How to Make Goat Cheese (Chèvre) at Home


how to make homemade goat cheese

No goats were harmed in the making of this cheese. Really.

Before my recent visit to Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign, Illinois, I was merely a goat cheese enthusiast. After a couple of hours of frolicking in an open field with the goats, I decided to become a maker of goat cheese.

The problem was that I had never made “real cheese” in my life. Fortunately, the method for making fresh goat cheese, chèvre style, is quite amateur-friendly. In light of this, the oft-touted rennet-free, culture-free quick method (boiling the milk, causing it to curdle with something acidic such as lime/lemon juice or vinegar, and draining out the whey) doesn’t seem a worthwhile effort. Undoubtedly, it is an easy method which yields fresh and tasty cheese curds from goat’s milk. But that is a far, far cry from the cultured fresh chèvre that we know and love. [In fact, I would go as far as saying that if you want to go the easy route, you'd probably get better-tasting goat cheese out of straining cultured goat's milk yogurt overnight than you would from simply boiling and curdling fresh goat's milk. But that's just me.]

Anyway, here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make real homemade goat cheese.

Printable Instructions

INGREDIENTS:
* If you have access to unpasteurized goat’s milk in your area, by all means get the milk fresh from the farm. This list of places in the United States, as well as a few other countries, where you can find unpasteurized cow and goat’s milk is a good start.

* However, if you don’t have access to farm-fresh milk, your best bet is pasteurized goat’s milk which can be found in some mainstream grocery stores and most health/specialty food stores. Be sure to get whole goat’s milk as it coagulates better and gives you a larger amount of cheese which is also more flavorful.

* I use pasteurized whole goat’s milk, the one that has on the carton an image of a smiling adult goat, wearing a top that resembles what my favorite third grade teacher liked to wear, drinking what appears to be its own milk. There’s no particular reason why I use that brand other than that it’s the only brand that’s available around here.

* You need rennet. There are both animal-derived and vegetable rennets. I went with veal rennet as I’ve been told that animal rennet produces better coagulation. Veal rennet comes in a small plastic drop bottle. (You need only a little itty bitty drop for a gallon-size batch.)

* You need the right cheese culture. Visit your choice of cheese-making supply source (see some suggestions at the bottom of the page) and see what kind of enzyme they recommend for chèvre. I use the combination that contains both (LL) Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis and (LLC) Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris which is great for semi-soft and fresh cheeses including chèvre. The culture comes in freeze-dried form which needs to be refrigerated. It’s not expensive and, like rennet, you need only a little bit of it for each batch.

* You need salt. From what I’ve read from various places, people seem to like iodine-free salt. I use my favorite sea salt.

how to make homemade goat cheese
TOOLS:
* A large stainless steel potthat can hold a gallon of milk. I use my large enamel-on-steel Le Creuset stockpot which works great.

* A piece of good muslin cloth for cheese-making. Regular cheesecloth has holes that are too large for, and won’t be able to hold, the curds. I made my first batch using 5 layers of regular cheesecloth which worked fine. But I’ve learned since then that it’s more economical and less ridiculous to invest in one good piece of reusable muslin cloth.

how to make goat cheese

* A good kitchen thermometer. I use a digital one that looks like a long, slender nail.

* You can also use a cheese mold which comes with holes and works somewhat like a cœur à la crème mold. This is not utterly important, at least in the beginning.

* You need either a pH tester or a box of pH test strips. I bought the latter which serves the purpose at hand quite adequately. I have a feeling, though, that if I ever progress beyond the amateur stage, the pH test strips won’t be sufficient any longer. Once I get into molded cheeses, precision will be even more important and a pH tester will be necessary.

METHOD OF PREPARATION:

*I start out with one gallon of whole goat’s milk, and pretty much follow the instructions on how to make fresh goat cheese chèvre style on Prairie Fruits Farm website.

* If you use store-bought goat’s milk, the milk is already pasteurized. “You don’t want to ever ‘boil’ milk to make cheese,” says Leslie Cooperband of Prairie Fruits Farm who was coaching me in the beginning. All you need to do is bring the milk to room temperature (70°-72°F).

* You add to it the rennet and the culture in the amounts specified in the vendor’s instructions.

* Let the milk incubate at room temperature for 20 hours.

* After 20 hours, you will see that the milk has coagulated and the curd has separated from the whey.

how to make goat cheese
* Test for acidity level of the whey by scooping off some of the clear liquid and, with your pH tool of choice, make sure we have the level of acidity in the 4.5-4.7 range. That means your cheese is ready to be pressed. If the whey is not acidic enough, let the milk incubate a couple of more hours, then check again.

how to make goat cheese
* Pour the entire pot through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Carefully gather the corners of the cloth and tie them together to form a bag. Let it drip overnight at room temperature. The best way to do this is to tie the bag to your sink faucet and just let the liquid drip into the sink overnight.

