1 Gallon of Milk (Not UltraPasteurized)
1 Packet C20G Chevre Culture
1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt or Cheese Salt
2-3 Garlic Cloves
1.5-2 Tbs Toasted Black Peppercorns
1/4 tsp Calcium Chloride (for pasteurized milk)
What To Do
1. If you are using pasteurized milk, add about 1/8-1/4 tsp of Calcium Chloride at this point. The first step is to heat and acidify the milk. So let’s begin by heating the milk to 86F. To do this, place the milk in a container and then place it in a large pot of very warm water. If you heat it on the stove, be sure to heat it slowly and stir it as it heats if you heat it on the stove.
Once you are done heating the milk, you can add the culture. The powder can become very cakey and sink in clumps so to prevent this, sprinkle the culture over the surface of the milk and then let it sit for a couple of minutes. This allows the powder to re-hydrate before you stir it in. After stirring, let the milk sit for a further 30 minutes so that the culture can get to work.
2. Now you just need to let the milk sit at room temperature for 12-14 hours. The temperature is bound to drop during this time. If you are making this recipe in the winter, it is best to keep the pot covered with towels or a blanket to keep it from getting cool. The best time to make this recipe is in the evening because the curds will be ready to drain in the morning and can be draining whilst you’re busy at work or doing other things.
The milk sugar is converted into lactic acid while the bacteria in the culture works. This increases the acidity of the milk and eventually causes the milk to form the curd.
The rennet also helps coagulate the milk. The milk will thicken into a gel-like texture after a few hours but really needs more time to become properly firm. The finished curd will begin to show whey rising to the surface.
3. The next task is to separate the whey and curds.
To begin, line the sanitized colander with the cheesecloth in preparation for draining. If you want to save the whey for cooking or other things, just drain it all into another pot.
The curds are now ready to be transferred to the draining cloth.
Once the curds drain for a short time, the cloth can be gathered, tied securely and hung for the final drainage. You can do this overnight or for several hours, depending on how dry you want the final cheese to be.
4. Now is the time to add the salt and garlic. Once the curd has fully dried, you can blend the salt and garlic into the curds.
Use around 2-3 cloves of garlic chopped into small pieces. Now add them to a mortar along with 1.5 tsp of the Himalayan pink salt, then crush them with the pestle making a uniform paste.
The drained curds will look like dough.
Transfer the curd to a bowl along with the salt/garlic paste, then begin mashing the curds and paste uniformly using a large spoon. Now allow this to sit as you prepare the black pepper coating.
5. Grind the toasted peppercorns to a medium-fine size. Spread them out evenly on a cookie sheet or your counter if you don’t mind making a mess.
6. Once everything is blended and mashed, you can take a small handful of the cheese and form it into a ball like a snowball.
The one-gallon batch should make around 5-6 balls which are slightly larger than golf ball sized cheeses. All you have to do is roll the cheese around in the ground pepper surface that you have prepared.
The cheese will still be tender due to high moisture, so handle it carefully as you transfer it to the drying mat.
7. You can now dry the cheese out before it is placed into the cave. This can be one by placing it in a room at about 50-60F and a moisture of 65-70% moisture. A fan can also be set at a low/medium speed to increase the rate of moisture released.
The reason for all this is to produce a firm, dry crust. This will become a lighter color as it dries. The pepper coating will keep the surface free of mold.
8. Aging can now finally begin. The cheese can go to the cave with about 52-56F temperature and 75-80% moisture. The higher moisture helps the aging of the cheese as it continues to dry to the center and achieve a uniform moisture that will be perfect for use as thin shavings.
The final cheese will be ready in 4-6 weeks but will continue to improve in flavor for a few months.