March 12, 2018

Cheesemaking: Farmhouse Sage

Aged goat milk cheese made with fresh sage herb.

Last year my cheesemaking focused first on mozzarella and then on experimenting with fresh (farmer's) cheeses, feta, and paneer. Just as I was getting going I had to dry up the girls in preparation for this year's kidding.

Because of our hot summers, it's easiest to make and eat fresh cheeses as we need them. Consequently I don't make a lot of hard cheeses to wax and age. Last year I only made one, this farmhouse sage. The other day we sliced it open and gave it a try. Oh my, was it delicious! I was concerned that the fresh herb might not have preserved very well, but it did just fine, giving the cheese a nice marbled appearance. I had to get a photo, quick, because it won't last long!

Here's the recipe. I used goats' milk because I have goats, but you could substitute cows' milk.

Farmhouse Sage Cheese
  • 1 gallon milk (not ultra-pasteurized, preferably raw)
  • 1/4 cup fresh kefir (or use your favorite starter culture)
  • 1/32 tsp powdered calf rennet (I use WalcoRen) 
  • 1 tsp non-chlorinated water
  • 1 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tbsp canning, kosher, or cheese salt

Pour boiling water over sage leaves and set aside. Heat milk to 90°F (32°C), then stir in kefir. Let the milk culture for about an hour, maintaining the same temperature. Mix rennet with the non-chlorinated water and stir to dissolve. Stir carefully and thoroughly into the milk. Let sit one hour or until clean break, then cut curd into 1-inch size cubes. Drain and add the sage and water to the curds. Stir gently to mix. Drain curds and pack them into a large butter muslin lined mold. Press. For the first couple hours or so flip the cheese about every half-hour. Gradually increase the press weight.

The next day remove the cheese from the press and rub surface with 1 tablespoon salt. Set out to air and turn occasionally. Repeat the next day with the second tablespoon of salt, and let air dry until the surface has a dry rind. Wax and store between 45-60°F (7-15°C) turning daily for the first week then weekly after that.

I made my cheese early last November so it cured for four months. Definitely a keeper.

Cheesemaking: Farmhouse Sage © March 2018  


Susan said...

Just looking at that photograph made my mouth water! I love sage - I think sage and thyme are my favorite herbs. I might get back to cheese making this spring.

hoosier girl said...

Thank you! This sounds so yummy- I bookmarked it!

Living Alone in Your 60's said...

That is lovely looking cheese. I love cheese and I have to ration myself.

Theresa said...

A lovely looking cheese, pity I can't reach out with my knife and swipe a slice!

Michelle said...

Thank you for sharing this recipe. I love fresh cheese, but have only dabbled in making my own. Yours looks wonderful!

Ed said...

I'm not a very cheesy person but that cheese looks delicious!

Debby Riddle said...

Wow good job!

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

That sage cheese sure looks good. I am beginning to think you are wonder woman with all you do, especially with Dan being laid up. Nancy

The Wykeham Observer said...

That is a beautiful cheese. Starting to look like a cottage industry in the making, or at least to think about. Let's see, "Leigh's Farmhouse Herb Cheese and Norwegian-style Brown Goat Cheese. Inquire Within." What is life without some dreams? Phil

Leigh said...

Susan, the addition of the sage worked really well. I told Dan I'll have to try some other herbs this cheesemaking season. :)

Hoosier Girl, it's a keeper!

Tania, I have to ration this too, but only because there's only so much of it! Hopefully this year I'll be able to make enough to always have some on hand.

Theresa, that's the only down side of virtual food! LOL

Michelle, it' actually easy to add flavorings to cheese. I tried pepper cheese too and that did very well. The herbs will be fun to experiment with.

Nancy, well, I made this last year so the only work involved was cutting it with a knife! :)

Thanks Phil! Dan has mentioned that from time to time too, i.e. starting a cheese business. My response is always, "then I'd need more goats for more milk." Actually I wouldn't mind more goats, but we just don't have enough land.

M.K. said...

That does look amazing, Leigh! What a delight to cut that open, and discover such beautiful cheese!

Leigh said...

Ed, I seem to have jumped around in answering comments. I'm glad a not very cheesy person thinks it looks good!

Debby, thanks!

M.K. I always hold my breath when I cut them open, especially waxed ones. It's always a relief to see it look so pretty inside! It's even better when it tastes great!

Kris said...

Beautiful looking cheese, Leigh. I can practically smell the sage from here. From the slice marks, it looks very creamy. Looking forward to your future herb cheese adventures!

Leigh said...

Kris, thanks! It's interesting that it isn't particularly sagey. You're right, it has an excellent texture. Looking forward to experimenting with other herbs!

Rain said...

Thank you for the recipe Leigh. My cheesemaking came to a halt after the last Cheddar fails. I got a little discouraged. I think though, I'm going to stick to the soft cheeses for now until I have better equipment. Yours looks fabulous!

Leigh said...

Rain, I can relate! My first 30 or so hard cheeses mostly ended up being fed to the chickens and pigs. So I switched to soft and fresh pressed cheeses too. The sage cheese was a bold step! But I think I figured out how to cure without a cheese cave and hope that will be key to future successes.

Rain said...

Where/How did you cure it? I had mine in the bar fridge at 10C. It cured fine, but the tastes weren't very good after all. Maybe it was my recipe, they were so sour.

Sandy Livesay said...

One day I will make cheese. My downfall, eating homemade cheese...? that's why I have to lose weight.... LOL😃