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We have a thread about where to buy cheese, but not one about making fresh cheese at home and/or what y'all make with cheese other than a cheese plate.

Many of you know that I have been making fresh chevre at home for a while now, using goat milk I get at Whole Foods or the Takoma Park Co-op. I use a starter/culture that I get from The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company (www.cheesemaking.com). It's very simple, and takes about 18 hours from milk to finished cheese.

1/2 gallon of goat milk (not ultra-pasteurized)

1/2 pkg. of starter culture

Heat the milk to 86 degrees. Turn off heat, add culture and stir briefly. Cover and let sit at room temp for 12 hours. Line a strainer with a dampened muslin towel. Set it into a deep bowl. Ladle curd into towel-lined strainer. Tie towel into a bag --I use a sturdy rubber band --and hang it from a pot hook over the bowl (I put the hook through a cabinet pull). Allow curd to drain for 6 hours. Scrape drained curd into a bowl. Add sea salt to taste. (I also mix it with fennel pollen and lavender flowers). Other herbs de Provence or black pepper are alternative additions.

I recently got a recipe for ricotta, which takes about a half hour (yes!) from milk to finished cheese. I've made it twice now. It's really fresh and good! And very simple.

Line colander with damp muslin towel or triple layer of cheesecloth. Rest colander over a deep bowl.

1 qt. whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. coarse or kosher salt

2 Tbsp. white vinegar

Heat milk, cream and salt until bubbles appear all over the surface. Turn off heat. Pour in vinegar. Let sit for one minute. Slowly stir for one minute. You'll see small, fine curds forming. Pour into prepared colander. Pour off initial whey and replace the colander on the bowl. Allow to drain for 15 or twenty minutes. I used a damp muslin towel and hung it to drain, like I do with chevre, but the recipe I got recommended triple layered cheesecloth and no hanging. Traditionally, ricotta is made with the whey from mozzarella, with added milk.Theoretically, it could be made with part skim milk, but I haven't tried that.

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I have recently started experimenting with cheese making, also with help from the The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company and milk from the Takoma Park Co-op. I recently tried my hand at mozzarella, ricotta, and cream cheese, with varying degrees of success ;)

I blogged about it if you wanna read more (link in my signature line.)

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I recently got a recipe for ricotta, which takes about a half hour (yes!) from milk to finished cheese. I've made it twice now. It's really fresh and good! And very simple.

I did that from a similar recipe several years ago and was surprised at how well it worked. I forget where I got the idea but have the vague notion it had something to do with an artisanal cheesemaker who was part of a cheese class at Galileo/Laboratorio.

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I'm making chevre with raw goat's milk purchased from the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market yesterday. I'm using this recipewhich calls for rennet, goat's milk and buttermilk. It says to cover and rest overnight (which I assume is 6-8 hours or so) after heating to 180 degrees. It does not say to store in the fridge, which worries me, especially with the raw milk.

Thoughts? My sense is that I'm going to store it in the fridge unless anyone tells me it would ruin it.

And, why so long before I skim the curds?

I plan to compound it with fresh dill (from Iovine's) and would love to hear suggestions how to utilize it, besides on a cracker or baguette.

Thanks!

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I'm making chevre with raw goat's milk purchased from the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market yesterday. I'm using this recipewhich calls for rennet, goat's milk and buttermilk. It says to cover and rest overnight (which I assume is 6-8 hours or so) after heating to 180 degrees. It does not say to store in the fridge, which worries me, especially with the raw milk.

Thoughts? My sense is that I'm going to store it in the fridge unless anyone tells me it would ruin it.

And, why so long before I skim the curds?

If you you store it in the fridge the rennet might work and give you goat milk ricotta, but it won't be chevre. Fresh ricotta is an uncultured cheese, so that you can drain the curd as soon as the milk is clabbered. Ricotta is sweet and lacks the slightly acidic tang that is characteristic of chevre, which is a cultured cheese. I get little packets for making chevre from New England Cheesemaking Co. that contain powdered culture and rennet. I mix it with 86f. goat milk and let it sit overnight on the stovetop in a covered pot. After 12 hours I hang up the curd in a muslin towel to drain for 6 hours.

What your recipe is doing is using buttermilk as the source of the culturing bacteria. One could also use yogurt, I suppose. What I like about the powder, is that is a culture specific to chevre, used by commercial chevre producers, and I get a predictable, consistent result each batch.

The "good" bacteria in the culture prevent the formation of spoilage for the 18 hours that it takes to make chevre. Listeriosis is still a remote possibility with raw milk, however, and I'm not sure that the culture in buttermilk would overcome that bacterium.

