Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goat Milk Blue Cheese

I made this blue cheese earlier this fall from my fresh raw goat's milk.  I have enjoyed watching the blue mold, penicillium roqueforti, grow on this 8 pound cheese as it has aged.  The blue mold keeps undesirable molds from growing on the cheese and it's enzymes influence the development of the cheese's pungent taste and creamy texture.  

Goat Milk Blue Cheese

I put the penicillium roqueforti mold culture into the cheese milk as I was making the cheese.  I poked holes in the new cheese about 1 inch apart and all the way through all over the cheese with a sterilized stainless skewer.  This allows the blue mold to grow into the cheese.  Several days later this beautiful blue mold grew all over the cheese.  

I wrapped the cheese loosely in a damp cheese cloth to keep the cheese moist during the ageing process.

 Blue Cheese wrapped during ageing

To keep the cheese at the high humidity it needed to ripen properly, I bought a cake carrier to put it in.  It was the perfect size and allowed me to keep the cheese in the same fridge/cooler with the other cheeses without contaminating them with the blue mold.  ( Well ... this was mostly successful ... I have found a little of the blue mold growing on the gouda and provolone! )

Goat Milk Blue Cheese - Under Cover

Here is a slice of the cheese that I cut this morning.  I trimmed the rind off before eating it ... I wasn't brave enough to try the rind!  The cheese has a smooth creamy soft texture and a mild blue cheese flavor.  I think it is delicious ... I really like blue cheese.  I'm sure it's flavor will get stronger as it ages longer, but I couldn't wait to give it a taste! 

Goat Milk Blue Cheese slice

I'm enjoying eating it by it's self and I'm sure it's going to be delicious crumbled into a salad.

I have to give a special "Thank You" to Tonia (from The Simple Life) and her daughters for coming by today and sampling cheeses with me!  I enjoyed sharing the cheeses with them, the visit, and all of the goat stories!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Goat Milk Cheese - Brie

Brie ... also known as the French "King of Cheeses" ... is one of my most favorite cheeses. I love the soft, gooey, creamy, buttery, earthy tasting cheese just under the rind. Oh yes ... you eat the rind too.

I made goat milk Brie for the first time this fall. It is ripe and ready to eat now. I have been anticipating this day for many weeks! I cut into one of the Brie wheels today..... Mmmmm...

In the photo below you can see the perfectly ripened cheese! It tastes SO good. It has a wonderfully complex flavor. When you first taste it ... you taste the earthy flavor of the cheese ripened by the white molds ... and then as the flavor develops on your tongue ... it is a mild cheese with a sort of buttery flavor. It is absolutely delicious!

My Goat Milk Brie - close up

When I made the Brie cheeses earlier this fall, I followed the recipe very closely. The timing and temperature are very important to develop the correct pH for the white mold to grow on the cheese rind. Brie is a cheese with a high moisture content and a higher pH than most cheeses. It has to be handled carefully during the making and ripening processes.

I inoculated the cheese milk during the making process with a mixture of penicillium candidium and geotrichum candidium for the white mold to grow on the rind. This is a cheese that ripens from the rind to the interior of the cheese during the aging process. Some cheeses, such as cheddar, ripen from the inside out.

It took a few days at room temperature for the fresh made cheeses to get all white and fuzzy ... and then the fuzzy mold smoothed out.

After wrapping the Brie cheeses in a special cheese paper, they went into the large fridge/cooler to age at around 50* for several weeks. I flipped them over regularly to keep the moisture balanced in the cheese.

The photo below shows one of the Brie cheeses after being wrapped in the special cheese paper for a few days. The cheese paper has an absorbent layer that goes next to the cheese and a plastic layer that goes on the outside. It is breathable so the microorganisms in the cheese and the white molds can have the oxygen they need to grow. The special cheese paper also keeps the cheese from drying out during aging.

Goat milk Brie during aging

You can see a sort of red/brown color on the rind of the Brie. This is from a bacteria called brevibacterium linens. This gives an added flavor component to the Brie cheese. You see this red bacteria most often on the rind of munster cheese.

I made 4 of the 5" wheels and 3 small ones that are about 4oz each. I call these Baby Brie. You can see the white mold is still a little fuzzy on these Brie cheeses in the photo below.

Baby Brie

My Goat Milk Brie

I am very VERY pleased with my first attempt at making Brie cheese. I just wish I had made more of it before drying the goats off in preparation for kidding season! This is definitely a cheese that I will be making a lot of this spring when the does have their kids and I have lots of milk again!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Goat Cheeses - Cheddar and Pepper Jack

I love making cheeses from my fresh raw goat's milk! I love eating the cheeses too! They are SO delicious.

