When you hear about making your own cheese, do you picture a dairy farm stocked with special equipment and ingredients? Believe it or not, you can make homemade cheese with just three ingredients and a few specific supplies you can easily find. This very simple version of homemade goat cheese using lemon juice and goat's milk is the perfect recipe to try, especially if you are new to cheese making. You will not only impress your family and friends but also create something you can really be proud of!
How can cheese be made with just these simple ingredients, you wonder? The acidity of the lemon juice thickens the goat milk and makes soft curds form. Once the liquid (whey) is drained away from the curds, you have a basic but tasty version of homemade goat cheese.
Before you begin, it's important to gather the tools you'll need like a nonreactive pot—stainless or ceramic is good, but don't use aluminum or metal will leach into the milk. Make sure your stirring utensil also is nonreactive, like wood or stainless. You will also need a few pieces of cheesecloth.
- 1 quart goat's milk (pasteurized is fine, but don't use ultra-pasteurized)
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (no pulp or seeds)
- Salt to taste
- Slowly heat the milk in a stainless-steel or other nonreactive pot on the stove until it reaches 180 F to 185 F (use a thermometer). Gentle bubbles should be forming and the surface will look foamy. Turn off the heat.
- Using a long-handled stainless steel or wooden spoon, stir in the lemon juice and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. The milk should curdle and become slightly thicker on the surface.
- Line a colander with two layers of damp cheesecloth. Gently pour the milk into the cheesecloth, then gather the cheesecloth up around the curds and tie it into a bundle. A rubber band or butcher's twine also is a good way to hold the cheesecloth together at the top.
- Hang the bundle over a pot or jar so the liquid can drip out. (You can do this by attaching the bundle to a wooden spoon or a ladle and setting the spoon over the top of the pot.)
- Let the cheese drain for at least 1 1/2 hours. Untie the bundle and transfer the cheese to a bowl. Stir in salt to taste.
- Use your hands to pat and shape the cheese into a small wheel or log. You also can use a cookie cutter as a mold to shape the cheese.
- The flavor and texture of the cheese usually improve a little bit if you refrigerate it for a few hours before serving.
- The goat cheese should stay fresh in the refrigerator for one week.
Tips and Variations
This is an easy and fun way to make cheese, but if you plan on doing it often and would like to have more consistent results and the best outcome, use a starter culture and rennet to make the cheese. A starter culture can be bought online, as can cheesemaking kits that contain everything you need to make goat cheese.
If you don't have lemons on hand, white vinegar also can be used to make homemade goat cheese. Just keep in mind that the flavor of lemon is slightly more pleasing in the finished product.
A plain goat cheese is certainly delicious, but this recipe is also the perfect base for adding a variety of flavors.
When you add the salt, you can also add fresh herbs, spices, or garlic to enhance the taste. Goat cheese with chives is a great combination, as is garlic and thyme. Stir in a drizzle of honey, a handful of nuts, or even dried cranberries with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Once shaped into a log or disc, you can also coat the outside of the cheese with chopped fresh herbs or chopped toasted nuts.
|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Total Fat||4 g|
|Saturated Fat||2 g|
|Unsaturated Fat||1 g|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g|