Cheesemaking: How To Make Cabra Al Vino



What You Need

3 Gallons of Goat’s Milk (not Ultra-Pasteurized)
1/8 tsp MA4002 Culture*
1/8 tsp Single Strength Liquid Rennet
Cheese Salt
Salt Brine
Calcium Chloride (for pasteurized milk)

What To Do

1. The first step is to heat and acidify the milk. So let’s begin by heating the milk to 95F 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.

After heating the milk, the culture can be added. 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 hour so that the culture can get to work.

2. After an hour of ripening, add 1/8 tsp. single strength liquid rennet. Stir the rennet in for about a minute in a slow up and down motion. The rennet will begin to coagulate the curd, let it sit for 90 minutes. You will see the milk thicken after around 40-45 minutes, but it still needs the full 90 minutes for a proper curd to form.

One way to check for a good curd, insert a knife into the curd at a 45-degree angle and lift slowly until the curd breaks. The edges should break cleanly and the whey that will rise should be clear, not cloudy.

3. It is now time to cut the curds and cook them. Cut the curd vertically in both directions, at about 3/4-1/2 inch then let it sit for 5 minutes.

The second cut should be horizontal with a spoon or flat ladle and then cut slowly to a pea size, taking about 10 minutes.

Remove 30% of the whey after allowing the curd to settle.

Add back some water at a temperature of 110F slowly to heat curds to 97F over 10 minutes.

Stir the curd for 30-40 minutes to achieve a moderately firm curd.

The final curds should be cooked well through. Examine them to make sure enough moisture has been removed. A broken curd should be firm throughout and the curds should have a moderate resistance when you press them in between your fingers.

The curds should be allowed to settle under the whey when this point has reached.

4A. The basket molds which should have been previously sanitized can now be put on a draining surface but with no cloth.

Remove the whey down to just above the curd surface and begin transferring the curds to the molds. Use moderate hand pressure for a firm pack into the molds.

You should stack the two molds for a moderate amount of weight.

Continue to do this for 30 minutes with no cloth and weight by simply reversing and restacking the molds after 15 minutes.

4B. After 30 minutes, turn the cheese in the molds with no cloth.

Now stack 2 high and weight at 5-7lbs for 30 minutes. Turn in the molds and re-wrap in cloth using the same weight and time as above.

Make sure you keep the curd warm at 75-80F. You can do this by insulating with a thick towel. This needs to be done because the bacteria are still working and producing acid from the remaining lactose.

Turn the cheese again in the cloth and stack the molds 2 high, weighted at 15lbs. Turn and re-wrap at 30-minute intervals for the next 4 hours.

You can now press the cheese for about 5 hours and by this time it should have reached its final acid level and moisture. If you have a pH meter, the final reading should show 5.2. Remove the weights when it reads this and you will now be ready to salt the cheese in a brine bath.

5. Now it is time for the salting. So, remove the cheese from the cloth and they will be ready to go into the brine at 52F.

The final cheese weight will be approximately 1.5lbs each which makes the final brine time 5.5 hours.

You will need a saturated brine prepared for salting the cheese, here is a simple brine formula:

– 1 gallon of water
– 2.25 lbs of salt
– 1tbs. calcium chloride
– 1 tsp. white vinegar
– Bring the brine and cheese to 50-55°F before using.

The cheese will float above the surface so please be sure to sprinkle a small amount of salt on top of the cheese surface. Flip the cheese halfway through the brine period and sprinkle some salt on the other surface too.

Wipe down the surface at the end of the brine period and let the surface dry for a day or two at around 52F and 85% moisture.

6. It is now time to finish this cheese with a traditional twist. You will soak the cheese in wine for several days which will increase the surface acidity substantially and make it less hospitable for mold growth and hence less work in the aging room.

Two pieces of cheese will fit comfortably in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag and a small amount of wine will do just fine to soak the cheese in. Be sure to squeeze out the excess air and zip the bag closed.

Wash the surface with the light brine to remove any surface mold that developed and rehydrate the surface, before you soak the cheese in wine.

A Vino is recommended for this, Petit Sirag grape in particular. Use about 12-16 ozs of the wine and then you can happily drink the rest.

Pour the wine into the bag with the cheese and then squeeze the air out before sealing the bag.

After soaking, you can age the cheese in the bag in an aging room at 52F for 36 hours, turning several times.

Now you can remove the cheese from the bag, wipe down the surface and dry it off for 24 hours. Allow for the first dose of wine to migrate into the cheese before the second wine soaking.

Finally, repeat the wine soak for another 48 hours and turn it regularly.

7. After all the soaking, age the cheese at 52-56F and 80-85% moisture.

Age the cheese for 4-6 weeks at which point, it will be ready to consume.

There will be very little mold growth on the surface.

A fine dusting of white mold shows up every 3 or so days, it will just need a quick cloth wipe to remove it.


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