Busy, busy – life as a dairymaid

Spring is still a couple of weeks away, but it seems like I’m already way, way behind. Behind on seed starting, tree planting, digging, you name it, I’m behind. I blame it on the goats – milking two goats and coping with the milk takes time – half an hour twice a day, plus making cheese (even with other things done in the elapsed time, it’s at least an hour per gallon of milk/pound of cheese), then the laundry and dishwasher to keep the milking materials clean; it’s a 10 to 15 hour a week part-time job. We are getting 4-6 pounds, twice a day; so about 9 gallons a week. We do enjoy the fresh milk; we used to go through about a gallon a week. Having lots of yogurt is nice; it’s thinner than store bought yogurt, as expected (they do all sorts of tricky things to make yogurt thicker, gelatin and modified food starch and all that). It makes great lassi, though. You can drain it to make a type of cheese, but it’s easier to just make cheese in the first place.

I make a lot of chevre. It’s very easy; just add culture and rennet, let it sit for 24 hours, then drain. It’s rather dull by itself, we try adding it to quiche and pasta sauce, but it remains plain. It really needs to be made into cheesecake :-). To get over the plainness, I’ve been experimenting adding garlic, herbs and things to it; Jay’s a big fan of the garlic. The other type of cheese I can make reliably (well, usually – todays isn’t looking good – if you forget to add the lipase before the rennet, just give it up…) is feta. I have been experimenting with a cheddar recipe; I’m not happy with the way my cheese press works, so I’ve not been even trying to get something I can age for 6 months! But every so often, my not-pressed-enough, lightly aged cheese is really delicious. I’m rather taken aback when I cut into one of the many rounds in the fridge and find a tangy, creamy, delicious cheese that works on a sandwich.

I used to make mozzarella a lot, but I haven’t done it lately. I’d need to find time to make lasagna to use it up…

Last year I tried making butter from cream from our goat’s milk. Goat butter is pure white. It also has very little flavor. It was like crisco, and there didn’t seem much point in it for all the work. But the chevre often has a buttery flavor, so I added some chevre culture so some cream (just spooned off the top of the 6 quarts that went into the unlucky batch of feta), left it for a few hours, and the resulting butter actually has a buttery flavor! It’s still stark white, but we can learn to live with that.

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