I started milking both goats when I got them Saturday before last, but didn’t start keeping the milk until Wednesday, since I had wormed Sally when she got here. It didn’t make a lot of difference, because in no time, my fridge was full, I mean FULL of milk. It was time to start making cheese!

First though, I had to make some upgrades to my cheese making process. First and foremost, I needed a reliable, accurate thermometer. Most of my cheese making last year was hit or miss, and I blame most of it on the thermometers I used. No matter that I was standing right there, one second the temp on the cheese “vat” would be fine, and the next, it would be way too high. So I bought a new thermometer. The new one has a probe that goes into the vat, with a line that leads to the thermometer part. It’s digital, so no guessing if that little line is 96 or 98 degrees, I know. No dipping the thermometer in to the cheese then laying it on a hopefully clean surface, it stays in the cheese from beginning to end. It has an alarm, so I can set it for a degree or two before my desired temp, and then turn off the heat before it over heats. It’s wonderful. I love it!

Another “upgrade”, but a free one this time, is that I started using my crockpot for my vat instead of the stainless steel stockpot I used last year. It is easier to get a steady, slow rise in temperature, and easier to keep the desired temp once I get it there. No messing with sinks full of water or unpredictable heating elements on the stove. I slowly increase the temp to where I want it, then turn off the crockpot and with the thermometer still in place, wrap a towel around the whole shebang. It stays at an almost constant temperature for the entire hour or hour and a half I need it to. If it drops, I just turn it to warm or low for five minutes and then turn the heat back off.

Crock pot cheese vat. See the thermometer probe?

With mozzarella for instance, I need the temp to ultimately get to 90-91 degrees before I add the rennet, stay there until it sets, and then hold it there until an hour after I cut the curds,while stirring it a few times the first half hour to keep them from sticking together. So I turn it to high until the milk reaches 84-86 degrees and turn it off. Leaving the thermometer in, I wrap a towel around it. I set the alarm for 91, and it beeps when it reaches that temp. I add the rennet, and check every fifteen minutes til the curds set. If the temp drops below 90′ I turn the crockpot to warm, and warm it up to 90-91 again. If it gets above 92′ I take the towel off. as long as it doesn’t go above 100 degrees, the mozzarella will still turn out well, but i can keep it within 89-92 the entire time with no problem. This was impossible with a steel stockpot on the stove. I am very pleased with how it worked yesterday,When I made a garlic and herb pressed goat cheese, a mozzarella, a Chevre and ricotta. I am repeating the process today, making another of the pressed goat cheeses.

I’ll probably make cheese again in about a week! We are hoping ot have an old fridge set up to be a cheese cave and I will start making cheddars and other kind of cheeses! I can’t wait!