All About Goat Cheese: From Farm to Fork
Goat cheese, or 'chèvre' as it's known in French, is a food that has been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. It boasts a unique, tangy flavor that stands out in a variety of dishes, and its versatility in the culinary world is unmatched. Not only is it delicious, but goat cheese also offers a host of nutritional benefits. In this blog post, we'll delve into the world of goat cheese, from its origins to its use in your kitchen.
Where Goat Cheese Comes From?
Goat cheese production dates back over 5,000 years, and possibly even longer, with roots in the Eastern Mediterranean. The goats in this region were among the first animals domesticated by humans, and their milk was subsequently one of the first dairy products consumed. Goat cheese soon spread throughout the Mediterranean, eventually reaching France, where it was refined and developed into the many forms we see today.
Currently, goat cheese is produced all over the world, but particularly in countries with strong cheese-making traditions such as France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Netherlands. The United States has also become a significant producer, with many artisanal and commercial creameries scattered across the country.
How Goat Cheese Is Made?
The process of making goat cheese is an age-old practice that involves a careful blend of tradition and precision. First, fresh goat's milk is collected. The quality of the milk is essential and depends on the goats' diet and the freshness of the milk. Then, a starter culture, a friendly bacteria, is added to the milk to begin the fermentation process. The bacteria convert the lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid. Next, rennet is added to coagulate the milk, transforming it from liquid into a soft curd. This mixture is then cut into pieces, allowing whey (the liquid part of the milk) to separate from the curds. These curds are gently ladled into molds and left to drain. This can take several hours to a few days depending on the size of the cheese and the desired texture. After that, the cheese may be aged, which can take anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the type of goat cheese being made.
How Can Goat Cheese Be Eaten?
One of the wonderful things about goat cheese is its versatility. It can be enjoyed fresh, aged, melted, or even baked into a warm, gooey treat. Fresh goat cheese is soft and spreadable, making it perfect for smearing on a piece of crusty bread or a cracker. It's also a delicious addition to salads, providing a creamy counterpoint to crisp, fresh vegetables. We love making cheese balls using unique ingredients such as macadamia and apricots as well as tamarind pieces. (as shown)
Here is our custom Large Board
Aged goat cheeses are firmer and can be sliced or grated. They are excellent in cooking, especially in dishes that call for melted cheese like pasta, gratins, or pizzas. Baked goat cheese, often in the form of a 'chevre chaud' salad, becomes irresistibly creamy and is a perfect companion for mixed greens, nuts, and vinaigrette. Moreover, goat cheese pairs beautifully with various ingredients like honey, figs, beetroot, walnuts, and rosemary. Its tangy flavor contrasts well with sweet, nutty, or earthy flavors, creating a delightful balance on the palate.
Nutritional and Health Benefits
Goat cheese is not just a tasty treat; it's also packed with essential nutrients. It's a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A. It's also easier to digest than cow's milk cheese because it has smaller fat molecules and a different protein structure. This means it can often be tolerated by people who have lactose intolerance or a sensitivity to cow's milk.Moreover, goat cheese has fewer calories and less fat and cholesterol than many other cheeses made from cow's milk. It also contains probiotics, beneficial bacteria that can help support gut health. By including goat cheese in your diet, you're opting for a nutritionally rich food that supports overall health.
Pairing Goat Cheese with Wine
Finding the right wine to pair with goat cheese can elevate your dining experience to new heights. As a general rule, a wine that complements the tangy, tart profile of goat cheese is a perfect match. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Sauvignon Blanc: This bright, acidic white wine is an excellent match for fresh goat cheese. The zesty qualities of the wine cut through the creaminess of the cheese, creating a harmonious balance.
2. Chenin Blanc: If you're enjoying an aged goat cheese with a sharper flavor, a Chenin Blanc with its notes of apple, pear, and honey, can be a delightful pairing.
3. Pinot Noir: For a heartier, firmer goat cheese, a light-bodied red like Pinot Noir can work wonderfully. The wine's fruity, earthy notes echo the complex flavors in the cheese.
4. Rosé: For a versatile option, a dry rosé can pair well with many types of goat cheese. Its balance of acidity, fruit, and minerality can hold up to both fresh and slightly aged cheeses.
Goat cheese is not only a delectable addition to your culinary repertoire but also a healthy one. Its diverse flavors and textures make it an interesting ingredient to experiment with in the kitchen. Next time you're at your local cheese shop or grocery store, don't pass by the goat cheese. Instead, give it a try—you might just find a new favorite!