Posts Tagged ‘Cheese Making’

Anyone know of any?  A friend of ours was asking, and I wasn’t sure what to recommend.

There are plenty of books devoted to the home cheesemaker.  But we’re looking for a book that covers home dairy animals – selection, breeding, milking, management, birthing, the whole shebang.  A section on home cheesemaking would be a plus.

A lot of our books are too generic, I think Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats is probably the closest.  But I want something one step up.

If I was more experienced, I think I might write the book. 😉  Maybe one day …


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Valencay-style goat cheese

Friday night we split open the first of HB’s experimental Valencay-style cheese.  Is it not beautiful?

According to artisinalcheese.com,

Valençay is one of the classic raw milk mold-ripened chèvres from the Loire Valley in the central western region of France. This pasteurized version of young goat’s milk cheese is distinctly identified by its pyramid form which is blanketed by an ash mold. After ripening in the caves … the texture is smooth and dense with a mild, lemony, and altogether clean flavor. A versatile pairing partner for most dry white wines, we especially recommend that you pair Valençay with Sauvignon Blancs.

Creamy and very mild, and startling white on the inside and outside, with a small layer of vegetable ash in between.  We’re trying to determine when the pyramid is at its best.  We’re letting another pyramid age another week, to be opened this coming weekend and tested.

Overall, very promising and simply gorgeous.  Well received by our market friends and taste testers as well.  You can read more about its making at HB’s blog.

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Nubian Dairy Goat from Dairy Goat Journal

Last week the CBS Early Morning Show had a segment on goat cheese featuring Bobby Flay and Rainbeau Ridge goat cheese.

You can view the segment here.

Part of the segment focuses on the versatility of goat cheese.  The ladies at Rainbeau Ridge have produced a cookbook with this focus, entitled Over the Rainbeau.  The book also shares its focuses on sustainable living.  I’ve yet to get my hands on a copy, but it is on my wishlist!

We had a friend over the other weekend who made a cheesecake using our plain chevre.  It was AMAZING, topped with fresh strawberries.  Don’t just use your cheese with crackers.  Experiment.  I’m keeping a photo log of every recipe we use that includes our cheese.  It’s fun, and tasty, to experiment this way!

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The goat kids are growing like weeds.  I weighed them the other night, they average around 30 pounds, just over one month old.  Fred and Bogart (Memphis’ kids) are the biggest, and the youngest.  Their bone structure is much more substantial, while Rock and Doris (Abba’s kids) are taller, leaner, but weigh more than you think!

One month.

I can’t believe it.

I spent five months waiting, planning, and in the span of 30 days, time has flown by.  We have a new routine, new kids to play with.  To laugh at.  To cuddle with.  To wince at when they chew a little too much on your hair…

We expect Xenia to kid soon! She is due on Thursday the 29th.  She’s no where near as big as the other does were this close to birth.  Her udder isn’t nearly as full, but I really do think she’s still pregnant – over the past month her sides have taken on a more rotund dimension.  She’s such a high-stress girl.

All the kids have homes:  Doris will remain with us and become a future milker, Bogart will move in with Donut once he’s old enough for weaning – we plan on him to become a companion as we will eventually have to put Sweet Roll down due to his illness.  Fred and Rock will move in with Donut and be fed out and sold to buyers in North Carolina, co-workers of good friends there. I think I managed to pick the most mischievous buckling to keep for our own pet (he will be castrated shortly).  Bogey’s into anything and everything and often keeps me company while I do chores and clean Huck’s paddock.  He finds great joy and jumping on and off objects.  I love his zest for life.  I love all of the goat’s enthusiasm towards life.  It’s something good to model in our own lives.

We put a deposit down on a buckling this week, and we will go pick him up this summer.  He’s a nicely bred French Alpine with good conformation and bloodlines that overlap very little with our current stock.  I wouldn’t have minded something a little more flashy – a nice wide belt? – but we’re not breeding for color — we’re breeding for quality stock with good conformation, attitudes, and milking ability.

Our cheesemaking is going well.  We’ve had chevre transported up and down the East Coast by friends, who all come back with rave reviews.  Our friends have been known to hoard their chevre.  We’re up to several different flavors: plain, herbs de provence, cracked peppercorn, and the newest – a smokey chipotle.  My co-workers love me, since I regularly bring in cheese to share.   I luckily work with some pretty daring taste-testers, lots of foodie’s in one animal hospital!  We call them our “R&D department” and test run new flavors on them and get feedback on new flavors to try.  Some work, others need some tweaking.  They in turn share it with their friends, and we’re already developing a future customer base.  It’s the life of the party.   Not really.  But close. 😉

My father has surgery tomorrow, so please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.  I’m likely to be gone for another short stint depending on how everything goes.  It’s been a rough week:  last Thursday HB’s mom had her first chemo session at the same time her father was having quadruple bypass surgery.  Everyone is doing well, thankfully.

