Flavor Infusions for Goat Milk Cheeses
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Whether you’re making soft or hard goat milk cheeses, sometimes you want to spice things up a bit with some different flavors, textures, and colors. There are a number of ways to add flavors to cheeses to make them even more festive and delicious.
Here are three main ways that I like to add flavors to my goat cheese:
- Flavor Infusions
- Flavoring the Curds
- Rind Treatments
This is like making a flavored “tea” and is a nice way to infuse a subtle flavor into your cheeses without making the flavor overpowering or changing the appearance of the final cheese very much. Simply put your dried herbs, spices, or seeds into the hot water (1-2 Tbsp per cup of non-chlorinated water) and let it steep for 30 minutes or so. Then strain the liquid into the milk before adding the rennet. Here are some fun recipes you can try the next time you make cheese:
Spicy Farmer – 1 Tbsp dried hot peppers rehydrated in 1 cup of non-chlorinated hot water. Feel free to add other ground, dried spices to the water as well. Strain the liquid into your cultured milk and then proceed with the recipe.
Spanish Smoked Paprika and Garlic – Blend 2 tsp paprika and 1/8 – 1/4 tsp garlic powder into 1 cup non-chlorinated hot water. Strain liquid through cheesecloth into the cultured milk and proceed. NOTE: This combination may make for a slightly red-colored cheese!
Coffee Beans and Chocolate: Grind about 1½ Tbsp coffee beans (can use flavored beans if desired). Brew the coffee beans in about 1 cup of non-chlorinated water. Strain off and reserve the infused water. While hot, sprinkle in about 2 tsp of dark cocoa powder (careful as it will tend to lump). After the chocolate is incorporated, add the infused water to the cultured milk and continue with the recipe.
Add Flavors to Curds:
Another point at which you can add flavors to your cheeses is once you have curds. For a soft cheese like chevre, this would be after you have drained your curds. You can add dried herbs and spices or even fruit, jams, or honey to the cheese and then shape it into a log or blend it together with a little extra milk or cream and serve it as a spread.
For a hard cheese, you can add dried flavorings such as seeds, nuts, dried herbs or spices, and even ground coffee directly to the curds before they go into the cheese press. You can also soak these curds in a flavor infusion or alcohol before pressing into a wheel.
Here are some nice ideas for flavoring hard cheeses:
Beer or Wine Infused Cheese: Make your cheese to the point that curds are drained and ready for putting into forms. Pour alcohol over curds (for a 1 gallon batch of curds, use about 1–2 cups alcohol, or enough to completely cover the curds). Allow curds to soak for about 30 min. Then fill the form and press as described in your recipe.
Toasted Cumin Cheese: Toast 1 tsp of whole cumin seeds per gallon of milk/curds in a dry skillet or hot oven until just toasty and aromatic. Then add the seeds directly to the curds and blend thoroughly before putting the curds into the cheese form for pressing.
Prepared Herb Blends: Use ½ to 1 tsp of a prepared herb blend such as Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic or any other no-salt herbed mix per gallon of milk/curds. Microwave the herbs or boil in water for 1 minute to be sure they are sterilized. Just before adding the curds to the form for pressing, thoroughly blend the herb mix into the curds.
This method of flavoring is mainly used for hard, pressed cheeses. It involves adding some kind of flavor to the rind of the cheese and for the most part, it will impart the majority of its flavor on the outer edge as opposed to throughout the cheese. You can do this by applying a dry rub, a wet rub, or by soaking the wheel of cheese. Here is an example of each:
Dry Rosemary Rub — Once your wheel of cheese is pressed, brined and has air-dried for a day or two, slather a generous amount of coconut oil, lard, or shortening on the outer edge of the wheel of cheese. Then press dried, crushed rosemary into the oiled rind, patting it to help it adhere to the oil. I like to vacuum-seal these cheeses to age them so that the flavor is intensified without having molds grow into the flavored rind.
Wet Cocoa Chile Rub: Once your wheel of cheese is pressed, brined, and has air dried for a day or two, prepare a rub of 1 Tbsp cocoa powder with 1 tsp of chile powder. Add just enough olive oil to make the powder the consistency of very thick frosting. Then slather this mixture onto the outer edges of the wheel of cheese much like frosting a cake. I like to vacuum seal these cheeses to age them so that the flavor is intensified without having molds grow into the flavored rind.
Boozy Rind: Once your wheel of cheese is pressed, brined, and has air dried for one day, place the entire wheel in a container of wine, beer, or other spirit such as bourbon. Allow the alcohol to soak into the wheel for 24 hours, then remove and air dry for 24 hours. You can do this process one more time if you want a more concentrated flavor in the rind that will also begin to permeate the cheese itself.
There are many soft and hard cheeses that lend themselves well to flavoring. By adding flavors to your cheese in a variety of different ways, you can transform one recipe into many different cheeses!
Originally published in the July/August 2021 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.