Goat’s Milk Cheese
© Denzil Green
Goat’s Milk Cheeses are generally rindless creamy cheeses, usually sold in log or round slice form, and often coated with something fancy such as cracked pepper, herbs or even ashes.
Cheeses made from Goat’s Milk will taste slightly acrid, and certainly sharper and tangier than those made from cow’s milk. Some will even taste “goaty”, which not everyone likes.
They are more usual in European countries than in English-speaking countries, which have preferred cow milk cheeses.
Goat’s Milk Cheeses are more expensive because unlike cows, goats don’t produce milk year round. Saanen goats are particularly prized for their milk in cheese-making.
In 2003, 85,000 tonnes of goat’s cheese produced in France.
Goat’s Milk Cheeses haven’t been traditionally popular in the UK or English-speaking countries. As of 2004, about 52 pounds (24 kg) of goat’s cheese is consumed per head in France and Greece. In the UK, only about 10 kg. But sales of Goat’s Milk Cheeses did increase by about 50% overall between 2001 and 2003. Retailers speculate that Brits are responding to a cleaner taste in the cheese.
Goat herd numbers on are on the rise in the UK (from 74,000 in 2001 to 88,000 in 2003) to meet the rise in demand for goat’s cheese. Much of the milk output is actually going to domestically produced goat’s cheeses.
In 2002, a Dr. Luigi Capasso (State University G. d’Annunzio in Chieti, Italy) analysed a piece of cheese that had been carbonized in Pompeii. He found that it was made of goat’s milk, and that it carried brucellosis, which was a disease of the joints very common in Roman times. His feeling is that it shows that goat’s milk cheese was a major source of the disease in the Roman Empire.
Literature & Lore
“Goat cheese produced a bizarre eating era when sensible people insisted that this miserable cheese produced by these miserable creatures reared on miserable hardscrabble earth was actually superior to the magnificent creamy cheeses of the noblest dairy animals bred in the richest green valleys of the earth.” — Russell Baker (American writer, 1925 – )
Foodies often use the French name for goat’s cheese in general, which is “chèvres”.