Here are a couple of cheeses that I made this fall. They are out in the processing room in the large fridge/cooler aging.

They'll be ready to eat in about another week. Raw milk cheeses have to be aged at least 60 days to be sure they are safe to eat. I'm very anxious to taste them. They smell wonderful.

Here is a 10 pound goat milk Pepper Jack cheese. I dried jalapeno and cayenne peppers from my garden to use in this cheese. Yumm!

Goat Milk Pepper Jack
Goat Milk Pepper Jack

Here are a couple of 10 pound goat milk Cheddar type cheeses.

Goat Milk Cheddar cheeses

I have them on a plastic mat in containers for aging. This keeps them at the correct humidity that keeps them from drying out during the aging process. I put a little water in the bottom of the container to keep the humidity around 85% to 90%. You can see the thermometer/hydrometer in the top container. The temperature stays between 48* and 50* during the aging time.

Cheddar and Pepper Jack

The cheeses have to be flipped over regularly during the aging process to keep the moisture evened out in the cheese. Opening the containers to flip the cheeses also allows the gases to exchange for fresh air in the containers.

I can hardly wait to taste these cheeses!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Observations from the Goat Pen …

Having goats around is like having a bunch of 3-year- olds around….

They a
lways think it's time for eating and they’re not the best mannered....

If you walk into the pen with a pail of feed… you won't survive, and neither will your pail, even when it's empty since they all have to know what's in it....

They enjoy burping in your face, and chewing on your hair....

If you're late for chores, they will protest very loudly, and then totally forgive you as soon as they are fed and milked....

Throw a bale of hay in the pen, and it MUST be climbed upon by all of them....

If you need to fix something in their pen, you WILL have plenty of help! In the process of fixing anything, you may have to hunt for your screwdriver, or the bag you HAD the screws in. And any sheet of paper… well, good luck keeping that in one piece!

If something’s loose, they will find it and play with it until it's really loose or broken, and then they can HELP you fix it--(see above note)...

If there's baby chicks in the barn ... Holly will help them to the top of the fence!

If it makes noise, such as a hanging chain, let’s make noise ALL afternoon!

During milking… if one of them ... Lilah for example! ... thinks you're not getting their group into the parlor fast enough, they will knock on the parlor door, saying hurry up in there, it’s our turn already!

But when all is said and done, they will come up and want a scratch, a cuddle, and a nose snuggle just the same as any three year old wants mom's affection.

You've got a love 'em!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The "New" Cheese Processing Room

The Cheese Processing Room used to be the Tank Room many ... many years ago when they milked cows here. It was completely empty when we bought the farm. This room is attached to the Milking Parlor and was originally built to house the large bulk tank that the milk would be pumped into at each milking for the milk truck to come pick up.

It's a 12x18 room with a concrete floor that has two drains in the floor. The walls are covered in a plastic type of paneling (sort of like inside a shower). This makes it easy to keep clean.

Since the purpose of moving to this farm was to milk the goats and make goat milk cheese, we've done some remodeling to the old tank room ...

Since the milking parlor and tank rooms hadn't been used in so many years ... a lot of the wiring had been stripped out and what was there was NOT up to code. It needed a LOT of repair.

I'm glad my Dad has great electrical skills. He spent much of his "working" years in the electric industry. We installed a new breaker box and pulled wire for the equipment needed in the processing room and in the milking parlor. He taught me a lot about electricity and wiring during the process.

Dad rewiring the Parlor and Processing rooms

We gave the walls and ceiling a new coat of white enamel. This brightened up the walls that had yellowed over the years.

Along the west wall ... we installed a 9 foot - 3 compartment stainless steel sink. Each compartment is a little over 2 foot square and very deep. It also has 18 inch drain boards at each end.

This is where I wash, rinse, and sanitize the miking and cheese processing equipment. You can see the stainless milk bucket and hoses draining upside down at the far end of the sink. I'm also draining some of the 5 gallon buckets in the end sink compartment after washing them.

The Sink Wall

I have to admit ... I had this sink picked out at a local restaurant equipment & supply store a year before I was able to buy it ... even before I bought my first dairy goat! I knew it would play a central part in the processing room. I had dreams and plans of how I would use it!

I have a cart with the microwave at the south end of the sink and the 10 gallon steam kettle is at the north end of the sink. It's tipped over in this photo draining after being washed.

