Author Topic: I'd like to get into making goat cheese and would LOVE for some equipment help!  (Read 1691 times)

Offline oregongoatcheese

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Hi, I have 10 milk goats and want to build a "cheese making room" into my barn and am curious as to what kind of equipment I will need.  I'm basically starting from scratch and I don't even have the room plumbed yet, so I'm totally open to all ideas.

I'd like to make hard goat cheeses (cheddar, gouda etc), which I can age in a basement/cheese cave.  I'd like to be able to do this with decent quality and consistency.

I'll be milking anywhere from 3-10 milk goats at a time.

I can have plumbing for a sink if need be.

So what kind of equipment should I be looking for?  A pasturizer?  Cheese vat?  Press?  Countertop space?  A heat source if I want to wax them?  I'd like to spend under around $2,000 or so for the project, but that's flexible.  I'll be doing a ton of research on actually making quality cheeses, but I'd like to get equipment soon (and would like to know how big of a sink to get, or what other equipment to get now), so that I don't make any mistakes early on that are hard to un-do.

Thank you so much for your time and I appreciate all answers!


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Offline linuxboy

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Licensed or not? Do you want to conform to PMO?
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Offline oregongoatcheese

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Not really, it doesn't have to be.  I'd primarily like to make cheese for my own family and friends.

Thank you for the response!

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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If you have ANY thought about making cheese for sale, it is critical that you have a discussion with your state cheese inspector.
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Offline linuxboy

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OR does have a small farm exemption for IIRC milking fewer than 9 goats. So you should be able to get away with it. If making for sale and sharing, I would build to PMO specs, anyway, or really close to it.

Bare minimum, you need:
- Sanitary area dedicated to cheese.
- Deep sink, 3 bay, hopefully, for washing
- Some kind of vat with temp controls
- Press
- Drain table/misc table for storage
- humidity/temp controlled area for affinage, or if waxing, only temp controls
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Offline oregongoatcheese

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Thank you for the responses!  I'm very new to this so feel free to talk to me like I'm from Mars  :)

So 9 goats it is then!  Where would I go to find these rules/restrictions for goat milking?

I've owned coffee shops so I'm somewhat familiar with what it takes to make a legal sanitary space (3 hole sink etc), but I'm really not looking to get serious with it.  But if I'm putting in a sink, then maybe I'd do a 3 hole sink just in case?  Although would I need a big deep sink for any other cheese-making purpose?  To clean big 5 gallon pails or anything?
 
It sounds like I will need a vat then?  Is there an affordable small-scale vat available somewhere online?  From preliminary searching it looks like vats can cost $5,000 and up which just seems insane for what you are getting.  I'm guessing that's why it looks like some forum members are building their own vats?  Surely there's an affordable solution out there for someone who is only wanting to make smaller amounts of cheese.

What would a drain table be for?  Can my sink be my drain?

A cheese press sounds doable and don't appear to cost an arm and a leg.

I plan on making a cheese cave out of an underground room I'll have.  I'll worry about humidity and whether to wax or not later.

Offline linuxboy

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So 9 goats it is then!  Where would I go to find these rules/restrictions for goat milking?
I believe the bill last year was 2222. But that was a raw milk bill, I don't remember offhand what the cheese regs are. I would talk to the dept of ag and see what they say. You could also opt to go under the radar, but it's not all that costly to do a decent sanitary cheese facility and it is so pleasant to work in one.

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But if I'm putting in a sink, then maybe I'd do a 3 hole sink just in case?  Although would I need a big deep sink for any other cheese-making purpose?  To clean big 5 gallon pails or anything?
Exactly, get the deep sink so you can clean large items if necessary. It also makes it easier to do an overnight soak for removing stuck bits.
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Is there an affordable small-scale vat available somewhere online?
Buy a used soup kettle. $500 or so on craigslist or auction, sometimes even has controls. If not, can run hot water through the jacket.
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What would a drain table be for?  Can my sink be my drain?
Think workflow. So you just did a 15 gal batch. Well, it would be nice to put all those molds somewhere to drain whey. Or say you wanted to do some bloomies. It's not vital, but it's nice to have.

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Offline oregongoatcheese

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Great response!  A soup kettle seems like a good idea.  I won't have hot water so will have to heat any water that I need.  I have plenty of water and electricity, but won't have hot water so will have to improvise.

A I suppose it would be nice to have a long work table/counter that easily drained into the big sink?  Maybe a undermount/farm sink would be nice then.  I'm definitely in construction phase so this is all very helpful.

Offline linuxboy

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A I suppose it would be nice to have a long work table/counter that easily drained into the big sink? 
If you can at all afford it, please do a proper drain with sloped floor so you can drain directly and then rinse down at end of shift. It seriously rocks.

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I won't have hot water so will have to heat any water that I need.  I have plenty of water and electricity, but won't have hot water so will have to improvise.
You can install a circulating pump, expansion tank, and heat in line. A little bulky, but it can work in a cost-effective way. Or try to find a soup kettle with integrated heat.
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Offline oregongoatcheese

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Thanks Linux,

I like the idea of a soup kettle with integrated heat.  How big of a vat would you look for for my intended purposes?  5-9 goats?


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Offline linuxboy

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Full size? Are you going to be storing milk for a few days and making cheese 2-3x/week, or every day? I would figure 1 gal/day/goat, and then however long you want to collect milk. Probably 15-20 gals is a great size.
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Offline oregongoatcheese

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I was thinking I'd make cheese maybe 1-2 times a week (and find other purposes for the milk when not cheese-making), so maybe 5-10 gallons (if fresh), up to 20?  I thought you didn't want to store milk for very long before making it into cheese?

Offline linuxboy

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Ideally, milk would never be refrigerated. That said, it's up to you. Generally, it can last for 2-4 days and still be decent if you have good milk handling. I would get a little bigger vat than you need. So if your equipment is for 10 gal batches, get a 15 gal. Nice to have headspace.
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Offline Tiarella

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If you have electricity and water why won't you have hot water?  In my goat barn we put a small electric 4gallon water heater that just plugged in and hung on the wall.  makes all the difference for washing out milking equipment to have tepid water rather than ice cold.  We plumbed it through a laundry faucet on the outside of an insulated box we built to house the well head, pressure tank, heater  and well pump.  The heater helps keep everything from freezing when it gets below zero degrees.  We have an insulated box that covers the faucet overnight in the winter.  Let me know if you want to see photos.  I have a small goat herd too and toy with the idea of doing cheese commercially.  To be legal here in MA I need separate rooms for milk handling and cheese making.  Milk room needs 2bay sink and separate hand washing sink, cheese room needs 3bay sink and separate hand washing sink!! Yikes that's a lot of stainless steel!