Goats were among the first animals to be domesticated for producing food. And one popular byproduct of goats is cheese.
Goat cheese is made around the world with a variety of different styles, from fresh and soft to aged and hard.
Goat milk has a higher proportion of medium-chain fatty acids such as caproic and caprylic. Theses fatty acids contribute to the tart flavor of the cheese and are more easily digestible.
It is also interesting to note, that every type of cheese that can be made with cow’s milk or sheep’s milk can also be made from goat’s milk – such as blue cheese, brie, camembert, cheddar and gouda.
How Goat Cheese Is Made
Goat cheese is made using pasteurized or raw goat’s milk. The milk is heated to around 185 degrees and then a starter culture is added to begin fermenting the milk, followed by rennet, which begins the coagulation of the milk proteins, forming curds.
The solid curds are then scooped into molds that will determine the shape of the cheese, while in the molds the cheese is drained for a period of around 24 hours.
Next, an unionized salt is sprinkled over the cheese. The salt adds flavor and helps to form a rind around the cheese that controls the growth of microorganisms.
After the cheese is drained (typically 24-48 hours) it is formed and cooled. Fresh drained goat cheese is soft with a high moisture content and a fresh, milky flavor.
For a harder goat cheese, it undergoes a more extensive ripening, from a week to as long as a year. The longer a cheese ripens, the drier and harder it will be.
To help lower the acidity of the cheese and to aid in ripening, some manufacturers will dust the cheese with an inorganic material or mineral content referred to as ash (read more here about the use of ash in food – Food Science).
The Three Types Of Goat Cheese
If you have ever purchased goat cheese, it is typically sold in the shape of a small soft log.
Goat’s milk can be made into almost any kind of cheese, including:
Hard goat cheeses: Crottin de Chavignol. Produced in France.
Soft goat cheeses: These include Chabichou, Cabécou, and Banon. All three are produced in France.
Blue Goat Cheese
Blue goat cheeses: Notable blue goat cheeses are Valençay, from France and Humboldt Fog, produced in the United States.
Goats milk can also be used to make camembert, cheddar and gouda.
Cooking With Goat Cheese
Goat cheese softens well under heat, but does not melt in the same way cow cheese does. Like a cheddar or mozzarella.
Because the cheese doesn’t easily melt, it is great to use with this, Warm Goat Cheese & Chicken Salad.
Goat cheese does have similar fat content as cheese made from cows.
Here in the United States, the most common goat cheese sold is a soft, fresh cheese.
It is aged for no more than a few days, than packaged and sent to market.
Soft goats cheese has a mild tangy flavor. It is easily spreadable. As noted earlier, it is sold and served in a log shape either plain or mixed with fresh herbs or fruits.
Crumbled Goat Cheese
Soft goat cheese can crumble (though a little sticky) the same as feta, blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese.
If you want to use the cheese as a crumbled topping, it is best to use it right out of the fridge.
Use the crumbled cheese to top these salads.
- Golden Beet & Spinach Salad With Cashews & Goat Cheese
- Apple Pecan and Goat Cheese Salad with Maple Apple Dressing
Or use it to top this BBQ Chicken Omelet with Salsa & Goat Cheese.
To bring out the best flavors in goat cheese, let it come to room temperature, about 20-30 minutes.
At room temperature the soft cheese is very easy to spread. It is also easy to mix in with other ingredients, like room temperature cream cheese or raw honey to make these Sweet Potato Rounds With Bacon Honey & Goat Cheese.
Goat cheese is also delicious to use to stuff baked chicken breast. Like this Stuffed Chicken Breasts With Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Goat Cheese.
Use it to make cheese balls. Like with this Fresh Basil Raspberry Goat Cheese Salad With A Raw Honey Vinaigrette.
Goat cheese also is delicious with roasted butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, watermelon and cranberries.
You can even use the tangy cheese to make a dressing. Like with this Butter Leaf Lettuce Salad With A Herbed Goat Cheese Pear Dressing.
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