Incidentally, the making of stinky cheese is one of my top post-reporting-burnout fantasy careers. I also want to own goats, but goats whose poop is someone else’s responsibility, if we’re going to flesh this fantasy out. But for now I am a long way from Master Cheesemaker, and just two weeks ago embarked on my first long-term cheese project.
The occasion was a fermentation party for which, despite the main requirement of fermentation, I hadn’t planned ahead but had promised goat cheesecake. And then I got the flu and was unable to move, let alone think, let alone leave the house to get goat milk, let alone handle the complex deeds of sanitation and recipe-following. But by Friday afternoon I could summon the energy to surf the Internet.
Where I discovered a recipe from Fias Co Farm in Michigan that made it all sound perfectly doable — and a tip that a major hobbyist-cheesemakers’ supply shop, the Dairy Connection, is minutes from my house. And so I summoned a box of tissues and dragged myself there, and bought a cheesemaking manual, six chevre molds, liquid rennet, mesophilic culture and a My First Penicillium bacterial Chia pet, and some goat milk on the way home.
Making fresh goat cheese is easier than most mozzarella. You just heat your milk to 72 degrees, add culture and rennet, and wait 3/4 day. Then ladle the curds into a cheesecloth bag to drain for six hours. Voila. The tricky parts were sanitation, because there is no speck of my life that does not involve cat hair, and finding a way to hang the bag.
It made a rich tangy cheese and a smooth, not-at-all-goaty (I wish it had been more so) cheesecake. And I got some ricotta out of the whey.
But since I was breaking out the iodophor and goat milk, I might as well finally try making some aged cheese, I figured. Something not too tricky. I bought an extra half-gallon of milk for this experiment.
This one is supposed to end up roughly like Saint-Maure, covered in fuzz and creamy inside, in a couple of weeks.
Two days later, I unmolded the cheeses and set them on a draining mat in my little “cheese cave.” Someday, I tell you, I will own an actual cheese cave set into a hillside with grass growing over the top. For now, I have Tupperware.