I have never held in my hands the udders of a four-legged mammal before. But it was during our stay in Hardine for the Blooming April events series that Bruno and I decided to go on a little adventure and decided one morning to go to the nearby goat herder and get ourselves some fresh goat milk and attempt to make cheese.
We woke up one Sunday morning and drove to where the goats are. Charbel, the goat herder, gave us the white plastic wide-mouthed gallons and advised us to put on latex gloves because the smell would be hard to get rid of. Charbel got a mother goat out and calmly it obliged and offered her udders for us. We approached and started squeezing to no avail. I was afraid of squeezing wrong or too much and end up hurting the goat. But after being told that I SHOULD squeeze harder, I had no option but to try.
I squeezed harder this time. The udders are soft and rubbery. I squeezed and pushed down but only a thin stream of warm milk squirted down into the gallon. Alternatively, Charbel moved us aside and took hold of those udders and with skillful experienced hand moves, he squeezed down a gush. He put us to shame that we stepped aside and petted the goats instead.
We took our milk and pasteurized it. Then each of us took his gallon and decided to try cheese making differently. I got my recipe from a man from Deir El Qamar. It’s a basic white cheese recipe that is similar to a drier ricotta. The cheese is pressed and drained then cured shortly in brine which brings out all the flavors.
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White Baladi Goat Cheese
Makes 4 pieces
2kg Goat Milk
2kg Goat Yogurt
Prepare a cheese cloth by opening it over a strainer, or as we typically do in the Levant, open a clean pillow case
Boil a 2 liters of water with around 4-5 tablespoons of salt to make a salty brine and set aside to cool
In a large pot, bring the milk to a boil on medium heat. Keep a close eye not to scorch the milk
Gently tip the yogurt into the hot milk and stir three to five times
Lower the heat and bring to a boil without stirring
Once it starts to boil, turn off the heat and pour the mixture over inside the cheese cloth over a strainer. You can keep the whey and use in pancakes, or use again for ricotta (as found on the internet)
Squeeze the curds in the cloth and press over a perforated surface (a strainer works best) and weigh it down with something heavy (3kg and more). I used a kettle full of water but it wasn’t heavy enough. Be creative
Leave the cheese to strain for around 15-20 min acoording to your preferred texture
Remove the cheese from the cloth and cut into smaller sizes and transfer with the brine into sealable container and keep for 3 hours or overnight before eating it
The cheese will keep well in the fridge covered in its brine for 2-3 weeks, if it remains uneaten
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