A few years ago my Mum sent me some wild garlic bulbs from her garden in the English Riviera and I planted them in my polytunnel, not sure if they would survive outside in a Scottish winter. They have done really well, reappear annually and are taking over the end of the tunnel. Not only are the plants pleasing to look at, they are also very tasty and versatile. In addition to the bulbs, both the leaves and the pretty flowers can be eaten and they are great in salads.
Last year I made wild garlic pesto, this year I’m branching out a bit and I’ve made wild garlic and goat’s cheese scones which we devoured with my own chilli jam. I’ve used them in an omelette, bread and best of all, when I made new a batch of goat’s cheese I chopped some of the wild garlic leaves and added to the cheese before pressing.
Resembling that well-known soft cheese Boursin, the aroma was wonderful when I unwrapped the muslin. I baked some wholemeal rolls and for tea we spread the garlic infused cheese on the warm bread. Lovely.
But you don’t have to use wild garlic, you can add anything that you fancy or is in season. I often roll the pressed cheese in cracked black pepper or chives. Alternatively mix in some chopped chilli or even chopped horseradish leaves.
Making the cheese is simple but does take approximately 48 hours before it’s ready for eating so you need to start it a day couple of days in advance.
I always use a “starter” which you can buy from Goat Nutrition Ltd. The starter comes in the form of a powder that you mix with milk, freeze in ice cube trays and use as required. You only need to buy it once, just make a new batch from a cube when you get low. I also use rennet which can be bought at the same place. You can choose animal or vegetarian rennet. It is possible to use vinegar or lemon juice instead but I have better results with rennet. For the cheese mould I have an old vitamin tub with holes drilled in it and a jam jar filled with water makes a handy press.
When you drain the curd, you will be left with a bowl full of whey. Don’t pour this down the sink, you can use it in your breadmaking, just substitute it for water or, it is rumoured to be an excellent feed for roses or potatoes.
Lightly pressed goat’s cheese
You will need a pot with a lid, muslin, cheese mould (my mould is approx 13cm high x 8cm dia) and a weight. All your equipment should be clean and sterilised before you begin.
- 1.5 – 2 litres milk (I use raw goat’s milk fresh from the goat*)
- 1 ice cube of starter
- Few drops rennet diluted in a 1/4 cup of boiled and cooled water
- Sea salt (approx 1 tsp or to taste)
- Flavouring of choice
- Pour milk into a suitable sized pot with lid (*if your milk is straight out of the fridge you should warm it to around 30 degrees C)
- Add an ice cube of starter
- Stir well until the cube has melted and it’s thoroughly blended into the milk
- Add the diluted rennet and stir well
- Put the lid on and leave for 24 hours (I get a better curd if I leave in a warm room)
- After that time the milk should have formed a solid curd
- Cut into cubes using a pallet knife
- Pour into a sieve lined with muslin
- Leave it for a while and then hang in the muslin and let it drain for a few hours
- When most of the liquid is gone open the muslin and spread the curd
- Add the sea salt and mix in (rather like kneading)**
- Spoon the curd into your mould lined with muslin
- Pack it in tight, cover the top and add a weight (I use a jam jar filled with water)
- Leave for 24 hours in a cool place
- Take out of the mould, unwrap the muslin and roll in black pepper, chives or the flavouring of choice
- Eat and enjoy
**If you want to mix herbs into the cheese, do this after you have mixed in the salt in the same fashion