using this method. I would rather be given a specific temperature, but this time I had to make my best guess. I think I might have cooked it too long, or got it a little too hot, I'm not sure.
After the curd was cooked, it was time to pour off the whey. Next, the recipe called for rinsing the curd in very warm water, another new step I hadn't done before. Then, after the curd drained in a colander for about 10 minutes, it was time to add the salt and herbs. The recipe called for garlic powder and chives. I don't have garlic powder, and my chives didn't smell much like onions. So I substituted a small head of garlic and two small green onions from the top of one of my multiplier or walking onions. The amount of garlic powder was 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. After I chopped up this small head of garlic I figured that was about right. The amount of chives was to taste. Well, we like onions, but I wasn't sure how strong the flavor would end up being. I didn't want it to be over powering, so I only used two small green onions.
The curd was starting to stick together after it drained in the colander, so I broke it up with my hands. Then after I added salt, garlic and onions, I mixed it in by hand again. It just wouldn't work with a spoon.
The next step was to put it into the cheese press for several hours.
Finished. Remove and chill for 6 to 8 hours before slicing. Well, by now it was bedtime so we weren't able to try it until the next day. We jokingly said we may just have it for breakfast. But we didn't.
We did have some for lunch. It is a pretty cheese, and has a nice, subtle aroma of onion and garlic. It is a very mild tasting cheese, with a very subtle taste of herbs. I could have easily added twice as much garlic and onions and it wouldn't have been a strong flavor. I also think I pressed it a little too much because it is drier than I expected or than I would prefer. So, next time I won't press it as hard or as long. Another factor that can affect the moisture content of the curd is how high the temperature is, and how long you cook it. That is another adjustment I will make.
Other than that, it is a very nice, fresh cheese that doesn't take a lot of time. Frank thinks it will make great grilled cheese sandwiches. I am already thinking about the different herb combinations I will try with this recipe. I think it would make a good hot pepper cheese, too, which I like. Basil, parsley and oregano would also be a good combination. I think I will be experimenting with this type of cheese all summer. It will probably freeze well, too. Right now we have four kinds of cheese in the frig to eat up. We made mozzarella last week. I thawed out some Chevre, a soft cheese, and mixed in some salt, dehydrated onion, dill and parsley. We have been eating it with celery, carrots and crackers with our lunches. There is also some 10 month old cheddar that we made last July. It's getting pretty sharp, but it's very tasty. We are cheese happy and the frig is running over with milk. So what will we make next? I might just try some Colby, who knows? Learn something everyday. Learn from your successes. Learn from your failures. But don't just sit around. Try something and enjoy what you learn from it, one way or the other.
Until next time - Fern