I installed Rubbermaid shelving above the sink. This is where I store the various large pots, pans, and other things I use when making the cheese. This shelving is a great place for them to drip dry after I wash them too. I also use the shelving to hang some of the cheeses that I put into cheese bags to drain over the sink.

I have large metal trays (seen on the self above the sink) that fit nicely over the sink compartments - converting the sink into working counter space. This makes the sink area a very versatile work area!

Sink wall and shelves

We've installed a 10 gallon steam kettle at the north end of the sink. It's not new, but works great! My Dad had to rewire it from 3 phase to single phase for it to work out here in the country!

This is where I make my cheese and yogurt batches. It works wonderfully! I can control the temperature during each of the processing phases of making cheeses. Someday I'll get a larger cheese vat, but for now the steam kettle is great.

The Steam Kettle

I installed a large 3 door commercial fridge along the west wall of the room. This is where I cool the 5 gallon buckets of milk after straining it into them right after milking. I also keep the yogurt and fresh cheeses in here.

The fridge

At this time of year when I'm not milking all of the goats, I have some of the cheeses ageing in the fridge. (more on these in future posts!)

Cheeses in the fridge

I have a 4x6 walk in cooler that I will be setting up beside the fridge for ageing the cheeses, but it's not installed yet.

The cook stove and more shelving for dry items are at the north end of the fridge. You can see 3 munster cheeses in the tub on the stove. They're at room temp - developing their beautiful red covering of B. linens that gives them their distinctive flavor.

The cook stove

The Processing Room has come a long way from being a Tank room. I enjoy working in it and making cheeses in it!

I have to give my Mom a big "Thank You" for helping me purchase some of the pieces of equipment for the Milk Parlor and Processing Room. She came to live with us almost 2 years ago and has been very helpful here on the farm.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Goats In the Parlor

Milking in the remodeled Milking Parlor is a real pleasure. The parlor will hold 16 goats and I milk 2 at a time with the bucket milker. It only takes about 12 minutes to milk each group of 16 goats. Now that's progress!

Here are the LaManchas loading into the parlor for milking. They find an empty stanchion opening pretty quickly and dive into the grain buckets! This sets the auto-lock securing them into the stanchion.

LaMancha girls ready to milk

Most of the LaMancha does in these photos are the ones shown as babies in the earlier post on Feeding the Kids. The 2009 milking season was their first freshening.

LaMancha does locked in for milking

For about the first week of using the new milking parlor and milking by machine instead of by hand was interesting to say the least !! Most of the does took to it easily. However, for some of them it was a real rodeo! There was bucking, kicking and jumping around! But, even the most ticklish does got used to it pretty quickly.

I did, however, get kicked in the nose by one of them! I learned which ones were likely to kick and I held their back leg with one hand while putting the milker on with the other one. I'm glad there wasn't anyone in the milking parlor watching because it was quite a comedy routine!


The 7 gallon stainless milk buckets are set up to milk 2 goats at a time. I have two of the buckets, but only used one this season. The girls learned to let their milk down pretty quickly so it only takes a couple of minutes for each doe.

Milking Opal and NaNa

When the LaMancha does are finished milking, I release the stanchions with the release lever at the end. They go back to their area of the barn to eat fresh hay. And, it's time to bring in the next group of does.

The Nubian and Alpine group is shown below coming into the parlor to find their place to eat.

The second group coming in

They come into the parlor so fast that it was hard to get a photo of them before they all had their heads in the stanchion and eating their grain!

The Nubians and Alpines ready to milk

This group of does are my more mature girls. During the peak months of the season, most of them give a gallon and a half a day ... I have 2 that give a little over two gallons a day. Needless to say ... I am keeping all of their doe kids. Their daughters are milking great too.

Milking Emily

Milking Kat

Lilah says that they're all done and ready to go back out!

Here is some of the delicious fresh milk going through the strainer into one of the 5 gallon buckets. I use these FDA approved buckets to store the milk in the large fridge before making cheese.

Fresh Milk

I am very pleased with the Milking Parlor. The goats are at just the right height for me to milk. It is easy to use and the goats flow into and out of it easily. I think they enjoy it as much as I do!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Milk Parlor - Remodel

We finished the move to the new farm in September, 2008. I dried the milking does off and breeding season had started. By this time I had 32 does ready to breed. I put the bucks in with the does the first weekend of September.

In 5 months ... when the does started delivering their kids, I would need the milking parlor ready to milk in. We had a lot of work to do to get the barn and parlor ready!

