I never knew I could make a round of soft cheese so easily until I checked out Homemade — the Ultimate DIY Cookbook by Yvette Van Boven — a book so loaded with inspiration for simple projects that I barely knew where to begin. Last year I made ricotta cheese in this post. This process just goes one step further firming the ricotta up into more of a round. I used goat’s milk this time from Grace Harbor Farms which tasted sweet and fresh, just like spring. Following Boven’s step-by-step instructions and photos was a breeze. Here’s my version of her recipe.
Goat’s Milk Soft Cheese Recipe
Ingredients: 1 quart (4 cups) goat’s milk (cow’s milk is fine too)/ 1 quart buttermilk/ lemon juice – I used about 1/2 lemon/ 1/2 t salt
Equipment: 1 14oz. can with lids from both ends removed — save one lid/ a smaller can that just fits inside the 14oz. can — I used a can of canned tomatoes for the larger, a can of tomato sauce for the smaller/ cheesecloth/ a large saucepan/ a slotted spoon/ a large strainer/ a large bowl/ a small plate/ long piece of elastic
Directions: Heat the 2 milks in a large saucepan adding the lemon juice/ when the milk is near boiling, it will separate into curds and whey.
Begin lifting the curds from the whey into a large strainer, placing a bowl underneath to catch the whey/ Stir gently and strain until all the whey has drained. Use the whey later in your smoothies, on cereal, or in baking just about anything that calls for milk. It’s way too good to toss away.
At this point, you’ve made ricotta. If you want to stop here, you can put it into cheesecloth and continue to let it drain over the bowl/ If you want to make a soft cheese round, place it in a bowl, add salt and stir/ Place the cheese cloth in the larger can, set it on a small plate and pour in the curds.
Pull up the corners of the cheesecloth, allowing the cheese to sink in/ Cut off excess cheesecloth and cover with the reserved lid/ Cover with the smaller can and wrap both cans and the plate with a long piece of elastic – you can tighten it as the cheese dries.
Place the whole contraption in the fridge for at least 12 hours, I left mine for 2 days/ Gently lift out the cheesecloth and you have a lovely soft round of cheese, perfect for your first picnic of the season. Cut up some tender fresh chives and sprinkle on top.
It’s almost rhubarb season and time to make a batch of rhubarb thyme jam — a perfect partner to your lovely little round of cheese. You can also use it on a marinated beet salad or in a bowl of massaged kale.
There are so many delicious ways to use this cheese that before you know it, you’ll be back for round two.
Here’s an inspiring video about two women who started a business making homemade ricotta in Brooklyn.