A self-sufficient lunch: Simple Goats’ Cheese
Last year, while still in Ireland, the Boyfriend and I attended a cheese-making weekend workshop at Rossinver Organic Farm in County Leitrim. My knowledge of cheese-making had previously been limited to a school outing during primary school. A schoolmate’s father, Glenroe’s Matt O’Brien, used to make a wonderful farmhouse cheddar called Glenosheen in the eighties. Sadly, Glenosheen Cheddar no longer exists but that was my first taste of a real cheese and, even to a pre-teen palate, it was quality stuff. I was no less fascinated by the workings of Matt’s little cheese factory and, years later, all I had observed there made sense when I attended the cheese-making course at Rossinver.
Over the course of a fascinating and activity-packed weekend, Hans and Gaby Wieland taught us how to make a hard pressed gouda as well as yoghurt and a soft cheese, which we rolled into little balls and stored in olive oil (there are some pictures of the class in action here). Rossinver Organic Farm is a beautiful setting, we were fed delicious organic food at morning tea and lunchtime and the weekend was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Despite the very best of intentions, my cheese-making exploits since then have been non-existent – I managed to leave my unused rennet, cheesecloth and thermometers in Ireland, of course – but when I came across a simple soft goats cheese recipe in the Zest section of The Press recently I was determined to try it out.
Wandering down to Piko, I had no problem getting my hands on a litre of goat’s milk. There were several choices but, in the interests of Buying Local, I bought the one produced in Canterbury. A few minutes on the cooker with the yoghurt and it had curdled enough to strain. I poured it into a cheesecloth-lined sieve, left it to drain and then salted it. The first time I made this cheese I got distracted during the heating process. As a result, the end product was more crumbly-textured than I would have hoped but a little natural yoghurt stirred through turned it into a more desirable spreadable consistency.
It was a gloriously warm spring day as we sat at the kitchen table with the French doors open to the warm breeze, eating my fresh-made goat’s cheese on some homemade Brown Bread and focaccia (I’m getting creative with the Breadmaker!), accompanied with some freshly picked salad greens from our tiny vegetable garden. I’ve made it several times since then and I’m starting to think that maybe it’s time to dig out the notes I took in Rossinver and start trying to make proper cheese.
Simple Goats’ Cheese
Goat’s milk – 1 litre
Plain natural yoghurt – 120mls
Put the goat’s milk into a saucepan and mix the yoghurt through. Place over a low heat and warm until the mixture separates. Pour into a cheesecloth lined sieve and drain. Mix with sea salt to taste.
There’s a woman in Tirau running cheesemaking courses. Did you read Delish’s blog on her cheesemaking exploits recently.
Ooh, I’d never thought of making my own fresh goat’s cheese! I love it and it’s so expensive here. That sounds great! How long does it drain for?
Barbara: I haven’t come across that blog – what’s the link? To be honest, I don’t know if I can really call this cheesemaking! It’s so simple that it is more like making yoghurt cheese or labana (something that I plan to try making next week) but it is a lot of fun.Plum: I have to warn you that it doesn’t taste as pungent as goat’s cheese that you buy. I’m normally working on the computer when it drains, keeping an eye every so often, but it doesn’t take long, a couple of hours at the most.
Delish is on my sidebar under South Pacific Blogs. She is in Wellington.
Wow! Thanks for that Barbara. There are some great looking cheeses on Delish – and also instructions on how to make ricotta with the whey that runs off from the goat’s cheese. I haven’t known what to do with it before this and hate just getting rid of it although I’ve also read that it’s good used in breadmaking. I’ve got a couple of weeks before I head back to Ireland to experiment!
Just reading the latest Foodlovers newsletter and there’s a piece about NZ-made cheese and cheesemaking courses here and a link to a fabulous New Zealand cheese website called Home Dairy. I wish I’d known about these many resources for cheesemaking a bit earlier. I’m heading back to Ireland in a couple of weeks and my time for cooking, never mind cheesemaking, is going to be fairly limited when I get back to having a real job!