Soap Making Notes – Full Flock Soap with Marigold & Mulberry

Goat milk soap (cold process) made with calendula (marigold) infused oil and dried mulberry powder/ mulberry seed as an exfoliantDSC_0515

  • 1oz Lanolin
  • 2oz Castor Oil
  • 4oz Shea Butter
  • 4oz Cocoa Butter
  • 8oz Coconut Oil
  • 14oz Olive Oil (infused with dried calendula)
  • 4.5oz Lye
  • 9oz frozen goat milk
  • 4T dried mulberry powder & seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ylang ylang essential oil
  • dried calendula petals and mulberry powder for topping


To make the infused olive oil I soaked dried calendula petals in olive oil for about 2 weeks and then strained out most of the plant material. I left some of the petals as an experiment to see what they are like in the soap– mostly they seem to have been dissolved by the lye but some may remain to provide extra exfoliating.

The mulberry powder/seeds were made by crushing ripe mulberries from our mulberry bush, pressing out the juice and then drying in the dehydrator. Once the mash was completely dry I powdered it in a spice grinder. The fleshy part turned into a fine powder but the seeds kept their shape. The seeds remind me of poppy seeds and will be a nice exfoliant. Those are the dark specks you can see in the soap. I had hoped that the mulberry powder would turn the oil pink but as you can see it didn’t have any affect on the color of the soap. Next I think I’ll try infusing oil with mulberries to see if I can extract the color that way.


Most of the soap went into a 2 lb loaf mold but I put a little bit in a single-bar sheep mold as an experiment to see how this soap recipe works in fancy molds.

Montasio Cheese

Well I’m not at all sure how this is going to turn out but..we’ll see!  Today I decided to try a new cheese- Montasio. It is an aged Italian and much different to make than my usual chevre. I was feeling a bit absented minded today and may not have gotten all the details just right, so I only hope it turns out edible– I’d hate to waste a full week’s worth of milk. The curds ended up a little different than I expected- stuck together in big blobs- but I don’t have enough experience with Italian cheeses to know if that is how its supposed to be! Due to my absentmindedness I didn’t take as many pictures or notes as I meant to, but we’ll muddle through anyway.


Step 1: Feed Goat

For this cheese I needed 4 gallons of milk, which means I’ve been saving milk for over a week. The fridge was getting very full!

millk goat

Step 2: Milk Goat

This cheese recipe involved a lot of heating the milk up to a certain temp and then waiting, and then heating it to another very specific temperature, stirring it just the right amount and waiting some more. Which is to say, its a lot like making any aged cheese.

Curds & Whey Curds & WheyPressing Cheese

I’ll let it press under 8lb over night and then tomorrow I’ll put it in a brine bath for 12 hours, dry it at room temp for a day and then pop it in the cheese cave (i.e. wine cooler) for a couple of weeks. Eventually it’ll get a lovely coat of honey and several more weeks of aging. The toughest part of making an aged cheese is waiting a month or two before being able to sample it! Since I’m making two rounds, I may only use the honey rub on one and try something different on the other. A Chipotle rub is also traditional, and an herb rub could be interesting…


UPDATE: I used a recipe from this book. I’ve come to find out that this recipe is very different from a traditional Montasio in several key ways so the combination of the unusual recipe and some mistakes that I made (like not cutting my curds into small enough pieces) means that I did not, in fact, create a Montasio cheese. I made…something else. We’ll just have to hope its something yummy.

Chocolate Pudding with Goat Milk


Sometimes I think we get so used to making things out of boxes that we don’t realize how EASY it is to make them from scratch. Like pudding. I’ve always used those little boxes of pudding mix from the grocery store. But making it “from scratch” is so simple there isn’t any reason not to! I’m always looking for new ways to use goat milk, of course, and tonight I was crazing chocolate so I thought, “I know, I’ll make pudding” but when I went to the pantry we only had boxes of vanilla and pistachio pudding mix. Both are lovely, but I wanted chocolate. I briefly considered just adding some cocoa powder to the vanilla mix but then decided to look online for a recipe….


I ended up using this very simple, basic recipe except that since I could only find unsweetened baking chocolate in the pantry I added an extra 1/4 cup of sugar. It turned out great! To be honest I don’t think you’d ever suspect that there was goat milk in it rather than cow milk but the flavor is very rich and creamy which I suspect is due to it being whole, raw milk rather than commercial milk. Of course, the quality of the chocolate also makes a huge difference since that is where most of your flavor is coming from. Since I happen to have a bunch of flavored simple syrups on hand, I dribbled some mint syrup on top of my bowl full of pudding and it was amazing. I left the storage bowl plain though so now every time I have a bowl I can experiment with a different flavor or enjoy it plain!

