Our second Workaway experience is getting off to a brilliant start! Cheese, cheese and more cheese. Sorry, I mean fromage, fromage, fromage!
We are living in a small village in the Rhone Alps region of France. Volunteering for a young couple who have recently taken over the families goat farm. But more about Le Sappey, and goats later. Today I’m going to tell you all about FROMAGE. Specifically, Chevre Fromage. (Goats cheese)
As Dan goes off to milk the goats and give them their breakfast, I head down to the fromagery. The process of making fresh, unpasturised cheese is fairly simple and repeditive but all worth it in the end!
Not to bore you readers, I’ll give a very brief summary of how the cheese is made, I find it interesting… so maybe you will too, if not, scroll down to the pictures and see the cheese in stages!
First step is to cool the fresh milk down to 21 degrees. When the milk first comes in, straight from the titty- it’s around 25 degrees.
Second step is to add the enzyme. The enzyme they use for their goats milk comes from inside the stomach of a calf, (this is where you consider becoming a vegetarian.) about 1cm of enzyme is added per 8-10 litres.
Then you leave the enzyme to work its magic… and turn that creamy milk into cheese! This takes around 24 hours for the whey to seperate from the cheese.
A technique they use to speed up the separation of the whey and cheese is to cut a cross in the cheese after 8 hours. This causes the whey to rise through the cheese. (The pigs have bread soaked in whey for breakfast!)
The goats are milked April-November. In April they produce 3 litres of milk each, now, in November, half of them are pregnant so only 20 litres is being produced overall. However, this milk is richer so a smaller amount is needed in each mould in order for the cheese to be the right size.
So, first you spoon out the whey for the pigs.
(The towns celebratory dinner in 10 days! Again…you consider being a vegetarian.)
Then you divide the top of the cheese, which is the best part, equally between all the moulds.
Next, you take one full spoonfull of the of the cheese.
Thirdly, you mix the remaining whey and cheese together, and spoon this into the moulds to the desired height. (This height is altered throughout the milking season to accomodate the changing richness of the milk.)
Then the cheese is salted on both sides.
To make soft cheese- or a garlic & herb ricotto style cheese- you put into a cheese cloth and leave to drip for 5 hours.
The fromage in stages.
This is a taller mould.
3-4 days old
4-5 days old
9 days old
This one is the best. So creamy with a harder crust.
6 months old
We spent an hour each week cutting the worms out of these 6 month old cheeses. Only TRUE cheese lovers will go for this cheese. The taste is much like the smell of the buck- Yoda.
So that’t it! Fromage Chevre in a nutshell. But to try this amazing cheese, you must come to FRANCE! The home of delicious cheese!