How to Make Andalusian Style Goat Milk Cheese

An introduction to the Andalusian style preparation of homemade goat milk cheese, including homemade rennet, the preservation of cheese, goat's milk by-products, and cheese cookery.


| July/August 1975



Milking goats for cheesemaking

Making cheese is like making bread: The feel — the liou, as they say here in Andalusia — has to be just right. And I was well on my way to the achievement of a proper queso de cabra or Andaluz goat's milk cheese, white as sun-bleached sheets.

PHOTO: FOTOLIA/SUSAN GODFREY

"We're making cheese now if you want to watch again," called my neighbor from the doorway. "And mama has to fix some new rennet you may like to see how we do that."

Making cheese is like making bread: The feel — the liou, as they say here in Andalusia — has to be just right. And I was well on my way to the achievement of a proper queso de cabra or Andaluz goat's milk cheese, white as sun-bleached sheets. I'd mastered the liou of the consistency reasonably well but only while relying on commercially prepared rennet. My neighbors Juana and Maria, however, made their own cheese "starter", and I was anxious to learn how. Here, for any of MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers who are interested, is a summary of the age-old lesson I was recently taught here in Spain.

How to Make Andalusian Goat Milk Cheese

Homemade Rennet

The first step in making any type of cheese is to curdle the milk. Many agents for this purpose exist, and the texture of the finished product is determined to a great extent by which one is used. Traditionally, Andalusian goat's milk cheese — just like many others — is curdled with a natural product called rennet.

To produce rennet, the stomach is removed from a freshly killed suckling kid or lamb which has eaten no grass or other solid food. The organ's opening is tied securely and the stomach is rolled in ashes to coat it well. It's then hung to dry away from the direct sun, generally from the roof beams of a thatched cottage or in the shade of a grape arbor, but any warm, moisture-free, well-aired place is adequate. When the sac has dried thoroughly, the milk within will have been reduced to a brown powder.

At cheese making time, a small amount of the powder (a little less than 1/4 teaspoonful) is pulverized in a mortar, mixed with enough water to make a paste, and then thinned slightly with more water. That smidgen of powdered rennet — diluted with about 3/4 cup of liquid in all — will start about 12 two-pound cheeses each made with eight quarts of barely warm goat's milk and one tablespoon of the thickening solution. If the curd turns out too soft or too hard, the amount of rennet is increased or decreased to correct the consistency. (Although methods vary considerably from one area to another, most Andaluz cheese makers prefer a firm mixture. You probably will too. Let experience be your guide.)

Homemade rennet yields a superior cheese, unfortunately, at a relatively high price (equal to the value of the young animal which must be slaughtered to obtain the agent). That's why more and more Andalusian cheese now is being made with commercial rennet, which — used according to the manufacturer's directions — will produce a curd of the desired consistency

blair johnson
11/19/2010 2:51:27 PM

I really enjoyed reading this article and a couple others about how to source your own rennet.Not Sure who wrote this... but the copyright is from 1993 and it has pretty much has the exact same wording,just words deleted and the details are takin out because the are not relevant to this other article. Im not Jo Ann Parvin, but if I was, I wouldn't like the fact that someone plagerized my work 18 years after the fact. I really dislike the fact that someone took the time to streamline and dumb down a well written article to make it look like their own. Just thought I'd let you at Mother Earth News now. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/My+experiences+with+rennet-a013559851 That is the link to the other article.






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