Frozen vs Fresh Chevre Comparison

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth batches of chevre, both made with fresh raw milk but one with proportionally more rennet, were ready to eat today so I did a side by side comparison. The difference is amazing. You can see some of the textural differences in the photo above but its actually much more dramatic in person.The batch with less rennet (proportionally) than the recipe called for turned out great. It can smoothly be spread on bread or a cracker or pressed into a log. Herbs and spices can easily be mixed in with a fork. It is a bit too soft to be crumbled onto a salad like feta, but since I mostly eat it spread on crackers or veggies I prefer it on the soft side!


The over ripened batch with too much rennet is very firm- almost the texture of a grocery store cheddar. I put a portion of it in a mold when it was draining and this small round sliced smoothly and was actually quite nice in a caprese salad. The unmolded curds are very strange, though. They are somewhat like the squeaky cheese curds you can sometimes find sold as “Cheese Curds” but the flavor is a bit sour and the texture isn’t very palatable. It does not spread at all but thankfully it does melt and is nice melted on a piece of toast or crumbled on top of hot stew. It would also probably work well in a melted dip. Because of the sourness of the flavor, it is best mixed with other flavors that balance it out.

The over ripened batch will not go to waste, but I’m very relieved to have discovered why my chevre was turning out so firm as of late so that I can go back to my soft, spreadable chevre!


Related Posts: Frozen vs Fresh Chevre, Fresh Chevre Update


Fresh Chevre

Chevre with a proper amount of ripening

Chevre with a proper amount of ripening

After yesterday’s disappointing batch of chevre I was eager to get another batch started and have a success this time.

Chevre Experiment #1 : 1 gallon of fresh, unfrozen milk milked within the last 3-4 days with one packet of rennet/culture mix PLUS an additional 4 cups of frozen milk

Results: I had a much more appropriate amount of ripening with this batch. My curds and whey still separated nicely. I started seeing effects within an hour of adding the culture and after about 8 hours it looked about done, to me.


In this photo you should be able to see how the overly ripened batch formed a very clear separation between the curds (solid) and whey (clear liquid). The curds have dropped down about half an inch below the surface of the whey. The new batch doesn’t have as definite a separation. The curds are still nicely formed but haven’t sunk completely- there are just pools of whey forming on the surface and around edges. I like a soft, spreadable chevre rather than something crumbly like feta, though I have seen both types sold as “chevre”. Therefore, I prefer for my curds to not be too firm. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The difference is easier to see once I start cutting and scooping out the curds as well as when the curds have just been poured into the cheesecloth lined strainer to drain.



I’ll have to wait a few more hours for it to finish draining and refrigerate a bit before the two finished cheeses are ready to be compared side by side.

Frozen vs. Fresh Milk for Chevre


Over ripened batch of chevre made from fresh milk with too much rennet and culture

For a while, each batch of Chevre I made got better and better until I was consistently getting a great texture and flavor. I was in goat cheese heaven! But a couple of weeks ago my batches kept going wrong. Not horribly terribly wrong, just not quite right. One batch had an obvious cause– the burner under it accidentally got turned on, boiling my curds when they should have been resting at room temperature. Other than that one batch, though, I couldn’t figure out the problem. My curds were turned hard and squeaky and the flavor was more sour than before.

And then I realized what had changed.

When I first started milking Ivy I wasn’t separating her babies at night and so I was only getting a couple of cups, at the most, at each milking. Since I need at least a gallon of milk for a batch of cheese, it took a while to accumulate enough. Being new to raw milk I wasn’t sure how long it was okay for it to sit in the fridge before being used so I started freezing any milk that I wasn’t going to be using for drinking within the next day or two. Therefore, all of my initial batches of chevre were made with milk that had been frozen. Several weeks ago I started separating the kids at night and started getting about 8 cups of milk each morning, plus up to 4 in the evening. At this rate, I have enough for a batch of cheese within 2 days and no need to freeze unless I know I won’t be making cheese for a while. So my last several batches of chevre have used all fresh, never been frozen milk. Its still the same milk though, right?

Not quite.

The freezing must kill off some of the active enzymes (or something?) in the raw milk making it more like pasteurized milk (at least, where cheese making is concerned). Most cheese recipes are based on the assumption that you will be using pasteurized milk of some type since in most places in the US its very difficult- if not illegal- to purchase raw milk*.

Since I’d been freezing my milk, my chevre was turning out just fine using a recipe made for pasteurized milk. When I stopped freezing my milk, my recipe stopped working.


Turns out, if you use totally raw milk you are supposed to decrease the rennet added by up to 20%. Raw milk doesn’t need as much rennet added since it already has so many active enzymes. Temperatures should also be decreased by a few degrees. If you don’t make these changes, your cheese will “over ripen” and become too acidic, resulting in changes in texture (dryness or hardness) and flavor (sourness).

