Tag Archives: goat cheese

More on goat cheese …

25 Aug

how to cut goat

Far from being a recent trend, the domestication of goats and the use of its milk is thought to date back a little over 10,000 years ago in the Fertile crescent where many nomadic tribes settled, this boomerang-shaped region that extends from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf was until modern times a rich food-growing area which provided nomads with vast supplies of food for themselves and their goats and therefore a chance to settle down. Many different civilizations flourished in and from this small region, They first learnt about and crafted many of the foods we now eat and drink, spreading these practices as far as Poland where pierced vessels were used for draining curds as early as 7000 years ago.

Though there are some written records of the existence of cheese as an industry such as the Sumerians, the Hittites, these records are rather patchy and do not make light on how cheese may have been made.

There is no doubt that centuries later ( estimated date of events 1178BC ), Goat cheese had become an integral part of the Mediterranean culture, the Cyclops Polyphemus in Homer’s Odyssey had “milking pens for goats and big cheeses aging on racks”. Homer’s account of the Cyclop making cheese ( written around 800BC ) is rather precise and can not have been invented, it is far too similar to modern cheese making to have been romanced! Cheese making had then already reached quite a level of professionalism.

Later by Pliny the Elder who Circa 77 AD in his Historia Naturalis said “Herds of goats also have their special reputation for cheese”. While telling us that many cheeses from every corners of the Empire could be found in Rome, he quoted as well that “The cheese of the Gallic goats always had a strong medicinal taste” which seems to indicate the Gauls enjoyed their cheese very ripe.

2000 years later we are still learning…


Though the overall composition of goat milk is quite close to that of cow’s milk, a closer look at its composition is necessary to appreciate the differences between these milks.

Average goat’s milk composition (g/l) against cow’s
Water 890 – 910
Total dry matter  116 – 134
Fat 28 – 42
Lactose 44 – 47
Nitrogenous matter (protein)
Caséin 18 – 26
Other 8-10
 Enzymes, vitamins, microorganisms

Unlike cow’s milk , the absence of carotenoid pigments gives milk and goat cheeses their characteristic white color . A more detailed analysis of the composition is necessary to appreciate the differences between these milks.



The nutritional value of goat protein is excellent, they contain all the amino acids essential to the body in adequate proportions. Goat’s milk yield sensibly less cheese than cow’s milk.                                                                                       Goat’s milk has low levels of alpha S1 casein protein ( mostly associated with Cow Milk Allergy ).

The allergenic mechanism is rather complex, intolerant or allergic individuals should seek medical advice.


Goat’s milk has sensibly smaller fat globules as well as higher levels of medium chain fatty acids which may result in a quicker and easier digestion process. Goat’s milk lacks agglutinin which is why the cream does not split.  Also, when the proteins found in milk denature (clump up) in the stomach, they form a much softer curd than cow’s milk which may as well encourage better digestion. Three fatty acids caproique, caprique and caprylique are to be found in goat’s milk, in much higher number than cow’s milk, they are the culprits for the tangy goat cheese taste but they are as well sought after. As the cheese ages it loses water and their concentration is therefore higher and their taste stronger! If you do not like the tangy flavour, you ought to eat the cheese young then.


Goat’s milk isn’t much lower than cow’s milk (contains about 10% less than cow’s milk) and yet, countless lactose intolerant patients are able to thrive on goat’s milk. Although the answer for this is unclear, it has been hypothesized that since goat’s milk is digested and absorbed in a superior manner, there is no “leftover” lactose that remains undigested which causes the painful and uncomfortable effects of lactose intolerance.


The concentrations of calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium of goat milk are superior to those of cow’s milk, except for sodium, and very much higher than those observed for human milk.

Goat’s milk Cow’s milk Ewe’s milk Breast milk



































Cheese making:

Goat cheese exhibits a wide variety of forms and flavours.

The majority of cheeses are soft lactic cheeses (85% of manufacturing ) fresh or refined, this is a slow natural process.

The remaining 15% are mixed both lactic and rennetted in varying proportions depending on the recipe, they are fresh or refined.

