Spring Goat Cheese with Flowers!
Reading Time: 5 minutes
It’s spring! That means baby goats, fresh milk, and flowers. After several months with the does being pregnant and dry, followed by a couple more months with the new babies drinking most of the milk, it’s finally my turn to make some of that delicious fresh goat milk into fresh goat cheese. And since it’s also the time of year when flowers are in full bloom, why not combine the two?
Many flowers are edible and can be used fresh or dried in various ways with your homemade cheeses. Most folks are familiar with a few of the more common types of edible flowers, such as roses, lavender, and pansies. But many other flowers are also edible, including those blooming on your herb and vegetable plants. For instance, basil, dill, mint, thyme, and even broccoli produce beautiful flowers that you can add to a salad, homemade crackers, or cheese. And don’t forget nasturtiums, cosmos, cornflowers, marigolds, and many others, too.
Which cheeses work best with flowers?
In the spring, I like to make a lot of fresh cheeses now that the fresh milk is flowing again. And that includes chèvre, fromage blanc, ricotta, paneer, and cottage cheese, to name a few. All of these cheeses will be amplified and made more festive with the addition of some colorful fresh blooms, maybe even combined with some fresh herbs or wildflower honey. You can crumble dried flowers onto or into the cheese or use the flowers fresh. To adhere fresh flowers to the surface of fresh cheese, press them first (see tips below) and then lay the flowers on the cheese surface in the design you want. Cover the design with a tight layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or until you are ready to serve the cheese. When you remove the wrap, the flowers will remain firmly in place.
You can also press dried edible flowers onto the rind of Brie, Camembert, or other bloomy rind cheese and let the rind bloom right around the blossoms. And if you’re ready to make some aged cheeses, try pressing dried flowers onto the rind and then vacuum-sealing the wheel so that the cheese can age without mold growing into the flowery rind.
Another option for using flowers with cheese is simply as a decoration. Whether on a pretty cheese board or a waxed wheel of cheese, flowers can add a breath of spring to your cheese presentation. My friend, Joe Heyen, lives in Estes Park, Colorado, and often finds pretty wildflowers on his hikes. He gathers these and presses them between two sheets of waxed paper with a weight on top until he’s ready to use them. Then he waxes his wheels of cheese with two coats of clear or colored wax, places some pressed flowers on the surface, and then covers them with a final coat of clear wax to hold them on.
How to dry and press your own flowers:
If you have more fresh blooms than you can use at one time, you can dry them to use later in the year. If you don’t have a dehydrator, try these simple techniques. Make sure only to use edible flowers that have not been sprayed with chemicals or pesticides.
- Wash flowers with cold water and allow them to dry completely.
- Spread flowers on a layer of clean paper towels, leaving them to dry for a day or two.
- Once completely dry, you can store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark location.
- You can leave them whole or crumble them up before you store them. Just be sure they are completely dry before you store them, or they will get moldy and mildewy.
- You can press fresh flowers between two sheets of wax paper with a weight on top, and either use them fresh or let them dry.
- You can dry full bouquets by tying the stems together and hanging them upside down in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area for two to three weeks.
If you don’t want to grow and dry your edible flowers, there are many online websites where you can order them as well.
Fresh Goat Cheese with Lemon Zest, Fresh Herbs, and Flowers
- Heat 1 gallon of pasteurized milk to 72 degrees F in a large stainless-steel pot.
- Sprinkle 1/8 tsp Mesophilic culture onto the milk. Let sit for a few minutes to rehydrate and then stir in. Let “ripen” at room temperature for two hours.
- Dilute two drops of rennet in ¼ cup non-chlorinated water and then stir gently into ripened milk.
- Cover pot and let sit at room temp for 18-24 hours.
- Gently ladle the curds into a fine cheesecloth (butter muslin). Tie up cloth and hang over a sink or on the handle inside a large pot for 12 hours.
- Unwrap the cheese and blend with some lemon zest, finely chopped basil, and the flowery blooms from the basil plant. Gently mix these into the cheese along with a touch of sea salt.
- Form into a disk and top with a fresh edible flower. You can leave the flower in its natural shape or press it and then cover it with plastic wrap to adhere it to the cheese.
Option: For a sweet touch, you can add a bit of wildflower honey into the wheel along with everything else.
Originally published in the May/June 2022 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.