Making Goat Cheese, Simplified

By Maria Garza

Goat cheese is well-known for its creamy texture and tart taste. Although it comes in many varieties and flavors, the signature form for goat cheese is the soft, spreadable version known as chevre. Though chevre certainly showcases the wonderful properties of goat milk for cheese, other kinds of delicious soft cheeses are also easily made from goat milk.

The special tartness that identifies cheeses made from goat milk from those made from cow's milk is a result of the abundance of three medium chain fatty acids known as caproic, caprylic and capric acid. These medium-chain fatty acids lend a unique flavor to goat cheese that is absent in cow's cheese. They also play an important role in the greater digestibility of goat milk products.

Milk consists of approximately 87% water and 13% solids. The process of making cheese consists of separating the liquid part of milk, known as whey, from the solid particles, or curd. The curd consists of casein protein and fat, which together form the cheese.

There are two methods for separating the whey from the curd for making cheese, but both methods work by acidifying the milk. In the first method, bacteria are introduced into the milk and allowed to multiply. The bacterial action converts the milk sugar, lactose, into lactic acid. The longer the bacteria are allowed to remain active, the more lactose is converted.

This process reduces the lactose content of ripened and aged cheeses to about 5% or less. Because most of the lactose has been removed from these products, they are often recommended as milk alternatives for lactose intolerant individuals.

The second method uses an acidifying agent, usually vinegar or lemon juice, to create the separation. As the acid is introduced into the milk, curds begin forming almost immediately. When drained, these curds make a soft, spreadable cheese.

Although some forms of goat cheese do require carefully controlled conditions and special ingredients, there are several soft cheeses that can be easily made with simple ingredients found at the grocery. Two recipes are given below.

Recipe 1. Ricotta Cheese from Goat Milk. Warm 2 quarts of goat milk to 185° F. When the temperature is reached, turn off the heat, and stir in 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. If the milk does not immediately form small, grain-like curds in the liquid, add a few more drops of the vinegar or lemon juice until it does.

Pour the curds and whey into a cheesecloth-lined colander placed over a bowl, or in the sink, to drain. Leave to drain at room temperature for several hours. A longer draining time will produce a drier curd. When the desired consistency is reached, remove the curds and place in a closed container in the refrigerator for storage. This cheese can be used for making lasagna, or in any recipe that calls for ricotta cheese.

Recipe 2. Quark Cheese from Goat Milk. Heat 2 quarts of goat milk to 88° F, and stir in 2 tablespoons buttermilk with active cultures. If your buttermilk is not very fresh, use up to 2 tablespoons more. Let set at room temperature, covered, for 24 hours. The mixture will thicken into a yogurt-like consistency.

Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth-lined colander placed over a bowl. Cover and let drain in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Store the cheese in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Quark cheese is similar to a thick sour cream, and, much like buttermilk or sour cream, is excellent in baked goods, including cheesecake. It can also be used for dips, or as a substitute for ricotta.

Non-iodized salt can be added to the cheeses, if desired.


Maria Garza is the editor of where you'll find Everything Goat Milk. Visit the website to learn more about the uses of goat milk for health, nutrition, cheesemaking, and skin care, plus more.

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