Despite the fact that I have just one lactating goat, my fridge was full to bursting with milk. I have been freezing it – useful for when the lambs arrive. We always get at least one that needs hand rearing. The dogs have been enjoying bowls of the white stuff, I’ve had Horlicks every evening and I use it instead of water when baking bread.
I had jars of yoghurt in the fridge and no reason to make more so I considered making butter. After reading up on it, I decided that for butter I really needed a cream separator. They are not cheap and I’m not sure it would be worth the investment.
So we were left with cheese. I’ve already made tubs full of soft cheese and they were squashed up against my other milk products in the fridge so I dug out my Cheesemaking and Dairying by Katie Thear and decided to experiment with other cheeses. When I first bought this book I had no experience of cheesemaking, so it went straight over my head. Too many instructions to read and I’m a bit of a dabbler.
However, this time it all made sense so I started with a traditional Scottish cheese known as Crowdie. Not very different to my soft cheeses but it did have a creamier, lighter texture.
What I was really keen to have a go at was a hard cheese but for that I needed moulds and a press. For a mould we used an old cooking pot with holes drilled in the bottom and Himself disappeared into his workshop to create me a press.
In the middle of it, there was an unfortunate incident with a power tool and we had to spend the afternoon at A&E. However he came through and our press was born from bits of rough timber and an old stairgate. It really was made of blood, sweat and tears.
I used 5 litres of goat’s milk to make my cheese known as Dunlop, again a traditional Scottish cheese. We put the wobbly curds in the press and it worked. We ended up with a compact round cheese that actually looked more like Brie than the Cheddar it was imitating. That will now be left to mature and ripen for a couple of months but we do need a cheese cupboard for it to sit in so it won’t be got at by insects or vermin. That will be the next project for Himself, hopefully without injury.
When making cheese there is an awful lot of leftover whey and since I hate throwing anything out I looked for a use for it. There in my book was the answer, I found Ricotta. From the 3 litres of whey and a litre of milk, I managed to produce only 230g of Ricotta cheese. However, it was more than worth it when today I used it to make quick gnocchi (recipe below) for our lunch. The fluffy pillows of cheese and flour were delicious and light and coated in a basic homemade tomato sauce, absolutely delicious.
I’ve used up all the milk now but can’t wait until I have enough to start all over again.
- 250g Ricotta cheese
- 30g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 60g flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Put the cheeses, egg yolk and salt into a bowl and mix well.
- Gradually add the flour until a soft dough is formed.
- Flour a board and in smallish batches using your hands roll the dough into thin-ish sausage-like shapes.
- Cut into half inch pieces and drop a few at a time into boiling salted water. When they rise to the top they are done. You may have to give the saucepan a little shake to loosen them from the bottom.
- Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drain, then add to any sauce you fancy.