The Cheese-Making Journey
After months of preparation and years of study, we are making our own cheese. To start things off, we made some soft, fresh, goat’s milk cheese (or “chevre”). This cheese does not need to age so we already have it in our shop.
Though our chevre does not age, it does take a few days to make. We get milk delivered on Saturday mornings from Hinz Sight Dairy in Allegheny County. Once we’ve tested the milk to ensure it is clean, safe, and antibiotic free, the fun begins! The milk is transferred from the delivery truck into our pasteurizing vat via a series of pipes. No heavy lifting for us yet! In the vat, we pasteurize the milk by heating it to 145 degrees for 30 minutes. This temperature kills anything bad but does not totally strip the milk of its taste and character like commercial pasteurization tends to do. Once the milk is pasteurized, we add cultures to give the cheese the lovely buttery texture we want and rennet to inspire coagulation – when the curds separate from the whey. Then we wait.
Once the curd has formed (usually Sunday morning) and the acidity is at the right level, we cut the curds. Then, we shovel the curds into cheese cloth bags and hang them up to dry. Now that is some heavy lifting! Have no fear: the whey does not go to waste – we give it to a local pig farmer to feed to his animals. They seem quite taken with it! Once the curds are dry (usually Monday morning), we take down the mercifully lighter and dryer bags and move the curds to the mixer to be salted and blended. We now have cheese. The next step is flavoring it. We aim to create exciting new flavors that enhance, not obfuscate, our cheese’s natural taste. We also want to use the flavors of the region, incorporating such local tastes as maple cream, black garlic, Green Heron’s shitake mushrooms, and more. Once the flavor is perfect, we package up the cheese and are ready to sell it. There are many hoops to jump through to turn the fresh raw goat’s milk into the tasty cheese in our shop, but it’s so worth it!