Within the goat cheese family the “ Chevre “ constitutes a family.

They are mostly lactic, with a minute quantity of rennet whenever used.

They come in many different shapes, pyramid, barrel, log, and are either white aged or coated in charcoal.

We have chosen the two following cheeses to illustrate this family.




The curd is formed slowly over 24 hours, and ladled by hand into small, cylindrical moulds. The cheeses are then drained, salted and moved between dry and humid environments to allow the cheese to develop its texture, rind and flavours. It can be eaten young from ten days old, when it has mild, creamy, lactic flavour, or matured for four to six weeks, to produce a more complex cheese with a firmer texture.

Valencay AOP


This shape may be familiar, many British goat cheeses are produced in this shape.

This Valencay is an appellation cheese coated in charcoal, made in the province of Berry.

The making differs little from Stawley, most cheeses of the chevre family are made in that way, what makes the difference is the quality of the milk used and the way the cheese is being aged.

Charcoal ones tend to have less surface acidity than white ones.

As it happens, the Valencay this time was spicier, a good three weeks older than Stawley, a lot drier. i enjoyed both.

Valencay came from Une Normande A Londres,  www.unenormandealondres.co.uk

Both those cheeses started their life in the same manner

-Fresh:  the cheese is supple, rather wet, it has a delicate milky flavour with barely a hint of goat tang. Have a look on the spice rack and make your very own flavoured fresh cheese or have it plain with a drizzle of honey, fig jam…
– 8 days old: The pate is become more homogenous, milky flavours are replaced by more subtle floral and caprine ones.

-15 days old: A fine blue, brown, white or yellow rind, depending on the flora used for ripening, starts to form on the now semi-dry cheese.
-3 to 4 weeks old: The cheese is now dry, the pate is quite compact and firm, it breaks when cut with a  cold knife. Its taste is all the more complex, white cheeses may be somewhat spicy closer to the rind, ash coated ones are less spicy but have more of an undergrowth taste.

Above 4 weeks, Now you are talking, anything goes, if the cheese has been looked after well till that point, it will be edible, just so you understand how far it can go, there is a cheese made in France called Crottin de Chavignol, a crottin is the excrement of a horse, horse dung, indeed when very ripe this cheese does look like it, to say it packs a punch is a euphemism, so spicy it almost burns!!!

When it comes to keeping your chevre at home, a larder would be grand, it would be good to have a constant temp no higher than 14c, a good humidity 80% minimum and ventilation. They will keep happily in a plastic box in your fridge, if you have something to keep slightly above the bottom, keep the lid partly closed so as to encourage ventilation, the box will allow you to keep some humidity but not too much, some drops of condensation may form on the lid, wipe the excess so the cheese doesn’t get soaked. The cold from your home fridge is a dry cold it may dry your cheese too fast, abstain from using cling film with chevre as there is a build up of bitterness which i find rather unpleasant.

You may remember the cheese families as discussed in another Sunday Brunch appearance.

Capra Nouveau


an unpasteurized goat washed rind semi soft cheese made by Brockhall farm, Sarah has sent me the following headlines to describe her cheese.

” Original inspiration 

– a Vacherin but with more punch and easier to serve!
– this cheese has been named a Top 50Food in Britain in 2012 and has consistently gained 3 Great Taste Gold Stars
– a smaller version of the Capra Nouveau, the Capra Baby, won a Super Gold at last year’s World Cheese Awards
– a semi-soft, aromatic rindwashed cheese, washed daily in our own cider.
– flavours of fruity-woodiness (from the spruce band), complexity
– fruity and vivacious at 4 weeks, nutty and deep at 7 weeks+ (normally sold at 5 weeks)
– beautiful antique-rose/peachy-apricot colours
– Only the milk from 3 milkings is used
– Only the milk from our own herd of pedigree Saanen goats (as with all our cheeses)
– Milk heated to 30 degrees, rennetted at 31 degrees, curds brought to 36 degrees
– lightly pressed and turned over 4 hours
– salted and banded the next day
– washed in our own cider and brine mix every day from the first week until 4.5 weeks, then brushed only
– turned and tended every single day, to ensure an even and attractive appearance
Brock Hall Farm
unique in that we only have a herd of pedigree goats, all registered with the British Goat Society
– we are a small team of local women/girls
– the goats are milked every day at 0500 in the morning and 1500 in the afternoon and we work 365 days a year to make this cheese
Hope that’s enough information. With thanks and all warm wishes, Sarah “

I tried it first two years ago, it has come to age since then so i am rather excited to try it again.