On the other hand, heating to180 degrees is essentially pasteurizing the milk. You don't need to heat the milk that hot to make chevre, and if you heat the buttermilk that high the culture in the buttermilk will probably be killed. The acid in the buttermilk will help to clabber the curd, but you've got rennet to do that.

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The "good" bacteria in the culture prevent the formation of spoilage for the 18 hours that it takes to make chevre. Listeriosis is still a remote possibility with raw milk, however, and I'm not sure that the culture in buttermilk would overcome that bacterium.

On the other hand, heating to180 degrees is essentially pasteurizing the milk.

Pasteurization is a function of time, temperature, pH and salinity. Typical High Temperature Short Time (HTST) pasteurization for cow's milk is a minimum of 161 degrees F for at least 15 seconds. I don't know if this same process control equation applies to goat's milk. If you are concerned about Listeria risk (i.e. you have young children, elderly or pregnant women in your home) I would be really careful with the raw milk. Listeria is very heat insensitive. So even if you are techically pasteurizing the goat milk for the cheese, if it is contaminated with Listeria, E.Coli, etc it could still cause food borne illness via cross contamination. You should never count on other cultures in a food overcoming pathogenic micro-organisms.

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Pasteurization is a function of time, temperature, pH and salinity. Typical High Temperature Short Time (HTST) pasteurization for cow's milk is a minimum of 161 degrees F for at least 15 seconds. I don't know if this same process control equation applies to goat's milk. If you are concerned about Listeria risk (i.e. you have young children, elderly or pregnant women in your home) I would be really careful with the raw milk. Listeria is very heat insensitive. So even if you are techically pasteurizing the goat milk for the cheese, if it is contaminated with Listeria, E.Coli, etc it could still cause food borne illness via cross contamination. You should never count on other cultures in a food overcoming pathogenic micro-organisms.

I absolutely love this response! Need accurate advice? You'll get it here. This forum rocks!

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I absolutely love this response! Need accurate advice? You'll get it here. This forum rocks!

I agree! Thank you both. I'm now a bit leery about eating my chevre from raw milk, although it did go into the fridge after cooling down for a few minutes. Hmm...

At any rate, I'm going to order the chevre kit from New England Cheesemaking. I have their starter kit for mozzarella and ricotta, with better results with the latter vs. the former.

On another note, I'm also looking to buy fennel pollen and lavendar (inspired by Zora) and came across Pollen Ranch. The have other mixes, including a 4 and 6 spice variety pack.

Has anyone tried these?

Pollen Ranch

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I find myself with an overabundance of relatively dry, fresh ricotta, and about a gallon of whey.

How long will the ricotta last in the fridge? My understanding is the whey will last indefinitely.

What can I do with the ricotta? I'm looking for something beyond making lasagna or ziti. Will it freeze well?

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What can I do with the ricotta? I'm looking for something beyond making lasagna or ziti. Will it freeze well?

What about ricotta cheesecake? I haven't tried freezing it, so I can't help you there. I've also discovered that ricotta makes a nice addition to the stuffing for deviled eggs, but that wouldn't use very much.

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What can I do with the ricotta? I'm looking for something beyond making lasagna or ziti. Will it freeze well?

mix with frozen chopped spinach (about 10-15 ounces), 1 large white or yellow onion roughly chopped and sauteed until translucent, 1/2 cup loosely packed grated jack cheese,1 can of black beans rinsed and drained, and a couple of tablespoons of a taco spice mix. Use as a filling for enchiladas using a red or a green sauce.

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What can I do with the ricotta? I'm looking for something beyond making lasagna or ziti. Will it freeze well?

Make gnocchi--I highly recommend Judy Rodgers' recipe and think you'd like her cookbook, but you don't need it since google fetches this video!

I've always loved apple-ricotta pancakes, too. Mark Bittman? Moosewood--you might find recipes for cottage-cheese pancakes. Sub.

The ricotta gnocchi freeze well, though are spectacular fresh, just quite good thawed and cooked from frozen. (Read through chef's instructions. Long but valuable.)

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I find myself with an overabundance of relatively dry, fresh ricotta, and about a gallon of whey.

How long will the ricotta last in the fridge? My understanding is the whey will last indefinitely.

What can I do with the ricotta? I'm looking for something beyond making lasagna or ziti. Will it freeze well?

Good suggestions above. How about Torta di Ricotta? You can do a sweet or savory version.

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