1 gallon fresh milk (I use fresh from the goat typically, though chilled or frozen will work.)
Vinegar (I pour in some vinegar, swirl the pan around to see if it’s starting to curdle, and if not, I add more vinegar.)
If the milk is fresh, put it in a stainless steel pot and add 1/4 cup (more or less) distilled white vinegar, or lemon or orange juice. Differing stages of lactation and temperatures of the kitchen seem to necessitate the varied use of vinegar each time.
If milk is chilled or frozen, it needs to be heated to around 100°F (close to goat body temperature).
Then I let the curds set in the whey for one hour, up to 12 hours, depending on how busy I get. This makes the curd very creamy.
I use a slotted spoon to ladle the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth, or new diaper cloth, old linen-style dishtowels or old pillowcase material. Or, to make it easy, several layers of a good-quality paper towel. It needs to hold together well when wet, yet let the whey drain out well.
I drain the cheese until it is the texture I want—from moist and creamy like a dip, to dry and crumbly for salads, and everything in between. This could take from a few minutes to hours.
Add a dab of sea salt and whatever flavorings or herbs tempt you at the time.
I like the following:
• Garlic and Italian herb
• Green onions
• Garlic, rosemary and thyme
• Ranch dressing powdered mix
• Onion soup mix
• For sweetness, add honey or sugar and cinnamon
• For truffles and candies, sweet things like candied cherries and fruit, jams and jellies, mints and other flavors.
Some people drain the cheese well and brine it, set it in herbed vinegars or oils, or roll it in edible flowers.
Drained well, rolled into logs and battered, it makes great cheese sticks. Frozen and sliced, it makes great ravioli filling.
• In lasagna mixed with mozzarella, or in manicotti.
• Mix with garlic butter and toasted on bread. (Thanks to Bec for that one!)
• On buttered biscuits—it makes a creamy gooey filling.
• Mix with chocolate chips and fill crescent rolls, baked and sprinkled with sugar for a sweet breakfast pastry.
This cheese can be used in some cheesecake recipes as well (in place of cream cheese).
Pretty much whatever you want to use a soft cheese for, it works. Oh, and it’s good on nachos, or on crackers for appetizers, too.