I’ve been using these handy chevre culture/rennet packets which are pre-measured so I can’t easily decrease the amount of rennet and culture that I’m using. For my first experiment, I am increasing the amount of milk instead. I only have a gallon of fresh milk on hand thanks to a hoof in the milk pail this morning, so I’m adding some frozen milk as well as fresh.

Chevre Experiment #1 : 1 gallon of fresh, unfrozen milk milked within the last 3-4 days with one packet of rennet/culture mix PLUS an additional 4 cups of frozen milk

Check back tomorrow to see what happens…




*I’ll type up my thoughts on raw vs pasteurized milk sometime soon, since it seems to be a hot topic of debate

Cold Brew Coffee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll summer I’ve been hearing people raving about cold brew coffee. Apparently its become quite the thing and I have to admit, it has a certain appeal to me. Since I mostly drink iced coffee in the summer and prepare it the night ahead anyway so that it can chill overnight the idea of having to start prepping cold brew doesn’t bother me. Its supposed to be less bitter than normal coffee and less acidic- both of which appeal to me. What has kept me from giving it a try is that it always seems so…complicated. A quick Google search brings up everything from the  Toddy Cold Brew System (which is apparently quite wonderful) to mad scientist looking equipment like this:

For a mere $300-$600…


And then there are the blog posts with recipes and instructions and ratios galore. I know how to make a pot of normal, hot coffee. Why make it anymore complicated? But over the weekend a friend shared his cold brew iced coffee with me and promised me that it was actually perfectly easy and didn’t require a bit of special equipment. So I decided to give it a try.

Guess what? It’s super easy.

Cold Brew Coffee Instructions

  1. Grind some coffee beans using a coarse grind (like you’d use in a French Press). All the blogs say that this is important but for my first batch I didn’t want to use the wonderful, local, artisan roasted, organic, fair trade coffee beans we had on hand so I pulled out a bag of pre-ground coffee I’d picked up at the grocery store. Its normal ground, not coarse, but guess what? I didn’t notice a problem. Next time I’ll grind my beans perfectly and we will see if its all sorts of better.
  2. Put your coffee in a jar. Add some water. Shake it together, put a lid on and put in the fridge. The amounts don’t have to be exact but I used 1/2 cup grounds to 2 cups water. I used a mason jar with measurements on the side so I measured right in my jar.
  3. Put it in the fridge and ignore for 12-24 hours.*
  4. Strain your coffee soup to remove the grounds**. I put a clean coffee filter in the coffee maker and poured the liquid directly into the basket and let it drain into the coffee pot. Just like making coffee the old fashioned way except I never pushed the “on” button.
  5. Once strained, pour it into a bottle to store in the fridge. To drink, pour your concentrate over ice and add milk and sugar. Its more concentrated than normal coffee so you may want to water it down a bit. Or just add some extra milk.

Remember my blog post about making iced coffee and how I talked about my coffee ice cubes, simple syrup and chocolate syrup? I use the cold brew coffee concentrate in the same “recipe” and its great.

Final Thoughts

Is this easy to do? Absolutely.

As easy as making a normal pot of coffee and then putting it in the fridge? Almost. The only difference is that I have to rinse out the jar that had all the coffee grounds on it rather than just dumping a coffee filter full of grounds into the compost bin. I hate it when I’m rinsing coffee grounds out of something and they get all over everything in the sink. It really makes my sink full of dirty pots and last weekend’s dinner plates look bad.

Does is taste any different? I think so. Mostly, I like that its more concentrated so I get more coffee flavor in my iced coffee without it tasting watered down.

Is it less bitter or acidic? I am not sure. I drink so much milk and sugar in my coffee its hard to tell. I wouldn’t taste the bitterness or acidity even if it was there. Maybe I’ll try it without all my coffee fixins’ as an experiment. It’s possible that if it is smoother I could do away with a bit of the sugar.

Questions I Still Have

What happens if I let the coffee grounds and water sit for longer? Do I get more concentrated flavors? Does it get nasty? Or does it just stay the same and all I’ve done is wasted time?

How long can the concentrate stay in the fridge after it is strained?

Does this brewing style affect the caffeine amount?

Is there a minimum amount of water: coffee necessary to get all the goodness out of the coffee? If I use less water will I get more concentrated coffee or will I just waste some of the coffee’s potential?

More thoughts on Cold Brew Coffee here


*I’ve heard you can let it sit out on the counter instead of in the fridge. I may try this sometime, but the benefit of putting it in the fridge is that its already cold so once you strain it you can drink it immediately.