* Once that’s done, you’ll end up with about 16-20 ounces of soft fresh goat cheese ready to be used. The consistency of fresh chèvre at this stage is creamy and smooth like cream cheese or mascarpone, although the taste makes it clear that it’s fresh goat cheese.

* This is when you mix in the salt (1/2 teaspoon of sea salt works for me) and whatever flavoring agents that you desire: cracked peppercorns, fresh herbs, honey, citrus zest, etc.

how to make homemade goat cheese

Fresh goat cheese has drier consistency after having been refrigerated 6 days.

* If you have leftover fresh chèvre, keep it wrapped in a piece of cheesecloth (regular one will do at this point) and refrigerated for up to 10 days. The longer you keep it refrigerated, the drier and the tangier the cheese becomes. I like the taste and texture of my chèvre at 4-5 days after the day it’s made. But this is up to each individual.

Places where you can get the supplies:
Dairy Connection, Inc
New England Cheese-making Supply Company

43 Responses to How to Make Goat Cheese (Chèvre) at Home

  1. Rick May 31, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

    Sounds interesting, really want to see how your goat cheddar turns out. Utterly important really should have been Udderly important….

  2. Sassy Critic June 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    I’m inspired to make some. And yes, I’m udderly excited to hear about the goat chedder. How about goat brie for round 3?

  3. Leela June 1, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    Sassy Critic – Goat Brie sounds udderly good … Suggestion noted. :)

  4. Susie June 2, 2010 at 1:51 am #

    Thrilled to find your post. I tried to make goat’s milk ricotta with the boil, acid, strain method and failed miserably. So happy to see the resources too, I think I can do this! Thanks….

  5. Leela June 2, 2010 at 1:55 am #

    Susie – Yes, you can. I never thought I could. And now look at me; I’m planning goat cheddar and goat brie! So confident I’m getting reckless now.

  6. Arwen from Hoglet K June 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    Great job Leela, and I love the picture of the goat drinking her own milk! I have been tempted by mail order rennet, but the cutting for hard cheeses sounds hard. This recipe sounds more approachable, and I like the way the pH lets you know whether the timing is right. Chevre is divine, so it would be great to produce your own.

  7. Kristen June 2, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Thanks for doing all the ground work for us, actually sounds doable now. I cannot wait to try it!

  8. Angry Asian June 3, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    so. i’m a little freaked out about this. i’m not yet completely sold on this, not because your instructions aren’t clear etc, but i just don’t know if i could pull something like this off.

    i guess the first step would be is to find goat milk…

  9. OysterCulture June 8, 2010 at 12:27 am #

    Love the new look of the blog!

    I love goat cheese, but am spoiled by the options in my area so until now I’ve not been strongly incentivized to make my own. That just changed. I envision myself offering this cheese to my adoring husband and friends, saying “Yup, I made this…”

  10. Anonymous August 23, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    I’m so glad to have this information. I’ve been looking for a recipe to replicate the mizithra cheese that I have in Crete during the summer.

    Thank you!

  11. Leela August 23, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    Anon – You’re welcome. I’d love to make myzithra as well, but it seems a bit more complicated. The process involved drying and aging, no? I love that cheese, though. So good.

  12. Anonymous April 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Thanks for this! How much milk did you start out with?

  13. Leela April 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    Anon – Ha. I just realized that other than specifying a container big enough to hold one gallon of milk, I never explicitly said how much milk I started out with. So I added “one gallon of whole goat milk” to the instructions.

    Thank you so much.

  14. email_me_then April 19, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    would this recipe work with cows milk or would i need to use a defferent culture?

  15. Leela April 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    email – Yes, it would. In fact, I have tried that once. The end result has almost the same characteristic without the goat-y flavor, if that makes any sense.

  16. yanqui mike April 29, 2011 at 5:59 am #

    How´s the chèvre this year? Give us some updates! I just sourced some lovely fresh raw goats milk …and I´m hungry to know more before I begin to make some for my friends and family.

    besos,
    Yanqui Mike
    Buenos Aires

  17. Leela April 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Mike – Sorry, I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking for. Do you need more information in addition to what’s explained in the post?

  18. ron November 12, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    is there a reason specific to the process that you choose to use pasteurized goat’s milk versus unpasteurized?

  19. Admin November 12, 2011 at 1:58 am #

    ron – No reason at all other than that I can’t find unpasteurized milk around here. I would prefer that to pasteurized.

  20. printchef January 25, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    Do you cover the milk during incubation? Do you get better results from a consistent ambient temp?

