February 23, 2011

Homemade "Neufchatel" Cheese

Homemade cheese dripping from the cabinets. 
If you had walked into apartment 308 a few weeks ago, you may have wondered why there was the faint scent of goat's milk lingering in the air. You may have walked into the kitchen and wondered what the white cloths that looked like ghosts little kids make for halloween were doing hanging from our cabinets. (And then you may have then started wondering if you really wanted to be in this apartment at all).

But rest assured, it was all for a good cause. We were making homemade cheese.

Making homemade cheese is quite a process. For one, it really gives you an appreciation for how much time, effort and patience goes into cheese making - and we were making a fairly simple cheese.

Cheese can be a lot of things - from what is basically a thickened yogurt to a complexed aged French cheese which ripened in a cave for 5 months.  Either way, cheese made with care and attention is always a good thing and, if you're as crazy about cheese as I am, you just can't get enough of it.

We made our cheese, which is a simple, fresh goat cheese, using a recipe from David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D., a professor at U.C. Clermont College in Batavia, OH with a really interesting website. He calls this cheese "Neufchatel," which you might have seen around as "Fresh Farmer's Cheese." This is a goat's milk cheese made using rennet (an enzyme used for cheese-making, ours was a vegetarian version) and buttermilk. It's soft and spreadable with a bright, tangy flavor. It was perfect on toast with a little olive oil or spread on a sandwich. 

To start, we let the goats milk, rennet and buttermilk sit overnight until a soft curd formed. 

The curd having been cubed.

Then, we cubed the curd (isn't it pretty? maybe only I think so...) and placed it into cheesecloth where it was allowed to drip for a few days to get a little firmer and more "cheese" like. 

The cheese first drips at room temperature, then in the fridge (in our case, a mini-fridge).
Finally, we unwrapped it, salted it, and ate away! 

The finished cheese!