At 4:30pm as promised we were given the milking rundown and introduced to the milking goats: Sassy, Indiana (Indy), and Strawberry. The girls were always milked in the same order, which they had chosen, and they were not only practiced but eager to get on with it as was made clear by the forceful bleating that marked our arrival to the barn. Sassy, who was aptly named, hopped up on the platform in milking stance and after a short demonstration it was time to get to work. It was initially intimidating with Sassy’s low groans marking her dissatisfaction at my slow and unskilled attempts to relive her udder. But with a little practice and a lot of goat patience, the milk was retrieved and the udders were relieved, until the next morning at 6AM when it was to happen all over again.
Later on that evening we began the cheese class. Using the unpasteurized milk fresh from the girls we began the incredibly simple and rewarding task of making chevre, a mild and soft goat cheese. This first step included bringing 1 gallon of milk up to 86ºF in a double boiler, adding chevre culture and rennet, and then letting the cheese sit undisturbed for 12 hours.
The final chevre was light and delicate in flavour, not at all like the pungent and often sour goat cheese I have had in the past. It was delightful with the butternut squash soup Kevin made for us one evening, and equally as nice with the Fig Brandy & Honey Mandarin Preserves I made this summer served on a little toasted ciabatta. It was not much fun to travel around with for another 10 days, and we couldn’t finish the entire pound of cheese before it expired, but the flavour was so creamy and fresh that it just cannot compare to much of what I have bought in the past. With my new skills in hand, I’ve ordered my own supplies of rennet and enzymes to try the whole thing again in my Vancouver kitchen. Now I just need to find some sassy goats in need of milking.