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Last week, a Charlottesville-area television station had a short segment on local goat dairies.  Included in the spotlight were Night Sky Farm of Brookneal, Caramont Farm of Esmont, Goats R Us of Blackstone, and Iron Rod Chevre of Earlysville.  You can view the clip on the Edible Blue Ridge website.


It’s been a very busy week, so I apologize for the lack of updates.  I worked all through the weekend, and on Monday I had the opportunity to spend the day with Jennifer Downey at Night Sky Farm (link above and under the “Favorites” tab).  It was a wonderful, informative day.  I arrived in time to “help” with the morning milking of 13 does and her wonderful Jersey cow, Emily.  Jennifer has a wonderful team of helpers and the milking runs like a well-oiled machine.  While the does were milked, I learned about udder structure and mammary attachment by viewing a variety of udder shapes and sizes.

Once the milking was complete and the machines were cleaned, we headed up to see the “nursery” where all the older kids are kept, ranging from 4 days to several weeks old.  Part of the reason for the trip was to inspect prospective bucklings — HB and I are debating over purchasing our own buck for the upcoming breeding season,  “borrowing” a buck from a friend, taking does to a buck, or investing in artificial insemination (the least likely option).  Jennifer has 2-3 buck kids that have potential AND come from completely unrelated bloodlines from our does.  We just need to decide what we want to do.  And decide quickly!

Once we had played with the kids, we went to the make room where I got to learn a little about her cheesemaking process and pasteurization.  We wrapped up the day with a visit to her bucks and junior herdsires.  The young bucks were really cute – still on the small side, and so curious.  I adore the way bucks seem to have the little tuff of hair on their foreheads.  The buck our Toggenburg, Xenia, is bred to has a big curly forelock.

Let me just say, that while the day was very educational, it was just a lot of fun to see all the goats and watch them interact, soak up some sun in the pasture, and play with the KIDS!


Today my mother in law had surgery to remove a small growth in her breast.  She was diagnosed just over a month ago, and after a series of tests finally had the tumor removed.  Her surgery went well, and we’re hoping that the pathology reports will come back next week with clean margins.  We spent most of the day at the hospital, but were able to come home and within a few hours HB had put the floor on the goat shed for the hay loft.  I stayed inside to do a few chores and clean the barn a little.

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Last fall HB stumbled upon a cheese magazine entitled Culture.  Two copies were given to him by the owners of a local meat & cheese shop.  At $10/each, this wasn’t a cheap gift.

HB brought the magazines home and we devoured them.  Great articles, beautiful photographs, and delicious cheeses filled every page.  One of the first issues featured Virginia’s own, Pat Elliot and Everona Dairy.

For Christmas my parents gave HB a subscription to the magazine, so imagine our delight this week when I found this in the mailbox –

Culture magaine, spring 2010 issue

It’s a really interesting, beautiful magazine.  A few stores in south central Virginia have begun to stock it as well.  For more information, check out their website.

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It's not Camembert, but what is it?

In November 2009, using the last gallon of milk from Anita, HB attempted to make a goat’s milk Camembert.  Nearly two months later, we decided to try the cheese.  What we had wasn’t Camembert, but rather something much harder.  HB took a sample with us to Caromont to review it with Gail Hobbs-Page, and it was decided that what we had created was something more reminiscent of a an aged Spanish cheese.  Interesting.

The flavor was good, the cheese perhaps a little too hard (think, aged Parmesan), and we had a few air bubbles in the wheels.  HB discussed the cheese with Gail, pulling out his notebook where he writes his cheesemaking notes, and reviewing the process.  It was decided that to make Camembert we needn’t cut the curd, but rather just ladle the curd into the molds.

Cheese making is all about the technique, you know.

Over the end of last week I saved up two gallons of milk from Jacqsonne (about 3 day’s worth of milk) for us to turn into a second attempt of Not Camembert.  The picture above is the following day, after removing the cheese wheels from their molds.  So far, so good.  The wheels are aging away in our converted wine fridge.  It will be interesting to see how these wheels compare to the last attempt!

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