The Beginner’s Guide to Making Chevre; making chevre is a great way to start your journey into cheese making. Chevre is a mild, creamy goat cheese, that our family loves to spread on crackers (especially with some Habanero Gold Jelly). Today I welcome Corina from Marblemount Homestead. She’s a cheese-making expert who will show you making chevre isn’t difficult at all!
I raise goats on our five acre homestead in the North Cascades wilderness, where I make many different kinds of hard cheeses like Gouda, Tomme, Cheddar and Manchego. I’ve taught hundreds of people how to make cheese, either on our homestead or online. Although hard cheese is not hard to make with the right directions and guidance, it might be best for a beginner to start out with soft cheese like Chevre.
Beginner’s Guide to Making Chevre
Chevre, a french style soft goat cheese, is one of the easiest cheeses to make. You can make it with cow milk, but then it’s not called chevre (meaning “goat” in French), but Farmer’s cheese.
Chevre is a creamy spreadable cheese that tastes wonderful with herbs and spices added to it. You can also use it for desserts paired with fruit, and it can be used like cream cheese, since it has the same consistency. My vanilla cheese cake made with Chevre is out of this world!
I will show you how to make this yummy cheese with either 5 quarts of milk (which will make about 2 pounds of Chevre), or 2 quarts of milk if you don’t want use as much milk. Before we get started, let me tell you some tips.
Although I make every other cheese raw, I pasteurize the milk for this cheese. It sits around at room temperature for a long time, so the risk of bacterial contamination increases and pasteurization makes it safe. Its shelf life is longer that way as well – you can keep it in the fridge for 2 weeks.
I pasteurize the milk at low temperature (145°F), which is better than high pasteurization temperatures. This lower temperature preserves beneficial enzymes and keeps the proteins in the milk intact. It’s the closest to a raw milk product you can get.
However, if you want to make this cheese raw, do it. Just keep in mind to keep everything very clean, and eat the cheese within three days.
Chevre freezes well, so when you make a batch, eat some right away fresh, and then freeze the rest in ½ pound packages. Make sure you freeze it unsalted without any herbs and spices added. Thaw it at room temperature, and then add seasoning.
For many years, I made Chevre with cheesecloth, but now I use special Chevre molds for draining the whey. Buying molds is more expensive than buying cheese cloth, but it’s worth it. I get more consistent results with the Chevre molds, whereas draining with cheesecloth can leave the cheese rubbery because it drains unevenly.
If you are in love with Chevre and feel like you will make it a lot, it’s worth buying Chevre molds. If you just want to try to make this cheese to see if you like it and you don’t want to invest in molds, use cheesecloth.
Making Chevre – What you will need.
(directions for 2 quarts milk in parenthesis)
- 5 quarts goat milk (or 2 quarts goat milk) – or use cow milk, but don’t call your cheese Chevre!
- ¼ tsp MM 100 culture (or 1/8 tsp MM 100 culture)
- 1/3 cup cool water (or ¼ cup cool water)
- 3 drops of rennet (or 1 drop)
- 1 tsp salt (or ½ tsp salt)
- stainless steel pot to fit the amount of milk
- 8 chevre cheese molds (or 4 chevre cheese molds) or muslin cheesecloth
- eye dropper
Making Chevre – Directions
- If you choose to pasteurize the milk, heat it to 145° F and keep it at that temperature for 30 minutes.
- Cool it down to 80° F. I put the pot of milk in the sink filled with cold water. If you are in a hurry, change the water frequently or add ice to the water bath.
- Sprinkle MM 100 culture over the milk and let it re-hydrate for two minutes, then stir it into the milk. Use ¼ tsp MM 100 culture with 5 quarts of milk, or use 1/8 tsp MM 100 culture with 2 quarts of milk.
- Add rennet: For 5 quarts of milk, add 3 drops of rennet (with a clean eyedropper or syringe) to 1/3 cup cool water. Take 2 Tablespoons of this diluted rennet mixture and stir it into the milk for 30 seconds.
For 2 quarts of milk, add one drop of rennet to ¼ cup cool water. Take 2 Tablespoons of this diluted rennet mixture and stir it into the milk for 30 seconds.
- Cover the pot and let it sit at room temperature for 8-12 hours. At the end of that time, a firm curd has formed (it looks like thickened yogurt), and you will see some clear whey on the top of the curd.
I often start this cheese in the morning, and then it’s ready to drain in the evening. Or I start it in the evening, and it will sit overnight, ready to be drained in the morning. Do whatever works for your schedule!
- Next, drain the curd.
If you use Chevre molds, carefully place curd into them with a ladle. Try to be as gentle as possible with this step. Fill the molds all the way to the top. When you get to the bottom of the pot, there will be a lot of whey. Drain this out into a bowl to save the whey for other uses, and make sure to catch every last bit of the curd to place into the Chevre molds.
If you use cheesecloth, make sure you use very fine cheesecloth, called butter muslin. Some people use a clean pillowcase cloth. Drape the cloth over a colander sitting on a bowl to catch the whey. Carefully pour the curds into the cloth. Be gentle here.
- Let the cheese drain for 8-12 hours. The longer it drains, the drier it will be. If you want your cheese moister, drain it for a shorter time.
- When you like the texture, put it into a bowl and add 1 tsp salt for every 2 pounds, or just add salt to taste. Mix it with fresh or dried herbs.
I like using garlic powder, or chopped up chives, or parsley and spread it on bread or crackers. I use Chevre in lasagne instead of ricotta cheese. Or use it in recipes asking for cream cheese. You can also add fruit to it and make it a dessert.
There you have it! Easy, right? Get comfortable making this cheese, and then venture out to make some harder cheese as well. It’s worth it!
Bio: Corina Sahlin homesteads on five acres in the wilderness, where she raises goats, pigs, ducks and chickens, and three homeschooled kiddos. She has made thousands of pounds of cheese and teaches people how to make artisan cheese on her homestead and in her fun online cheesemaking course. Her book “How to make Gouda Cheese” will be published very soon! She also teaches an online fermentation course and blogs about her homesteading and homeschooling life on her popular blog.