    Love your site. Keep up the good work.

    Dusty

  21. Admin February 2, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    printchef – Thanks.

    Yes, I do cover the milk during incubation. Not sure about whether a consistent ambient temperature yields better results or not as I’ve never tried. Would you like to try that and let us know?

  22. Larry j May 29, 2012 at 6:08 am #

    I tried the 180 degree way and it failed…this seems the way to go.

  23. Admin May 29, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    Larry j – That method gives you fresh farmer’s cheese that is made of goat’s milk but not cultured goat cheese. Heat and acidity only help to curdle the milk, but not culture it. So, yes, if you want what we generally refer to as “goat cheese,” this is the way to go.

  24. Anonymous August 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    do you think one might be able to speed up the draining process by spinning the muslin-wrapped curds in a salad spinner? (like a wimpy version of an industrial centrifuge?)

  25. Admin August 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    Anon – Intriguing. But I think you might get better results from weighing the wrapped curds down with a brick or something heavy — kind of like how they press tofu.

    Then again, it’s not just a matter of draining out the liquid, though. While the curds are taking their sweet time draining, they’re also aging too. And that’s what makes for better goat cheese. That you don’t want to rush.

  26. Anonymous August 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    what about vegetarian rennet? Can it be got and does it work?

  27. Admin August 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Anon – I’ve never tried. But I suppose it will work just as well. The milk may take longer to curdle and the curds may be smaller. But I’m just guessing. Vegetable rennet is available at several sources online.

    • Joy December 11, 2012 at 7:55 am #

      Vegetable rennet works just fine. Frankly, I don’t see much different in vegetable rennet and animal rennet. Most vegetable rennet is double strength, and I’ve always had to cut way back on rennet amounts.

  28. Jo-Anne November 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    Hi!! I love your how-to and am ready to try this! I have pasturized goats milk (raw is illegal in Canada!) but the only starters I have is purchased natural plain yogurt and a couple packets of Yogotherm yogurt starter (powdered – 10g each). Do you think I can use this (either) as a starter? I have no access to buying specific cheese starters and don’t do online shopping, so I am limited to what I can find out here. I look forward to your answer! Thanks! :)

    • Leela November 16, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

      You can. What you would get in the end, though, is yogurt cheese (goat yogurt cheese, in this case). This will not be any different than if you were to buy a tub of yogurt and strain out the whey for a few days in the fridge. This is not to say that it won’t work or that it won’t be delicious, but this won’t produce chèvre. To make chèvre, you need both rennet and a specific strain of culture.

  29. Bongo264 December 26, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Just made this using your instructions as guidance. I used 1 gallon of pasteurized whole goats milk I picked up at local health food market. brought the temp of the milk up to about 80F in a large stainless steel pot added mesophilic starter I picked up at a local brew store (they only had one kind). And let it go for about an hour to let it bloom a bit. Then I mixed in half a dissolved tablet of Junket Rennet…… About 20 hours later (house was at around 68-70F) I had a very nice clean break. I used a slotted spoon to scoop all of the biggest curds then used a strainer for the smaller stuff it went into some butter muslin for about 17 hours. I was left with almost two pounds of the stuff about the consistency of cream cheese.

    Took the final product to GF’s parents house and between like 8 ppl over the day it was devoured! Big hit! This was my first cheese ever and I will be doing it again.

    Also working on a cheese press to do even more things in future.

  30. Elaine June 4, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    That particular goat’s milk only comes in ultra-pastuerized here in VA, which won’t work for cheese (or any other cultured product) so be sure to check the label. I have to buy that particular brand’s dried goat milk online and use that reconstituted to make cheese and yogurt.

  31. Susan Churchill June 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    The goat rancher who makes goat cheese all the time (been raising goats for milk and show for 37 years) suggested fresh lemon juice (1 cup to a gallon of goat milk) to create the curds. I am at that stage this very minute, in fact. Milk is sitting in stainless steel pan and curdling. Looks like I’m getting small curds on the surface of the milk. Is it ok to stir the stuff at this point to see what’s going on in the bottom of the pan or is stirring not a good thing?

    • Leela June 6, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

      Susan – Sorry, no experience with creating curds for cultured goat cheese without rennet. Anyone want to help Susan?

  32. Anna June 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    This looks amazing! I only have one question :/ Do you have to dilute the rennet with bottled water before you add it?

    • Leela June 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      Anna – Nope.

    • BenjaminF January 14, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

      Chlorine in tap water will will have an adverse effect on the cheese making process but as long as you use chlorine free water such as bottled, filtered, spring etc. you should be fine.

  33. BenjaminF January 14, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    You only need to be concerned with chlorine in the water which is typically found in tap water. Bottled, filtered or spring water are all good.

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