Tawonga-Made Goat Cheese
By: Leora Cockrell, Farm & Garden Supervisor
“How many of you have made cheese before?” the Bunk of B-5 was asked as they sat in the outdoor garden kitchen, and a few hands went up. “How many of you are excited to make fresh goats cheese?” All hands went up.
For their third block of the day, B-5 was in for a treat! Starting in the garden they gathered to learn about the process of making cheese from fresh goat’s milk. Every morning the camp goat, named Mocha, is milked while her baby Valkyrie tags along to climb rocks. The fresh milk is then taken to the garden kitchen where it is made into cheese by campers. The first step is for campers to pour the milk into a pot.
As milk is heated by the farm supervisor, the campers are led by the farm coordinator through the garden to harvest fresh herbs for the goats. On their way over to the farm, the campers discussed the gifts that goats have to offer humans and the gifts we can offer goats in return – Milk! Cheese! Friendship! Water! Care! Food!
Returning to the garden, the campers safely gathered around the heated milk. One camper poured in vinegar while another stirred the pot. Together, they watched the magic of the curds separating from the whey.
“Wow, it smells so good,” one camper said. “That’s so cool!” said another.
The whey and curds were then strained into a cheese cloth, squeezed, salted and passed out to campers with a side of jam and dried herbs from the garden!
On a scale of 1-10, the average rating the campers gave the cheese was an eight and for most campers it was their first time eating fresh cheese they had made. One brave camper even tried the whey.
Making cheese with campers at Tawonga is a wonderful opportunity to have a hands-on experience with a more sustainable and caring food system. The campers meet the goat that provides the milk and practice the Jewish value of Za’ar Ba’aleyi Hayyim (preventing pain of living things). This value states that farmers must feed their animals before feeding themselves, and campers practice that by first feeding the goat herbs grown in the garden before eating cheese.
If you’d like to make your own fresh cheese with your campers at home, see the recipe below.
- Heat 2 quarts of fresh milk
- As soon as it boils, turn off the heat
- Add ¼ cup of vinegar to the milk and stir
- Once the curds (fat) have separated from the whey (liquid) strain through a cheesecloth
- Salt and serve with jam, crackers and dried herbs
- (Whey can be given to chickens)
Also, check out photos from this morning’s activities around Camp!