The Barn had been built in 1940 and we started with the immediate needs of getting it repaired and dried in to be a safe place for the goat's shelter. Then it was time to turn our attention to the Milking Parlor that was built over 20 years ago and hadn't been miked in for many many years.

The Milking Parlor and Tank Room are attached to the big barn with a large covered shed connecting them.

Front of the Barn

Here is the back of the barn showing the covered shed connecting the Milk Parlor to the Barn.

Back of the Barn

Since the old Milking Parlor had been originally constructed to milk 4 cows on each side, we had to cut out a lot of the old metal piping in order to remodel it for the goats.

Ray cutting out some of the old pipes

We bought auto-lock calf stanchions to hold the goats while they were being milked. We had to modify them slightly by welding an additional pipe on each stanchion because the goat's heads are smaller than a calf head. There is room for 16 does to come into the milk parlor at once. They put their head through the opening to eat grain out of the feeders and the stanchion locks them in.

Ray installing the stanchions

Ray had a great idea for keeping the goats from jumping down into the pit with me while I milked ... he welded new hog panels onto the front of some of the old original upright pipes.

Ray welding the guard panels on.

Here I am cleaning up when he was finished with the cutting and welding.

Cleaning up

With the freezing cold days ... it took several weeks ... but we finally got it all put together!

The stanchions and guard panels installed!

We acquired an old Surge vacuum pump for the milking parlor. Ray build a vacuum line from pvc pipe that the hoses from the bucket milker connect to for making the pulsators and milkers work.

The Surge vacuum pump

Ray welded a pipe behind the stanchions for the feeders to hook over. This is where I put the grain that the goats eat while they're being milked.

The feeders are in place

There is a lever at the end of the stanchions that sets the auto-lock feature. As soon as the goats put their heads through the openings ... the top of the opening will lock into a grove in the top pipe. This holds them until the lever is raised up to release them. Here the lever is set and ready for the goats to come in.

The release lever

I have the 7 gallon stainless milk bucket all set up and ready for the goats to come running into the barn for grain and milking! My Dad build a wonderful cart for me that holds the milk bucket. This allows me to easily roll the bucket along as I move down the line of goats during milking time. You can also see in this photo that we have the old original upright pipes painted to match the new stanchions.

The parlor set up for milking

Everything is ready for the goats to come in for milking. The barn cats, Simba and Sheba, are giving it an inspection before letting the goats in.

Ready to milk!

Notice on the end wall ... that we have installed a propane wall heater in the milking parlor. That sure makes it more comfortable on these cold winter days!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The "New" Farm

During the Summer of 2008 we were on the search for a farm that would help us go from making cheese in the kitchen to a goat cheese business that could eventually provide the income for our household.

Yes ... I know it was a big step and a big dream. I've always believed in dreaming big and then taking the steps to make the dream happen.

The criteria for the new farm was that it had to have a decent house to live in ... shelter for the goats ... pasture for the horses ... a milking parlor ... a good clean water supply to meet state milk board regulations .... a convenient location ... and be within our price range.

We looked at several farms and finally purchased a farm in Laclede county that was only about 30 minutes from our old farm. It met our criteria for the new farm.

Front of the "New" house

It has 22 acres with a large fresh water spring for the horses, a house and barn that was built in 1940 ... okay so the farm is "new" to us ... but definitely not a new farm. The house and barn are built from rough cut oak. Their framework is very solid. The house has been completely remodeled inside and is very nice. My office is in the room behind the three windows in the roof line.

Back of the "new" house

It's only a short walk from the back steps to the barn and milking parlor.

The milking parlor and attached tank room were built more that 20 years ago and probably hadn't been milked in for more than 15 years. It was constructed for milking 4 cows on each side of the parlor. Needless to say we have done a LOT of remodeling to the milking parlor and tank room to make them fit the goats and the tank room into the cheese processing room. (More on these buildings in future posts!)

The old barn ... When I first saw it ... I thought ... Oh My! But, when I took a close look at it, I realized that the solid oak framework was solid. It only need a face lift and some tin put back on the roof.

The back of the barn just after we moved to the farm

The front of the barn after we had started working on it.

We tore out the entire front of the barn and rebuilt it from the concrete up. The side of the barn also got the new white metal on it.

Yes, that's me on the ladder securing some of the roof tin!

The barn gives plenty of shelter space for the goats and room for hay storage in the large loft.

It has been a lot of work restoring the old barn and other structures here on the new farm, but it's all coming together.