It’s very easy to make this soft cheese; and it can be used in so many ways – it’s the one homemade cheese that I think anyone with dairy animals should know how to make. It can be used in any recipe that uses cream, farmer, or other soft cheese; and it freezes well so you can make cheese when milk is plentiful and preserve it for use when there’s no milk. It can be made with milk from your own dairy animals (if you use goat milk then it’s soft chevre cheese) or with whole cow milk from the store.
To make this cheese, you do need to obtain DVI (Direct Vat Inoculate) chevre culture and rennet, both of which can be obtained from cheesemaking supply sources like Hoegger Supply. The chevre culture from Hoeggers (click here) is $5.95 and will make up to 100 lbs. of cheese while the rennet (click here) is $7.95 for 2 ounces (and you use 3 drops per batch so it seems like it will last forever). The culture should be stored in the freezer and the rennet should be stored in the refrigerator to maintain their viability.
5 quarts whole milk
1/8 teaspoon DVI chevre culture
2 tablespoons diluted rennet (dilute 3 drops of liquid rennet in 1/3 cup cool water)
Warm the milk to 80°F in a non-reactive or stainless steel pot; then add the chevre culture and diluted rennet. Stir well, cover, and let sit undisturbed for 8 to 12 hours.
The cheese is ready to drain when it looks like thick yogurt (it may have a thin watery film on top). Pour the cheese into a cheesecloth lined colander (in a bowl or sink because the cheese will start draining immediately).
Tie the corners of the cheesecloth together to form a bag with the cheese in the bottom. Hang the cheese to drain for 7 – 8 hours.
The cheese is finished draining when it has the consistency of cream cheese.
If the cheese will be used immediately, it can be salted (approximately 1 teaspoon cheese salt per pound) or used plain; or it can be utilized as directed in any recipe calling for cream or soft cheese. If the cheese will be frozen, I prefer not to salt (leaves more options open) and like to freeze it in 1 lb. packages (2 cups = 1 lb.). Our pint freezer containers hold 2 cups (1 lb.) and stack neatly in the freezer.
When using goat milk from our Nigerian Dwarf goats, the 5 quarts of milk that we start with yields about 4 lbs. of delicious cream cheese! In the photo of the cheese on crackers, it’s being served with Hot Pepper Jelly.