Harbourne blue



Made by hand using only local milk, Harbourne Blue comes in 3kg rounds that have been matured for 2½ months. Each cheese is approximately 20cm in diameter, 15cm tall and has a fat content of 48%. It is made all year round, although it is in short supply during the winter and early spring. A cracking cheese.

Did you know Ticklemore actually produces three blue cheeses all of them made from a different milk?

Beenleigh blue made from ewe’s milk

Devon Blue from cow’ s milk

and Harbourne blue from goat’s milk.

Oh i forgot the kids! 

Goat cheese is gathering quite a following but there is a downside, farmers find it at times difficult to sell the kids, goats, as indeed every dairy animal, must give birth to produce milk!

Many farmers do sell their own kids meat on site, you may want to try Gourmet goat at Borough Market, the kids come from

Ellie’s dairy who actually started only recently to sell their own raw goat milk ( which i duly purchased to make some cheese) and cheeses at the very same location.

My own made:

As mentioned above, i have purchased a liter of raw milk from Ellie’s dairy, http://elliesdairy.blogspot.co.uk/ , they produce a fantastic range of cheese so you don’t have to do what i did, you can support them by trying Shaggy’s beard, a lovely goat camembert like cheese, why not go and see Joe at Borough Market, he is the cheese maker!

As soon as i purchased the milk, i left it ripen for 24 hours at above 21c, that day 26c in the kitchen,

i am as ever passionate with old style cheese making, so this time i had in mind to try to coagulate my milk with a fig branch  ( as mentioned by Homer in Iliad: ” As when fig-juice is added to white milk and rapidly coagulates the liquid, and the milk curdles as it is stirred, so speedy was his healing of raging Ares “ ), after 24 hours ripening the milk, there was already a start of curdling, lactic purely as nothing had been added, so i started warming up the milk on a pan bain marie so as not to scald it till i reached 60c ( gentle pasteurization ) then i score a couple of branches of fig tree ( given to me by the gardener at the Horniman museum http://www.horniman.ac.uk/ ) with a knife so as to release some sap, and i formed figures of eight so as to spread the enzyme while stirring, i did not have to wait for too long, the coagulation was quite dramatic in sharp contrast with previous experiments with thistle or stinging nettle. Ficine may be used as rennet, it is quite potent, beware though too much of it may impart a bitter taste to your fresh cheese.

I let the curdled milk cool down for a few hours before i ladled the resulting curd in a mould to drain for about 12 hours before i turn the cheese and drain for another 12 hours at ambient temp.

No, it is time for salting, which i will repeat a couple of times while still turning the cheese to even drainage.

IMG_20150815_121015[1] IMG_20150815_121530[1] IMG_20150815_121737[1] IMG_20150815_180144[1] IMG_20150817_123734[1]

So there you have a cheese Polyphemus would be proud of.

A fresh cheese for now, eat it within two weeks, flavour it with whatever takes your fancy as i did a few weeks ago with these Figs and walnuts given to me by Marianna at http://oliveology.co.uk/

goat fig walnut

or ripen it up, 80 up to 90 % RH at temperature ranging from 8c to 14c with good ventilation, it is not easy to recreate these conditions in your home, drying the cheese in the fridge though works, you ll end up within a couple of months with a rock hard piece of cheese that resembles the Belper Knolle which many of you like already.

As usual i was left with quite a fair amount of whey, i drank some, and used the remainder to make bread, burger buns, and pancakes…

Oh, all cheeses spoken about in this item have been made in a food safe manner.

Have fun guys, speak to you soon.








http://www.masseiana.org/pliny.htm#BOOK XI