Cabras de Cafayate is a goat cheese factory in Cafayate in northern Argentina. They showed us how they make goat cheese.
The factory has 450 goats they use for making cheese. They keep pregnant goats, normal goats, and goats with babies separated. They only have eight males out of the total 450 goats in the whole facility because each one can make 25 females pregnant a day.
A female can have up to four babies a litter. For two days after a baby is born it goes with its mother to a place where no other goats are because if the mother doesn’t recognize it as her kid she won’t give it milk. For the next 30 days the baby gets all the mother’s milk. For fifteen more days the baby only sees the mother at night. That is so that it learns to be apart from the mother, and so that the company gets some of the milk. After those 45 days they are completely separated.
To milk the goats they put 48 of them in the milking room. They milk eight at a time and while those eight are being milked the others are cleaned and sanitized. Interestingly they play classical music to calm the goats when milking them. The goats give up to two liters of milk a day.
Then they make the cheese. It takes ten kilos of milk to make one kilo of semi hard cheese, and sixteen kilos for a kilo of hard cheese. To start they put the milk in a tub and add the spices. After that they heat and cool it. This process is called pasteurization and kills the bacteria in the milk.
When that is done they run enzymes through it to separate the solids and liquids. They give the liquid (whey) to people to feed pigs. The solids are put in a mold and then in a press. Depending on whether they want hard or semi hard cheese they leave it in different amounts of time to take our varying amounts of the whey.
The next step is to leave the cheese in the mold and put it in a salt bath – that’s what really makes it hard or semi hard. Semi hard can be left in for one hour, and hard up to 24. The salt bath takes even more whey out of the cheese and gives it a nice, firm shape.
When that’s done they put it in the storeroom waiting for it to be sold. Semi soft cheese will sit in the warehouse for two or three months; hard takes six months to cure.
by Davy & Daryl