I am awash in milk. I suppose somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that goats were capable of producing a lot of milk, but it didn’t really hit me until I looked at several days’ worth of milk in the fridge and realized Dulcinea was giving me nearly a gallon of milk a day. That’s a lot when you think that your average dairy goat is about the size of a Springer Spaniel. This milkmaid had better get her apron on and learn to use goat milk for worthy causes.
Three days’ worth of milk
I ordered cheesemaking starter cultures from Ricki Carrol’s New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. www.cheesemaking.com. This is a great site to look at even if you have no plans on making cheese. If you’re interested in how cheese is made, watch the videos on Carrol’s web site, which is really cute and fun. It is really amazing what good bacteria can do for us. I also ordered a yogotherm, which is a giant thermos for making soft cheeses, kefir and yogurt, some cheese molds. While I waited for the goods to get here I read Ricki Carrol’s book Home Cheese Making, which is considered to be the bible of home cheesemaking. I’ve made mozzarella before, but never anything with goat milk. So when the stuff finally arrived I tackled Fromage Blanc first. Fromage Blanc is a fresh cheese that can be easily made in 12 to 24 hours in the yogotherm. Once you strain the whey off, the final product looks and tastes a bit like cream cheese. You can flavor it savory or sweet. Use it for dips, spreads, pasta toppings or desserts. You can put it in omelets or gratins or cheesecakes. Best of all you use it to make this lovely French dessert called Coeur a La Creme, which is drained in a heart-shaped mold (I bought one of the molds online in anticipation of making this). I made honey and orange zest fromage blanc to put on pancakes.
Here is my Orange and Honey Fromage Blanc
I have since made a mother culture for chevre goat cheese. No time yet to make it (thankfully goat milk freezes well for cheesemaking) but hope to this week.
The other thing I made was a Mexican caramel sauce called cajeta. Cajeta is to Mexico what Nutella is to the French. It’s goat milk, sugar, a little bit of corn starch and baking soda. You dump it all in a big pot and stir over heat for about…oh, say, three hours. Yeah, it took a long time. Pull up a stool and sit by the stove, kind of a deal. The water evaporates and the milk solids cook down to caramalize. The result is the very tasty cajeta. You can pour it over ice cream or waffles, stir it into coffee, or just eat it out of the jar with spoon (highly recommend this last method). I processed the jars in my canning kettle because one gallon of milk made a lot!
I also made butter, which felt a lot like alchemy. I skimmed off the cream from the milk, let it “ripen” on the counter for a few hours, and then shook it for about ten minutes in a plastic storage bowl. It’s really fun because it sloshes first, then goes silent (when the cream is whipped) and then you hear the water sloshing again as the buttermilk separates from the fat, then a plopping noise as the butter comes together. After that happens you pour off the buttermilk (yum!) and then rinse the fat with ice water and press it with a spoon. You do this stage again and again and again until you have a lump of butter left. You mix in some cheese salt and form it into balls or whatever you like. I felt like a real magician after I made this batch of butter:
This is the last stage after I pushed out all the buttermilk
The finished product!
I have also made two kinds of goat milk ice cream: strawberry honey, and wild bramble berry and fromage blanc. I forgot to take a picture.
It never ceases to amaze me that I can make food for myself and my family by taking care of my animals and my crops. Cheesemaking seemed like an impossible thing to do but Ricki Carrol has this quote hanging at her cheesemaking school. It’s from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (Ha! Didn’t think I’d get a literary reference in here, did you?):
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”