**Lots of people use cheesecloth but as a cheese maker I get really tired of washing cheese cloth. Plus then I’d need designated coffee-cheese cloth and cheese-cheese cloth cause its would be weird if I mixed them up and got some weird cross contamination of flavors.

Butter Bummer

What is the simplest of cultured milk products to make? So simple that my mom teaches her preschoolers how to make it? Butter. You take cream and shake it around in a jar (or a blender) and “ta-da”, butter! How do you mess that up?


Mmmmm. Cream.

What I Did:

I used one pint of local, low temp pasteurized, non homogeonized cow cream left over from making cream cheese. I mixed in half a packet of buttermilk culture and let it ripen for about 12 hours, using this recipe. Then I took the ripened cream in a glass jar, at room temperature, and started shaking. And shaking. I got a lovely thick cream but…that’s it. So I shook some more. And then I put it in the blender. Still nothing but thick cream. I thought- maybe its gotten too warm with all that shaking, so I put it in the fridge. It got fairly firm- kind of like a margarine spread- but it hadn’t actually released any of its buttermilk. So I blended some more, and shook some more. And then got Chris to try shaking it in case I wasn’t shaking it well enough. I even tried straining it through cheesecloth but either nothing came out or I squeezed it and butter started leaking through the holes (i.e., still no separation).

Butter...sort of?

Butter…sort of?

What went wrong?

After doing some internet searching I discovered a couple of important things

1) if you use ripened cream rather than fresh or refrigerated cream, it takes LESS shaking and can happen pretty quickly, especially if the cream is warm to begin with

2) it is possible to mix the buttermilk and butter back together after it “breaks” (separates) and when that happens more shaking just makes it worse

3) while you can use the mixture of butter and buttermilk as a spread, it can’t be used in place of butter in baking (different balance of fats and liquids) and it will spoil much more quickly than real butter

Lesson Learned

Next time, I’ll start off with less shaking and check it more frequently to make sure I catch the “break”.

What Now?

Right now I’m working the butter with a wooden spoon and have been able to remove some of the buttermilk. I’m going to try adding a bit of salt and keep working it to see if I can get more of the buttermilk out. If I can get it a bit firmer with less of the buttermilk flavor I think it’ll still be useful as a spread, even if it won’t work for baking. I am planning on freezing it in small amounts so hopefully that will let me avoid the problem of spoilage.

Thankfully I didn’t actually “need” butter and didn’t have any plans for using it. I had a pint of cream left over after making cream cheese and didn’t want it to go to waste, so I was mostly just looking for a way to use it. I’ve heard that cream doesn’t freeze very well but butter does, so I figured it would be quick and easy to just turn it into butter and freeze it for later.

Has anyone else failed at making butter? Where did you go wrong?


Pizza Goat Cheese Dip

We have had a goat cheese dip at a local restaurant that is super yummy and we’ve been meaning to do something similar at home. Earlier this week I made some chevre but let it drain for too long so it got firmer than I like. The flavor was fine but the texture was weird- dry and almost chalky. Not the smooth, spreadable chevre that I prefer. Not wanting to waste it, though, we decided to use it in something where it is melted and so the texture isn’t a problem. pizzadip

As he was pulling this dip out of the oven Chris remarked at all the time and effort that went into this one little dish. From the years spent raising Ivy to breeding her and caring for her during her pregnancy and then finally milking her and making cheese from her milk the cheeses themselves have three years of work behind them! Some of the tomatoes are from our garden and some are from the gardens of my mom and godmother (we combined all of ours when we were canning stewed tomatoes last weekend). The oregano and basil is also from our garden. The garlic is from the garden of a friend. There is something very satisfying about sitting down to a plate that is filled with so much life and love….especially if it tastes this good!!!


Chris is a wonderful chef but since he has a very natural talent for cooking he isn’t very precise when it comes to measurements. He is much more of the “add stuff till it tastes right” school of cooking. I did my best to jot down the ingredients he used and how it put it together, more or less.

Pizza Goat Cheese Dip

Cheese Layer

Pizza Sauce

  • 2 parts stewed tomatoes
  • 1 part tomato paste
  • bell peppers
  • garlic
  • basil
  • 2 springs of fresh oregano
  • 1TBS white wine vinegar
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • salt


  • sliced almonds
  • fresh basil leaves

Melt together all of the cheese ingredients in a small sauce pan and stir until the texture is smooth and even. Pour into baking dish.

To make your sauce, combine all ingredients in a pan and simmer for 30min. For a smooth texture, use a Magic Bullet or other food processor/blender to puree the tomato and pepper chunks.

Spread your sauce on top of the cheese and sprinkle the sliced almonds on top. Bake the dish in the oven at 375  until the cheese is nice and melted. Garnish with a couple of basil leaves and serve with fresh bread or pita triangles.