If you want to make a very simple version of homemade goat cheese, this recipe using lemon juice and goat's milk is the one.
The acidity of the lemon juice thickens the milk and makes soft curds form. Once the liquid (whey) is drained away from the curds, you have a basic but tasty version of homemade goat cheese.
White vinegar also can be used to make homemade goat cheese, although the flavor of lemon is slightly more pleasing in the finished product.
For the best and most consistent results, a starter culture and rennet should be used to make homemade goat cheese. A starter culture can be bought online and so can cheesemaking kits that contain everything you need to make goat cheese.
After the cheese is made you can add herbs, spices, or garlic to enhance the flavor.
Before you begin, it's important to gather the tools you'll need like a nonreactive pot (stainless or ceramic) but not aluminum whose metal will leach into the milk. Make sure your stirring utensil also is nonreactive (wood or stainless).
- 1-quart goat's milk (pasteurized is fine, but don't use ultra-pasteurized)
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (no pulp or seeds)
- Salt to taste
- Slowly heat the milk in a stainless-steel or other nonreactive pot on the stove until it reaches 180 F to 185 F (use a thermometer). Gentle bubbles should be forming and the surface will look foamy. Turn off the heat.
- Using a long-handled stainless-steel or wooden spoon, stir in the lemon juice and let the milk sit for 10 minutes. The milk should curdle and become slightly thicker on the surface.
- Line a colander with two layers of damp cheesecloth. Gently pour the milk into the cheesecloth, then gather the cheesecloth up around the curds and tie it into a bundle. A rubber band or butcher's twine also is a good way to hold the cheesecloth together at the top.
- Hang the bundle over a pot or jar so the liquid can drip out. (You can do this by attaching the bundle to a wooden spoon or a ladle and setting the spoon over the top of the pot.)
- Let the cheese drain for at least 1 1/2 hours. Untie the bundle and transfer the cheese to a bowl. Stir in salt and/or other ingredients to taste.
- Use your hands to pat and shape the cheese into a small wheel or log. You also can use a cookie cutter as a mold to shape the cheese.
- The flavor and texture of the cheese usually improve a little bit if you refrigerate it for a few hours before serving.
- The goat cheese should stay fresh in the refrigerator for one week.